Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alamo All Stars

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I could rename the "Best Nonfiction Graphic Novel for Younger Readers" honor the "Nathan Hale Award," because his books are consistently great and blow me away. He's the Wayne Gretzky of nonfiction comics, head and shoulders better than everyone else.

So, he's got a lot to live up to, and I have to say that he succeeds with his latest, Alamo All Stars. It's name is a sort of misnomer, because so much of it deals with the social and historical context that led up to the battle at the Alamo, but it is a highly informative and engaging book. I read it at an auto shop while waiting to have a tire replaced (which should take less than 3 hours IMHO) and I laughed out loud no less than 3 times. In public. So what I am saying that this book is not only a great read in terms of form and content, it's also genuinely funny.
I loved seeing biographical sketches that breathed life into a number of names I am familiar with but know little about. From the cruel, proud Santa Anna to the reactionary, belligerent William Travis to legends Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett to "Once Again" Juan Seguin, I felt I really got to know the major players in a memorable way. What is more, Hale added a wrinkle to the usual book framework, a second narrator, Vicente Guerrero, who gives his insights from the viewpoint as a Mexican. There is so much to love about this book, and it is a worthy addition to the Hazardous Tales series. If you are new to it, you can check out my reviews of past volumes here, here, here, here, and here.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been celebratory. The Comics Alternative's Andy Kunka praised "Hale’s ability to put forward a complicated geopolitical conflict in ways that are engaging and even, at times, gently humorous."  Esther Keller concluded, "Give this to readers who are fans of the series, to that reader who loves history, or any graphic novel fan. This book will surely be a hit."

Alamo All Stars was published by Amulet Books, and they have a preview, video, and more info here.

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