“Come and Take It!” – the war-cry shouted by the defenders of the Alamo, but also the title of the new book by Landon Wallace. What makes this book unique among other historical tales surrounding the battle at the Alamo is that its focus is not on the heroes that we’ve all studied, but about the only man to escape death at the battle – Joe the Slave.
Joe is William Barrett Travis’s slave, and helps Travis defend the fort until the fight is over. Just as the Mexican army storms the compound, Texas legend Jim Bowie gives Joe a piece of paper to guard with his life. After the battle ends, Joe is released by Santa Anna a free man, and told to spread the word about the mightiness of the Mexican army. Joe assumes the surname of Travis, and ventures out to start a new life. What happens to Joe after his release is both ironic and tragic, all the while trying to safeguard Jim Bowie’s secret.
The novel is told from the perspective of Joe Travis’ descendants, and as they uncover the pieces of little-known history, we learn not only about the impending Alamo massacre, but about what happened after the battle as well.
Joe Travis’ great-great-great-grandson, Nat Travis, becomes enmeshed in the search for Jim Bowie’s secret, carried away from the Alamo 180 years earlier. But someone else wants the secret as well, and will stop at nothing to get it – even murder. Nat Travis and his brother’s former wife reunite at the funeral of Nat’s grandfather, after many years, and investigate the mystery together, putting themselves in harm’s way to solve the puzzle. But is it worth it?
Come and Take It was replete with history, mystery, and romance. I learned about the unsung hero of the Alamo fight, and joined in the search for buried secrets. Wallace drew me into the drama that was the Battle of the Alamo, and allowed me to recognize that there are many unlikely heroes in life with whom we cross paths every day – we just don’t realize it.
I recommend Come and Take It for an enjoyable and entertaining read. Get your Texas history on! Come and take it!