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review 2018-07-17 14:04
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend - Kody Keplinger
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book was okay. Keplinger did some cool things with stereotypes and labels, but for the most part the book was just boring and repetitive. 

I watched the movie version at some point and honestly can't remember anything about it. I saw this in the library and the bright pink spine was just calling to me so I figured I'd give it a try for an easy read. This book felt like it took forever to get through. So boring. It is just mishap after mishap.

Maybe I am to the point where I am too old to read high-school books, but the whole time I was just like, "In real life, you would look back on this and realize how overdramatic you were. None of this is a big deal." Ironically enough, the things that were a big deal (father's alcoholism, having sex as a distraction) are the things Bianca doesn't tell anyone about. Freaking talk about your problems, it's not that hard. 

I think I rolled my eyes more than Bianca did. 

After reading the book, I read the author bio and saw that she wrote it her senior year of high school. This makes a lot of sense to me. I see the classic high-school-level-writing-stuff that I did myself in my stories from that time (all the boys love the main character, you analyze books you read in class, you overexplain everything). Kudos to her for finishing a novel, getting it published, and having it made into a movie. But this book was just not for me. 
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review 2018-06-17 15:35
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo★★★★☆
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

I might have paid more attention if my Texas History lessons had been more like this book. But then, I suppose such a candid examination of the characters and motivations of the real people who created our history would not have been considered suitable subject matter for junior high school students.

 

Despite its subtitle (The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo), Duel of Eagles is really about the Texas revolution, covering a period of history from Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 to Santa Anna’s death in 1876. It could be considered a revisionist history, using original sources that proponents of a heroic Texas origin story may disregard or consider unreliable. Some critics of the book claim the author is pro-Mexican, but it seems to me that he is simply giving equal weight to Mexican sources and doesn’t hesitate to skewer the characters and actions of Mexicans and Tejanos as much as the Anglo-Americans. He notes where there are conflicting accounts of events and provides the reader with 71 pages of footnotes and bibliography to document his sources.

 

Altogether, it’s an entertaining and horrifying account of the Texas journey from Mexican province to independent republic to annexation into the United States, blowing up myths of heroic deeds and high-minded Texians seeking freedom from oppression along the way. At some point, it got a little wearisome, because, yes, we get it, this was really just a combination of speculative land-grabbing by non-residents and a push to preserve the slave state and part of the precursor to Manifest Destiny, but I started to feel as though we were beating a dead horse by the time Santa Anna surrendered at San Jacinto.

 

Hardcover, received as a gift from my father in 1994, who was an amateur Texas history buff. And a little surprising that he gifted it to me, as the views of the author don’t seem to fit his. How I wish I had actually read this when he was living, so I could have asked him about it. But history and the Wild West mythos didn’t interest me then, and I forgot I even had this until he passed away in January. Now it’s too late, and I can only read his books and remember him.

 

Previous Updates:

2/11/18 – page 11/431

 

6/3/18 – page 52/431

 

6/5/18 – page 63/431

 

6/9/18 – page 93/431

 

6/9/18 – page 109/431

 

6/11/18 – page 129/431

 

6/12/18 – page 151/431

 

6/12/18 – page 202/431

 

6/15/18 – page 259/431

 

6/16/18 – page 267/431

 

 

 

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text 2018-06-16 12:53
Duel of Eagles - page 267/431

The fate of the Mexican Army's wounded soldiers after the battle at the Alamo from Colonel José Enrique de la Peña:

 

“In fact, the plight of our wounded was quite grievous,” de la Peña bitterly declared, “and one could hardly enter the places erroneously called hospitals without trembling with horror. The wailing of the wounded and their just complaints penetrated the innermost recesses of the heart; there was no one to extract a bullet, no one to perform an amputation, and many unfortunates died whom medical science could have saved. General Santa Anna doubtless thought that he could alleviate the sufferings of his victims by appearing frequently among them, smiling at those miserable men who scarcely had the energy to see him, offering them their full pay with one hand but ordering it not to be disbursed with the other. There were many fools who were encouraged by his words, but to mislead them was an insult to their misfortune.”

 

Adding to this insult, Santa Anna refused to donate any of his linens to be used as bandages for the wounded and “grew angry when asked for so much as a single peso”.

 

Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long 

 

 

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text 2018-06-15 18:30
Duel of Eagles - page 259/431
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

Later, Americans would claim that there was no surrender, that Crockett went down like Hercules, clubbing Mexican soldiers into a bony mash at his feet with the shattered stump of Old Betsy. They would dress him up like Natty Bumpo in buckskins and a raccoon cap, put oaths on his lips and a dripping Bowie knife in his hands. They would name steamboats, railroad trains, frontier towns, and a marching song after him. They would anoint this day, March 6, 1836, the inaugural moment of Manifest Destiny. 

 

As it was, in the end, shortly after six o'clock in the morning, David Crockett made a choice. The Go Ahead man quit. He did more than quit. He lied. He dodged. He denied his role in the fighting. 

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text 2018-06-12 21:00
Duel of Eagles - page 202/431
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long

Like Travis, Fannin’s desire to lead outstripped his abilities. He was baldly ambitious and, at least to all appearances, had come to Texas to make huge profits. In civilian life he had traded in slaves, but even the slave-owning farmers in Texas seemed to find his practice of bringing over Africans unsavory. His position as commander at Goliad struck them as profiteering also. He mastered human beings for money. Now there were ugly rumors among the troops that he mastered human beings for his private ascension as well. Southerners understood slavery. Not one would knowingly brook being any man’s slave, not even for the glory of Texas.

In letter after letter, Fannin asked to be relieved of command. All he wanted now was to go home to his wife and children. To his credit, however, the star-crossed colonel was resolved to make his stand at Goliad… at least until the council furloughed him.

 

He had attempted to bring men and supplies from Goliad to the besieged at the Alamo, but they were already so short of supplies and in such bad shape that they were forced to turn back.

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