Book Review and Giveaway: Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

BEFORE THE ALAMO:
A Tejana’s Story
by
FLORENCE BYHAM WEINBERG
Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas History 
Publisher: Maywood House
Date of Publication: September 17, 2021
Number of Pages: 296 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Emilia Altamirano, half Otomí Indian, half pure Spanish, is born in 1814, the year after the Battle of the Medina River, where her father fought as an officer in the Mexican Royalist Army. She grows up in Bexar de San Antonio unacknowledged by her father, raised by her Otomí Indian mother, and “adopted” as an unofficial ward by José Antonio Navarro, hero of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico. She learns to read, write, and acts as a page for the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She learns nursing during a cholera epidemic and later tends the wounded on both sides during and after the Battle of the Alamo. She survives, but as a Tejana, Spanish-speaking, and a loyal citizen of Mexico, she faces an uncertain future.

PRAISE FOR BEFORE THE ALAMO:
“Yesterday, I finished Before the Alamo, figuratively gasping for breath…Thank you for a joyful experience, so helpful in this time of disillusion and anxiety.” – reader Marti Nodine
I didn’t grow up in Texas, but I learned a little about the Alamo when I was young. The basic things that everyone learns – “Remember the Alamo!”, the deaths of notables such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and the fact that the Texans lost. I never really gave much thought to the actual historical setting or the events leading up to that battle, though. In her engrossing and clearly well-researched book, Before the Alamo, Florence Byham Weinberg paints a vivid picture of the people who populated Mexican Texas.

Emilia is the focal point of the story. She is born in 1814, in the municipality of Béxar, the result of a short-lived love affair between her mother and a man of Spanish descent. She and her mother work for the father who refuses to acknowledge Emilia, and they are considered lower class. But Emilia learns to read and write, and works her way up to a position of some importance as a clerk for the city council. The story unfolds, following Emilia up to the Battle of the Alamo and its aftermath.

I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, and I appreciated how Weinberg used Spanish terms throughout the book, but also used the English equivalent nearby. This made me feel immersed in the story and the culture without having to stop and check Google Translate for every unfamiliar term.

Weinberg also pulled no punches on how some Anglos treated the Tejanos when they came into Texas. While there were some who were honorable and treated the Tejanos with dignity (as exemplified by the character of Charles McCray, a doctor who befriended Emilia when she was working to help others during a cholera outbreak), there were some who were rude and downright ugly. Weinberg didn’t try to pretty up those interactions to make the white folks all look better. In the modern era where racism is a topic that’s front and center, it highlights that the arrival of the Anglo wasn’t necessarily something welcomed by all Tejanos, and for good reason.

The story is compelling and the characters are well developed. It’s got action, tension, romance, something for almost every reader. And this was another of my favorite kinds of books, the kind where the story is both enjoyable and educational. Before the Alamo has inspired me to learn more about Texas history, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read it and learn something yourself. It gets five big stars from me.

Florence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch as well as a farm and travelled with her military family during World War Two. After earning a Ph.D., she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written four books in the Pfefferkorn historical mystery series, three additional historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs, horses, and conversations with great-souled friends.
WEBSITE◆  AMAZONFACEBOOK

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
Grand Prize winner gets a signed copy of Before the Alamo and Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross;
2nd & 3rd winners get a signed copy of Before the Alamo.
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/20/21)

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

12/13/21

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12/13/21

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The Clueless Gent

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12/14/21

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12/15/21

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The Plain-Spoken Pen

12/16/21

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Missus Gonzo

12/16/21

Review

The Book’s Delight

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Author Interview

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Review

Reading
by Moonlight

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1 Response to Book Review and Giveaway: Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

  1. Love a book that teaches and entertains — and I am sadly undereducated on this part of Texas history. I look forward to reading the book. Thanks for the great review!

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