M. K. Wisehart, an accomplished journalist with all the higher gifts of writing as well as the historical perspective necessary to make a valuable contribution to history, has produced a fascinating addition to the private life, character, and public career of a remarkable man of destiny—General Sam Houston. This biographical narrative, which was written with an ease and grace that any novelist might envy, has a real quality of growth and is not merely a record of things that happened. The large volume contains much information that has not been hitherto accessible.
Those who have know Sam Houston only as a figure in history books will suddenly realize that they are being introduced to a person different from any other they have ever known or read about. The magnetic attraction of the general’s personality is sure to stimulate the reader throughout the book. This atmosphere prevails equally during Houston’s wildcat childhood days as during the stormy years of his adult life. He is always up to some venture that few would choose to undertake and all would yearn to possess the valor to challenge.
In historical substance the author has succeeded in making a striking character study of a historically great man by re-evaluating the outstanding traits of his complicated personality and blending them with the great events of the day in which he participated. The narrative of the events is consecutively told, section by section, tracing the major phases of Houston’s career: his decision to go to Texas; his relations as Commander-in-Chief with the General Council, the legislative body of the first provisional government; his plans for defending Texas without sacrificing the Alamo garrison; his strategy during the forty-day campaign which culminated in victory at San Jacinto; his anti-war policy as president of the Texas Republic; his annexation policy; his thirteen years of service in the United States Senate and his attempts to check the drift toward war and to heal the breach between North and South; and his anti-secession policy as governor of Texas.
In a singularly unbiased account the author draws the likeness of Houston as a human of great courage in the face of hardship, privation, and peril, of a man of broad mental vision, of rich imagination and deep intuition, destined to become great in his country’s service. Yet at no time does Wisehart ignore his subject’s many personal weaknesses. Pages are devoted to Houston’s moments of defeat, despair, and drunkenness. There are many equally humorous and diverting incidents which cause the reader to become even more attracted to the main character as well as to the book. The entire volume is a good example of straightforward writing abounding in human interest and unmarred by any attempt at dramatic effect. It will be recognized as an endeavor of first-rate importance written by a man who may be considered thoroughly qualified for the task.
The work is particularly rich in quotations and references and is capped with a bibliography which is abundant without seeming to be a wanton display of industry minus judgment.