Travel by Novel: San Antonio

Best Historical Novels for Travelers to San Antonio, Texas


The Alamo as a Spanish Mission

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Time-Sweep
The Battle of the Alamo
From Texas Statehood into the 20th Century
For Younger Readers


San Antonio was originally a Native American settlement. Spanish explorers in 1691 namcd the settlement and the river that flows through it for St. Anthony. The Alamo, the ruins of which still stand in the center of the city, was originally established as Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1718, but became known for a nearby grove of cottonwood trees, álamo in Spanish.

Today, it's best known for the battle fought there between its Texan defenders and the Mexican army of General Santa Anna. The Battle of the Alamo was a defeat which led to victory. Texas won its freedom from Mexico in the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto by a mob of soldiers crying "Remember the Alamo."

In addition to the Spanish missionaries and settlers from the U.S., significant numbers of German and French came to San Antonio, where the atmosphere tended to be more businesslike and polite than less populated areas of Texas - relatively speaking, of course. Today, San Antonio celebrates its historic heritage and graciously welcomes visitors to its many historic sites and neighborhoods.

Most historical novels set in San Antonio focus on the dramatic events of the Texas Revolution, but James A. Michener's panoramic novel of the history of Texas covers a longer stretch of time.


A Time-Sweep Novel

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James A. Michener, Texas (1985), about Texas from the time of the earliest Spanish explorers to modern times.


The Battle of the Alamo

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James Lee Burke, Two for Texas (1982), about two escaped convicts who go to Texas in a bid to stay free by fighting in the Texas Revolution.

Will Camp, Blood of Texas (1996), about a Mexican living in San Antonio who joins Sam Houston's army to fight for independence; Will Camp is a pen name of Preston Lewis; 1996 Spur Award winner.

Elizabeth Crook, Promised Lands (1994), about the experiences of two families, one American and one Mexican, in the Texas Revolution.

Randy Lee Eickhoff, Bowie (1998), about Jim Bowie, who died at the Alamo.

Stephen Harrigan, The Gates of the Alamo (2000), about the siege and fall of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution; 2001 Spur Award winner.

Tina Juárez, Call No Man Master (1995), about a young woman of mixed heritage who fights for independence from first Spain and then Mexico.

Al and JoAnna Lacy, A Line in the Sand (2007), a family saga about a young man who migrates to Texas with his family in 1835 and joins Jim Bowie in the fight for Texas independence; Christian message; #1 in the Kane Legacy trilogy.

Al and JoAnna Lacy, Web of Destiny (2008), a family saga about three brothers who volunteer to fight in a war against Mexico; Christian message; #2 in the Kane Legacy trilogy.

Al and JoAnna Lacy, High is the Eagle (2008), a family saga about brothers fighting in a war against Mexico; Christian message; #3 in the Kane Legacy trilogy.

Jeff Long, Empire of Bones (1993), about Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution; 1993 Spur Award Winner.

James Michener, The Eagle and the Raven (1990), about Santa Anna and Sam Houston.


Texas from Statehood into the 20th Century

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Stephen Harrigan, Remember Ben Clayton (2011), about a New York sculptor who comes to Texas after World War I to create a statue of a rancher's son who died in France; set partly in San Antonio.


For Younger Readers

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Sherry Garland, In the Shadow of the Alamo (2001), about a fifteen-year-old soldier in Santa Anna's army as it marches across Texas to attack the revolutionaries in the Alamo. Recommended for ages 10 and up.


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