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By what can only be considered poetic justice, he ended up with a good dose of venereal disease. According to Mexican sources, Travis on two occasions attempted to surrender the Alamo. Long’s David Crockett is a mediocre man who comes to believe the myth. Indeed, Davey had little appetite for fighting and went to Texas to get rich and to possibly become governor. Fate swept him into the Alamo . When the mission fell, Crockett tried to hide, but was captured. General Manuel Castrillon attempted to save Crockett’s life, but Santa Anna ordered him shot. Davey, according to Long, tried to pass himself off as a simple traveler who accidentally got swept into the whirlwind of revolution and then apologized that he had merely taken refuge in there. “His captors dismissed his story as the fabric of a frightened man, but still felt it was time to quit killing.” Long saves some of his justifiable wrath for Santa Anna, who ordered the execution of prisoners of war. In marked contrast, Long sympathetically treats Mexican military leaders such Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, Manuel Fernandez Castillon, Vicente Filosa, Jose Urrea,. and Jose Enrique de la Pena, all of whom criticized Santa Anna for shooting prisoners and tried to stop the killing. The battle of San Jacinto saw 630 Mexicans massacred in a surprise attack: “What followed was one of the great war atrocities in U.S. history, a slaughter that went on for hours, with rebel officers completely unable to corral their berserk troops.” Unfortunately, Houston, who was coming out of an opium stupor at the time Santa Anna was captured, did not execute the Mexican general. Sitting calmly under an oak tree, the two eagles shared an opiuminduced high, culminating in the Mexican president convincing Houston that he alone could get the Mexican troops to withdraw. At that point, if Houston had executed Santa Anna the war would surely have continued. Under the capable command of generals such as Jose Urrea, the Mexican army would have routed the filibusters. Long, however, leaves little doubt that a Mexican victory would have, in all probability, accelerated the conflict between Mexico and the United States, since the troops of U.S. General Edmund Gaines were already poised at the border. The search for the truth and the need to straighten out history is essential. In the case of the mythical accounts of the Alamo, they have justified years of negative stereotypes about Mexicans, namely that Mexicans were treacherous lying cowards which, considering that during World War II and the Korean conflicts Mexicans won 17 Medals of Honor, is ludicrous. The simple truth is that Mexicans at the Alamo were only defending their country from foreigners who had no legal or moral claim to the land called Texas. The truth be told, the Mexicans were not beaten solely by EuroAmerican fighting superiority; luck had a lot to do with it. Without the truth, the George Bushes of the world will continue to repeat the errors of the past. Take President James Polk’s May 11, 1846 message to Congress: “As war exists, and notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon every consideration of thity and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of BY BRYCE MILLIGAN THE DEVIL IN TEXAS/ EL DIABLO EN TEXAS By Aristeo Brito Bilingual Review/Press 212 pages, Cloth $22, Paper $12 EFORE THE JULY rains settled the dust of our recent and unlamented drought, I had occasion to be on Highway 90 with my windows down in Hell’s Half Acre west of Sanderson. It is an aptly named spot except for the dimensions, and it reminded me of Aristeo Brito’s Chicano classic, El diablo en Bryce Milligan is a writer and editor in San Antonio. our country.” The similarity of Polk’s thinking and Bush’s rationale for his war to set up a “New World Order” are striking. This habit of manufacturing knowledge to substantiate claims of moral authority to justify aggression must be Challenged by a value system that distinguishes right from wrong. Duel of Eagles contributes to the defining of an objective standard of judgment. f21 Texas, one of the hottest books I’ve ever read. . Specifically it reminded me of the book’s striking opening image of a . snake wrapped around a cross atop a crumbling chapel, surveying time and the land. Brito’s novel is set in Presidio, another 100 miles or so southwest of where I was sweating, and but for the fact that the mountains of Big Bend lie in between the two places, there’s not a lot of difference in the landscapes. There’s no difference at all in the snakes. Later, back in San Antonio lovely and green even in a drought compared to the lecheguia-lined brimstone highways to the west I heard that Brito’s 1976 El diablo, newly published in English as The Devil in Texas had won .the Western States Book Award, only the second Chicano work to do so. There couldn’t have been a better choice. Charles Tatum’s scholarly introduction to the book is almost as readable as the story itself, and does an admirable job of explicating some of Brito’s darker intentions. Also included is the original Spanish text, though readers should be forewarned that the Spanish here varies from Castillian to the Texas field-hand variety, according to who happens to be speaking, and that the old Cassell Dictionary is not going to be much help. David William Foster’s excellent English translation conveys the linguistic nuances quite well. The Devil in Texas is divided into three sections: “Presidio 1883,” “1942,” and “1970,” though the latter is hardly more than a few pages long. Raised in Presidio himself, the author wrote this work to chronicle the sociohistorical reality and almost mystic inner realm of life in this place where visitors are terrified to hear the “empty sound of suffering souls.” If one reads “magical realism” into that, fine, but it is magical realism with a bloody edge to it, in that the history presented hits awfully close to home. The devil who wanders the landscape is Greed, and he most often though not always has pale skin and an Anglo surname. Institutionalized, it wears a star and a ten-gallon hat, and bulges with Colts and Winchesters: The devils are los rinches. Whatever the guise, this devil delights in violence and oppression, and his victims are the original Tejano owners of the land, their children and grandchildren, and Hell of a Spell THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15