By William R.
Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 1997
195 pages with illustrations, maps, and a bibliography
Member's Discount 30%
William R. Chemerka lives in East Hanover, New Jersey, and teaches American History, and Economics at Madison High School, in Madison, New Jersey. He has received many teaching awards over the years, and his students are fortunate to have such a dedicated educator. One of his major historical interests is the Texas Revolution, especially the Battle of the Alamo. He received a Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge Grant for the study of "New Jersey's Role in the Texas Revolution." In 1986, Chemerka founded The Alamo Society, which he still heads. He edits the Society's official quarterly publication, The Alamo Journal. Every year, on the weekend nearest to 6 March, the date of the Alamo's fall, you will find Chemerka hosting the annual Alamo Society Symposium. Those who frequent Alamo de Parras know him as the Educational Consultant, and the frequent contributor of the Alamo Trivia page.
Alamo Almanac & Book of Lists was a natural culmination of Chemerka's long love affair with the Alamo. He divided his book into four sections, each of which stands independently. Beginning with the "Introduction: The Texas Revolution," a succinct account of the history of the revolution, it proves to be an amazing amount of information packed into just twelve pages of text. An "Alamo Chronology" follows. This is a list of important dates from 1519, when Spain lay claimed to the area that is now Texas, to 1997, when the DRT and the Alamo Committee erected the Wall of History at the Alamo.
The largest section is "The Alamo from A to Z," a virtual encyclopedia of everything related to the Alamo of history, and of popular culture. In this section, Chemerka gives brief biographies of the Alamo defenders, thumbnail reviews of Alamo books, and movies; in short, just about anything you ever wanted to know. Chemerka provides a source for many of the entries, to point the reader to additional information. An example from one of the entries will illustrate this better than my description:
I have already written to the Alamo Library for copies of two of the articles cited. For many of the books cited, Mr. Chemerka tells how the death of David Crockett is dealt with, which I found especially interesting. For example:EIGENAUER, CONRAD
German-born Alamo defender not currently acknowledged as one who participated in the thirteen-day siege and battle (see Thomas R. Lindley: "A Correct List of Alamo Patriots" in The Alamo Journal, #89, December 1993).
Chemerka also provides information on some of the best-known current researchers and experts on the Alamo. Some, such as Stephen L. Hardin, Kevin Young, and Gary Zaboly, will be familiar to devoted surfers of the Alamo de Parras web site.STORY OF THE ALAMO, THE
Arie M. Claiborne's 1901 book. Of Crockett's death: "Crockett too fell early in the fight, but he left near him a little mound of the dead that he had slain."
The final section is "Alamo Lists," covering such esoteric topics as:
Alamo Almanac contains some fantastic illustrations, by Gary Zaboly, John Bourdage, Joseph Musso, and Craig Covner, among others. Rod Timanus did two fine diagrams of the Alamo, showing the Mexican assault columns. Unfortunately, in my copy of the book, the right side of the text is missing from the first map, but that did not detract significantly from the value of the diagram.
NAMES THAT SHOULD BE ADDED to the list of Alamo defenders, according to research conducted by Thomas Ricks Lindley
BEST ALAMO ACTORS, from a 1989 Alamo Society poll - Fess Parker beat out John Wayne for the best Davy Crockett
TEXAS GOVERNORS WHO HAD BROTHERS IN ALAMO MOVIES - there were two.
William Chemerka provides a fascinating look at the Alamo, both of history and of popular culture. For a newcomer to Alamo history, Alamo Almanac will point the way for further reading. Those who already have a well-stocked Alamo library should make an effort to find a little extra room on the shelf for this unpretentious little volume. There is a lot of information packed into its pages.
Robert L. Durham, Dayton, Ohio