Sam Houston: American Giant. By M. K. Wisehart. Washington,
D. C. (Robert B. Luce, Inc.), 1962. Pp. 712. Notes, bibliog-
raphy, index, illustrations, maps. $io.oo.
At last count more than forty-five book-length biographies of
Sam Houston had been published, not to mention several plays,
sections of other books, and innumerable articles in newspapers,
magazines, and journals concerning his life. Yet he remains one
of the most enigmatic characters in Texas history.
Samuel (sometimes Pablo) Houston was such a controversial
and complex man that most of his biographers have tackled him
piecemeal. One wrote of Houston as a statesman, another of him
as a soldier, and another as a mystic. Several saw him as a swash-
buckling frontiersman, others as a half-savage eccentric with a
genius for opportunism. He has been pictured as half Hamlet
and half Hannibal, or as Falstaff with a strong streak of satyr.
He has been compared with George Washington, Benedict Ar-
nold, Napoleon, and Samuel Swartwout. None of these has been
Nor is the latest attempt at a biography of Sam Houston, by
M. K. Wisehart, wholly true, although it may come closer to the
whole truth than any of its predecessors. This labor of love by an
Eastern newspaper and magazine writer and editor is a fine, il-
luminating work in spite of many obvious faults.
It is too long, too indiscriminate in its sources, and too obvious-
ly a paean to its author's favorite hero. It contains no new infor-
mation from primary sources. Above all else, it suffers from
inexcusably poor editing.
Still, this monumental biography has sufficient merit to com-
mand attention and respect. It has brought together masses of
information (along with a small amount of misinformation) to
give the best-rounded picture of Sam Houston yet published. It
covers, with reasonable thoroughness, all of Houston's varied
careers, as schoolteacher, lawyer, Cherokee-by-adoption, land pro-
moter, soldier, Texas statesman, national figure, rough-and-tumble
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed October 25, 2014.