The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Book Reviews
PAULA MITCHELL MARKS, Editor
The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives. By Timothy Matovina.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Pp. 144. Introduction, bibliogra-
phy, index. ISBN 0-292-75186-9. $10.95, paper.)
The most significant word in the title of this little book is the last one, "perspec-
tives." Timothy Matovina's chief interest lies not in the battle of the Alamo per se,
but in what the Tejanos revealed about themselves and their community in the
process of remembering (or imagining that they were remembering) the traumatic
event that marked, in the words of Virgilio Elizondo (p. 124), their "painful birth"
as "a new people." As in Matovina's earlier book, Tejano Religion and Ethnzcity: San
Antonio, I82i-z86o (1995), the author's central concern is the historical context
out of which a distinct Tejano ethnic identity emerged.
These Tejano accounts, says Matovina, offer a "third perspective" (p. 122) to
Mexican Americans who feel reluctantly compelled by the pervasive duality of
the Alamo saga to identify with either tyrannical Mexican butchers or American
conquerors scornful of Hispanic culture. Tejanos reacted in varied ways to the
crisis of 1836. Some joined Travis, Crockett, and Bowie in defending the revolu-
tion to the death. Others either willingly or unwillingly aided Santa Anna's army.
Most opted for a prudent neutrality, trying to avoid the abuses that could come
from either army. But Matovina's message is that historians who concentrate on
the question of which side these people joined or did not join miss the larger
point: for the Tejanos themselves, the choice of sides during the revolt was not
the overriding issue of their lives, nor was it the touchstone of their identity.
What the Tejano accounts of the Alamo show, Matovina argues, is that the divi-
sions engendered by the revolution failed to destroy what remained "an amaz-
ingly cohesive community" in which families, friends, and neighbors split apart
by the war reunited in harmony in its aftermath: testifying for one another, vot-
ing for each other in municipal elections, and putting their wartime differences
behind them without recrimination.
Although Matovina has performed a genuine service by bringing together all
known Tejano accounts in a single volume, some readers may find this book
frustrating both in its failure to subject the accounts to a rigorous historical
analysis and in its awkward, yet quite complete, documentation.

North Carolina State Unversity

JAMES E. CRISP

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed April 20, 2014.