“A love story, a massacre and profiles in American courage. This account of the Alamo is a powerful, more realistic story.”
I finished reading your book, it was terrific, and I would like to arrange some book signings for you in the Houston area.
Real historical figures populate this tale that follows a slave named Joe to the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.
In Alabama, William Travis knows his prospects of winning the attentions of Rosanna Cato, the prettiest girl in the county, increase if he has his own slave. So he buys “Slow Joe” from a slave trader. Joe, the central character, turns out to be quite smart, and Travis teaches him to read well enough to help with Travis’s newspaper and law endeavors. Joe meets and falls in love with Emily, whose “brown eyes seemed suspended in a sea of innocence, like the white in a newborn baby’s eye.”
Although the Mexican government makes further American immigration illegal, Travis brings Joe with him to Texas (then part of Mexico) and begins thinking about the injustice of slavery. The Mexican government’s policy also doesn’t stop men like Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett from moving to Texas, and the story leads to bloody confrontation late in the book as General Santa Anna’s Mexican army marches northward to drive the Anglos out, culminating in the pitched battle at the Alamo in San Antonio.
The author pointedly includes various religions and ethnicities; Joe asks friends what a Jew is, and inside the Alamo are characters such as Mao (Chinese), Mohammad (a Muslim from India), a Buddhist, a Creek Indian, blacks, women and white men. Oddly, Joe fights for freedom, although Mexico has already abolished slavery.
The story is largely historically accurate, down to the existence of Joe, who was wounded but ultimately spared by the Mexicans. There’s one glaring error: a character describes Cinco de Mayo as celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain. The holiday in fact commemorates an 1862 victory against French forces. The prose would also read a bit smoother with a more generous use of commas.
But the storytelling and characters are enjoyable, and readers will fret for Joe’s fate as he fights bravely alongside other defenders against overwhelming odds.
Book Room Reviews
We all see our American history in different ways and ‘Joe’s Alamo Unsung’ written by Lewis E. Cook shows and tells readers another view of this particular historical moment in American history. This account of the Alamo is seen through the eyes of one time slave now freeman. ‘Joe’s Alamo Unsung’ is a novel about how Texas became a part of the United States. Joe, who is the main character who happens to be an ‘educated’ black man and learns other things from characters like Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Santa Ana, as well as all the others to be able to say “Remember the Alamo!”
This is a novel that could be used as a supplemental reading assignment to describe Texan-Mexican history. Topics that could be discussed is the actual battle of the Alamo and other classes could also discuss the lives of the famous characters of the book starting with Davy Crockett and the other US leaders then on to the Mexican side with Santa Ana and those other characters. One question that is on the literary side would be ‘Is this book fiction or non-fiction or a little of both?’ after reading the final chapter. The battle scenes were vivid and the reader feels that they are present during the action.
Lewis E. Cook has written a story that is purely entertaining as well as educational to a point. The reader will not believe that they are reading about a true historical event with all the sideline stories of the female story line, as in Emily’s story when she called him her ‘Slow Joe’. Lewis is a creative writer with a flare of the past. This could also be a book used in classrooms to review and research procedures for the teachers could have the students check for historical accuracy of the book after reading ‘Joe’s Alamo Unsung.’
Lewis Cook’s novel, Joe’s Alamo, is a historical fiction taking its readers to the heart of Texas’ war for independence at the Battle of the Alamo. It focuses mainly on William Travis’ slave, Joe, who happens to be the lone male survivor out of the hundred-plus volunteer defendants of the Alamo against thousands of Mexican armies. Through Joe, readers of the novel experience the lives of the unknown and unsung heroes who essentially make up the symbolic meaning of the Alamo.
The author’s writing style is approachable and unintimidating. One can get the clear sense of its historical nature as it is written based on facts and actual events, including facts about certain characters that have only recently been discovered in real life. It contains a good combination of mature writing and imagery. Scenes are clear-cut, and there is a natural progression to the plot. Cook’s characters are also developed throughout the novel in a manner that feels organic.
Cook admittedly claims his objective of inclusivity in his novel and has succeeded in doing so. He presents a completely diverse set of characters, coming from different racial and religious backgrounds, whose lives intertwine with the fate of the Alamo. The author’s intention of being inclusive to all races and religions are not only reflected in the characters he created but is clearly portrayed in the book cover as well. Although one should never “judge a book by its cover,” the book cover for Joe’s Alamo—though highly debatable—can come across as more political than artistic, but it’s still a good deciding factor for potential readers.
An overall good read, each chapter in Joe’s Alamo contains opening lines enough to captivate while their closing lines encourages a turn of the next page. Though informative in nature, it’s important to remember the novel is a work of fiction.
Joe’s Alamo by Lewis Cook is a tale for the unsung heroes.
The world renown phrase “Remember the Alamo!” carries with it a heavier connotation in this novel. More than just a message of courage and bravery, Lewis Cook sheds light on the lives and stories of the unrecognized defenders of the Alamo. In the novel, Joe, William Travis’ slave, is the only one defender of the two hundred volunteers who survives the thirteen-day battle against the Mexican force numbering in the thousands led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. And according to Joe, his fellow Alamo defenders who have bravely sacrificed their lives came from all races and religions.
Joe’s Alamo is a highly inclusive novel, with diverse characters and colorful subplots. Cook’s attempt to present the Battle of the Alamo from various angles and perspectives doesn’t go unnoticed and can be considered inspiring in these times. It’s a well-written novel narrating the lives of people from different backgrounds whose highly significant contribution to one of the world’s most symbolic battle cries would have otherwise gone unrecognized.
More than just a war novel, one can find various elements that make the reading experience thrilling, entertaining, and even romantic. Its opening chapter itself has a hue of budding romance to it and is developed throughout the novel.
Joe’s Alamo is mainly a historical fiction based on facts and contains recently discovered information about William Travis, Susana Dickinson, and Davy Crocket. Although a work of fiction, it tries to stay as close to being as informative and factual as possible. One can get a good sense of the culture and political climate during its time as Cook describes the day-to-day activities of its characters. The novel’s overall voice takes on an informative tone more than an emotional one, which certain readers find more appealing than others.
Overall, Joe’s Alamo is a well-written novel, appropriate for history buffs as well as beginners—from the young adult to mature readers—who are looking to pass the time and learn some historical facts at the same time.