Sam Houston Review

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Sam Houston Review

Courtney Kilday

Review of Sam Houston by James L. Haley

HIST 2301.CO1

November 27th, 2017



The biography I decided to write about was Sam Houston by Austin, Texas author  James L. Haley. Sam Houston was first published in 2002 then again in August 30th 2004 by Oklahoma Press. Not only did I find this book intriguing and an extraordinarily unique take on Houston’s life , many others did too. Haley has won many awards due to this biography including the Carol Horton Tullis Memorial Prize in 2002 and the Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Biography in 2003. (SAM HOUSTON) In this biography James not only highlights Houston’ s complex personality but he also show cases his major roles in Texas and America’ s history throughout the 19th century. James Haley provided an amazing, in- depth look into the man and his career.


Originally, Haley and his publishers planned on having the book out ten years earlier, the book was to be ready for Sam Houstons birthday in 1993 but by lucky chance Haley came across hundreds of papers at the Catholic Archives of Texas  that had yet to be reviewed for a biography. Haley researched Sam Houston for over fifteen years before this book was published, with over ninety pages of creditable sources and new journals none of Houston’s pervious biographies have ever seen and other papers in written by Houston’s friends, family and colleagues Hayley believed  that this book was the largest and most complete biography ever written about that legendary icon. (Krystyniak, Frank) He examined letters, editorials, speeches, news paper reports and other historic pieces to express the American hero and the spirit inside of him, you’ re left with what he did and what he believed.

        Sam Houston is a great book that properly showcases you all aspects of Houston’ life, after reading the book I knew not only his whole career but the man behind the suit. Although he was a Union member, slave holder, and Governor of a Texas we were able to see that his true ambition in his career and thought process was not what you would expect. Houston opposed Abolitionism, stood against the growing of slavery and stood up for the rights of Native American’s. (Haley, James) Haley then  continues to express to the reader Houston’s belief of equality of all humans. Houston was the protege of the soon to be President Andrew Jackson and was assumed to be the next for presidency after Andrew Jackson retired until a failed marriage lead to scandal ending  his political career. Shortly after he leaves his old life he begins to live with the Cherokees until he marries again and becomes  a saved as a Baptist. His conversion was the domino that lead to his political career to start again. (Haley, James) Through and through Houston was a Union lover, he rather respectfully step down as governor of Texas than fall into secession. No matter what  was happening he continued to follow what he believed in instead of submitting to the pressure of the Confederacy. After finishing Haley’s book I found myself being extremely interested in his life. Because Haley focused on his life behind the career I got to see that Houston was human just like the rest of us. Haley showed us that he was a normal person even after being in the political spotlight  he still found himself living with the Cherokees. He was a complex man with complex thoughts living through adversity This books shows that the strong political and governor bled just the same as everyone else.