City Guide: New book turns most of the popular beliefs of the 1836 siege of the Alamo on their head

As some trembling church bells will likely clang out 189 times to mark the 175th anniversary of the deaths of the defenders of the Alamo this March 6, don’t expect to see anyone hawking copies of Exodus from the Alamo: Anatomy of the Last Stand Myth during the speechifying.

The new book by former U.S. Air Force historian Phillip Thomas Tucker turns most of the popular beliefs about the siege of this “shrine of Texas liberty” on their head.

For one, little-mentioned slavery and plantation ambitions are chiefly what put the independence-minded Anglos (including slave smugglers James Fannin and Jim Bowie) at odds with Santa Anna. Another was that, according to the only surviving eyewitness accounts, rather than rally for one last noble stand, most of the defenders tried to flee on that fateful morning.

If that’s too radical a view for you, watch instead for a likely more “respectful” tome to be released by musician and lifelong Alamophile Phil Collins in early 2012. Collin’s work in progress, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey, is said to be about his obsession with the events of 1836 and the massive collection of Alamo-related artifacts he’s accumulated.

Stop in at the shrine itself during operating hours for an “audio and light” tour of the battle, narrated by Mr. Collins himself. While the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, responsible for the maintenance of the historic property, allow that “the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated,” their website states: “People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.”

Also still up for debate: whose freedom?

Read more from our 2011 City Guide here.

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