Texas Sunrise: Two Novels of the Texas Republic
Love and hate drive Massacre at Goliad, the first novel in this two-novel collection depicting the Texas Revolution in the 1800s. Thomas and Joshua Buckalew emigrate from Tennessee to farm and raise cattle. They know difficulties will arise for sure but initially never realize that the hatred overlying deep fear among the white-skinned “Texians,” Mexicans and marauding Indians will irrevocably propel the settlers to the precipice of disaster. Elmer Kelton highlights this fascinating story by exploring the conundrum of rational and irrational prejudice. As Josh and Tom get to know their neighbors, the Hernandez family, Tom exemplifies the generalized dislike of Mexicans based on one experience of attempted robbery the brothers experienced on their trek to Texas. But Josh is the more interesting character, especially as this novel culminates in the notorious Goliad massacre of March 27, 1836, when Mexicans accepted the surrender of Sam Houston’s Texian soldiers at the Goliad fort and then proceeded to murder every one of them. It seems that Josh loses too many people he loves. Now he must make wise choices based on horrific memories, internally warring with the knowledge that hatred fuels both prejudice and war.
After the Bugle, the second novel, chronicles the return of Josh, Ramon Hernandez and other neighbors to rebuild their homes after Texan independence is declared. Tensions fester into battles up to the last suspense-filled page.
Those readers who love historical detail laced with dynamic characters and exciting action will be more than pleased by these exhilarating two novels that are far more than typical Western stories. Elmer Kelton understands what shapes peoples’ attitudes and beliefs, and his expansive knowledge of Texas history and the rigors of pioneer life is superb! This reviewer highly recommends Texas Sunrise.