What made me want to review Joe’s Alamo Unsung, a historical fiction, was that it contained heroes that were Muslim, Chinese, Indians as well as black and white. This seems a perfect time for a book that celebrates the uniqueness and value of us all, uniting instead of dividing. And Cook’s book does not disappoint.
Maybe because of Cook’s many years as an immigration attorney, his empathy for the many different characters is obvious, even the ones without the best intentions. Only the brutal General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who wanted the Alamo to be a symbol of hopelessness and death to all who opposed him is totally without a conscience.
The story begins with William Travis’ father purchasing him a slave (Joe) to help him with farming chores so he can continue his education. Luckily for Joe, William is not typical of a slave owner. He immediately sees how intelligent Joe is and begins teaching him in secret. Math is Joe’s strongest gift which allows him to help William by keeping the different merchants honest with their counting.
Their lives are connected in many ways including finding the women they would marry at the very same time. We see how unfair life can be as William is exchanging vows with Rosanna in a grand ceremony in her father’s mansion at the same time Joe and Emily are being ushered into the slave quarters downstairs for their simple ceremony. We will come to find out that it is Joe and Emily’s love that survives while Rosanna ruins what she had with William.
William Travis eventually becomes a lawyer and is persuaded to move west towards Texas, where land and opportunity await and Joe goes with him. Emily stays behind with a vow from Joe that he will come back for her. Not only is this a story about how this trip takes William and Joe to the battle of the Alamo, it’s also very much a love story about how Joe and Emily find their way back to each other. Finally, I love who Cook chose to deliver those immortal words, “Remember the Alamo!” which became a rallying cry for the brave who fight oppression. You’ll have to read his book to find out who it was but it shows how he gives everyone a voice.
One reviewer remarked that Cook’s work ‘was tender, bawdy and sad by turns.’ I wish he would get rid of the bawdy scenes altogether, they don’t advance the narrative and without them, this could be marketed as an excellent children’s book. Joe’s Alamo Unsung, a story of a slave who rises far above any expectations is such an uplifting story for us all.
Joe’s Alamo Unsung is available at www.joesalamounsung.com and www.amazon.com among other sites.
Thank you Edna, Your spot-on review on my novel, Joe’s Alamo Unsung, read between the lines, behind the curtains and deep into the genesis of my intentions. I was very impressed that Joe said there were all races and religions at the Alamo. My goal was to take that line, recent facts and the actual survivors - a white woman, her toddler and a slave- and write an inclusive Alamo update. Your comment that “Cook’s book does not disappoint“, soothes my mind with waves of satisfaction. Although blacks and native Americans like it you, screenwriters and a producer agree that the bawdy scenes should go when making an exciting movie. It seems we are out voted for future editions, too.