Escape from Texas

Written by James W. Russell
Review by B. J. Sedlock

In 1829 Samuel Bingham brings his slave James Robinson to the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, where he intends to acquire land. Bingham eventually purchases more slaves smuggled in from Africa, including Elizabeth, a house worker, whom James begins to court. The neighboring Gomezes show James a paper saying the Mexican government has abolished slavery. James leaves Bingham to work for the Gomezes, but then Mexico rescinds the decree, which enables Bingham to recover James and have him whipped as a runaway.

As the Anglo colonists band together to revolt against Mexico, Pedro Gomez helps James escape south to Matamoros, where he will be truly free. James apprentices himself to a shoemaker, earns some money, and attempts to rescue Elizabeth, but with unfortunate results. Then Gomez asks James to return yet again to Texas to help forge alliances between the slaves and Mexico. Will James risk his life to help his adopted country fight the Anglos?

The history is extremely interesting. I didn’t realize how much more besides the Alamo there was to the Texas revolution of the 1830s, nor did I know about the role that the slavery issue had in those events. The book is unusual in being told from a slave’s point of view, but it could use some editing. “Information dump” dialogues slow the story down, and typos like “strattle” for “straddle” need fixing. Characterization isn’t strong: I never felt I really knew James as a person. More polishing would make this a standout novel.