Long overshadowed by the towering buildings of downtown San Antonio, the modest little Alamo still evokes tremendous feeling among Texans and, indeed, many other Americans. For Anglo Texans, the Alamo is the "Cradle of Texas Liberty" and a symbolic confirmation of Manifest Destiny. For Hispanic Texans, however, the Alamo has increasingly become a stolen symbol, its origin as a Spanish mission forgotten, its famous defeat used to exclude Hispanics from an honorable place in Texas history.
In this important new book, Holly Beachley Brear explores in fascinating detail what the Alamo means to the numerous groups that lay claim to its heritage. She shows how Alamo myths often diverge from the historical facts—and why. She decodes the agendas of various groups, including the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (who maintain the Alamo buildings and grounds), the Order of the Alamo, the Texas Cavaliers, and LULAC. And she probes attempts by individuals and groups to rewrite the Alamo myth to include more positive roles for themselves, as she explains the value in laying claim to the Alamo's past.
With new perspectives on all the sacred icons of the Alamo and the Fiesta that celebrates (one version of) its history each year, Inherit the Alamo is guaranteed to challenge stereotypes and offer new understanding of the Alamo's ongoing role in shaping Texas and American history and mythology. It will be of interest to a wide popular and scholarly audience.
By Holly Beachley Brear
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Holly Beachley Brear holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Virginia. She currently resides in Culpeper, Virginia, and teaches with the PAGE program at George Mason University.
"This provocative book is must reading for anyone who has ever wondered why all hell frequently breaks loose over the interpretation of events at places like the Alamo or Little Big Horn."
—Books of the Southwest
"Astonishingly enough, [Brear] probably understates the bizarre intersection of class structures, ethnicities, heritage icons, mythmaking, secret societies, and politics which meets at the Alamo. . . . Inherit the Alamo successfully investigates the use and abuse of a cultural icon in its migration from a relatively obscure historical event to a centerpiece of ongoing discussions related to birthrights, inclusiveness, and social control."
". . . the Alamo as a contemporary shrine of American culture has not been examined in this approach or depth. . . . The result is a chronicle of 'use' of the Alamo, and 'ownership' of its history, that makes me gasp when I see it described. I think most Texans will gasp, too."
—James Wright Steely, Director, National Register Programs, Texas Historical Commission