By Maegan Rocio
History can spark an inspirational journey when you least expect it, as it did with best-selling author James Donovan.
Donovan made an appearance at Baylor Thursday to discuss his latest book, “The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation.”
“Its focus is on the Battle of the Alamo, which happened on March 6, 1836, during early morning hours before dawn that pitted about 200 defenders, Texans for the Texas cause, against a much larger enemy force led by General Santa Ana, president of Texas, that was several thousand men,” Donovan said. “But it also encompasses most of the Texas Revolution itself from Gonzales in October 1835 through San Jacinto in April 1836 and beyond.”
The book also focuses on the three most famous defenders of the fortress: Davy Crockett, James Bowie and William Barret Travis.
Donovan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended the University of Texas in the 1970s, where he learned of the story of the Alamo.
“I’ve been in Texas for a long time, and I had edited a book about the Alamo and learned a little that way and became intrigued,” he said.
Donovan decided to write about the Battle of the Alamo after he completed his first book about the Battle of Little Big Horn in 2008.
Donovan said he visited historical archives in Texas, including the Texas Collection at Baylor, to conduct his own research. He said he utilized state archives because he wanted to address the mistaken presumptions about what took place at the battle.
“There are many myths and legends and misconceptions about the Alamo,” he said. “I think there is more involved in this story than any other events in American history that I can think of. That’s partially because there is so little reliable information about the defenders that died on one side at the Alamo.”
He said he wanted to address the cultural and intellectual issues surrounding American history through his book.
“Reading is kind of endangered, I think,” he said. “Not only just in books, but also in e-books and other versions. The textbooks I see in schools for children are full of pictures, and I just think that it’s something important that we need to do to stop that from getting worse.”
John Wilson, director of the Texas Collection, said the book is a great addition to the on-campus collection due to the amount of information the book offers on the battle.
Wilson said the book was easy to read because it could be read like a novel.
“The characters are strong, they’re interesting,” Wilson said. “You like some characters better than others, and so I would read it every night before I’d go to sleep. I thought it was just a great story and a heroic tale.”
Donovan said he tailored his book to read as an “educational novel” to captivate and educate his audience.
“I hope they are entertained and also informed,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know a lot about the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, so that’s why it encompasses the entire revolution. So if they read this, they not only have a sense of the Alamo Battle and what that entailed but also the entire Texas Revolution and how it came to be about and proceeded to the end.”
“The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation” can be purchased on Amazon.com or on Donovan’s website: www.jamesdonovan.net.