The three authors call their book a "historiography, that is, a history of the history."
In contrast with what veteran Texas writers Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford call the "Heroic Anglo Narrative" about the 1836 battle that came to symbolize Texas' war for independence from Mexico, preserving slavery was the revolution's driving force.
After winning independence from Spain, the Mexican republic opposed slavery. Although Texas received concessions from Mexico, settlers increasingly feared the abolishment of slavery, their economic foundation.
The movement for independence gained momentum as more white slave-owning settlers established cotton plantations.
Texas, which later joined the Confederacy after a brief time as a republic and as a member of the antebellum United States, was the only Southern state that placed slavery in its constitution, the authors point out.
With a seamless, conversational Texas style, the book ranges from the state's pioneer history, its days as a Spanish and Mexican colony and the Texas war of independence to the disputes over the Alamo's legacy and the preservation of the Spanish mission battle site as Texas' foundational shrine.
Yet the site, surrounded by tawdry businesses, grew shabby over the years, disappointing visitors who expected a grander experience.
The resulting conflicts over the site’s restoration close the book. While at times confusing and mired in bureaucratic details, the account overall reveals the national relevance of the Texas disputes.
Like Confederate monuments, the Alamo was used to support white supremacy. Political leaders from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush and Donald Trump have wielded it as a symbol of American power.
Outsized Texas legends parade through the book's pages, from republic founding fathers Stephen F. Austin, Juan Sequin and Sam Houston to historians, novelists and film-makers who have rehashed the Alamo story.
The writers make interesting the intractable battle between imposing women Adina de Zavala and Clara Driscoll for control of the Alamo site and its preservation.
That led to the site's ironclad control by the Daughters of the Texas Republic. The site's long deterioration under their watch, and their demure fall into corruption, led to the state wresting control of the Spanish mission site.
From the first days after the battle, Texans saw the defeat as a heroic sacrifice for freedom.
After Santa Anna led his army into Texas to quell the brewing rebellion, the battle at the Alamo instantly inspired Texas’ drive for independence with the cry “Remember the Alamo.”
The authors establish that the stand at the Spanish mission was unnecessary, that the men could have easily escaped. But no myth would have risen.
Along with a riveting account of the Alamo, the book details Texas' winning its independence at the subsequent Battle of San Jacinto with a volunteer army under Houston, a stunning reversal of fortune for the overconfident Santa Anna. The book's amusing vignettes about Texas lore include the likely apocryphal story that Santa Anna's siesta on the day of the battle involved a sexual encounter with a young woman named Emily Morgan, "the Yellow Rose of Texas."
The authors relate how the glorification of the Alamo in Texas seventh grade history classes led to virulent prejudice against Texans of Mexican descent. Tejanos recall suffering abuse from their classmates because of the Mexicans' killing of the Alamo rebels.
Over the years, the Mexican contribution to Texas independence has also been erased, along with the deaths of a number of Tejanos at the Alamo. Rising hostility led to the Texas rangers massacring hundreds of Mexicans in the early 20th century.
Outside of Texas, the battle held little importance until Walt Disney produced a three-part film about legendary 19th century frontiersman Davy Crockett, who died at the Alamo.
Crockett, played by the charismatic Fess Parker, is shown gallantly fighting off Santa Anna's rampaging soldiers, swinging his rifle "Old Betsy" at them after running out of ammunition. His death is never shown.
The Disney show, with its catchy theme song, turned into a craze among young baby boomer males, sparking a run on Crockett-style coonskin caps and spreading the myth of the Alamo as a heroic battle for freedom from a despotic Mexican government led by Santa Anna, who ordered the killings of the Alamo's survivors.
Later, John Wayne perpetuated the Alamo myth, portraying Crockett in a jingoistic film that equated the Alamo with Vietnam. Wayne also depicted Crockett dying heroically, never surrendering.
Crockett along with Jim Bowie and commander William Travis are the "holy trinity" of Alamo martyrs, and the book demolishes the myths surrounding them.
Bowie, who came to Texas after a history of fraudulent land swindles, is shown as a murderer and con-man. Suffering from what the authors say was typhoid, Bowie likely died in bed, rather than gallantly rising to battle the encroaching army.
The story of the slave-owning Travis drawing a line in the dirt with his sword and challenging those willing to die in the battle to cross the line is another key element of the Alamo myth. The book shows that the dramatic story, depicted in both the Disney and John Wayne movies, was concocted by a disreputable character purporting to be a battle survivor.
And, Mexican accounts from the battle indicate that Crockett probably surrendered, and was killed by the Mexican army, under Santa Anna's orders. Some say he begged for his life. The authors say that rather than the glamorous Fess Parker, Crockett was a paunchy middle-aged man who came to Texas after the failure of his political career.
Another key element of the book is Texas' drive to acquire the Alamo collection of musician Phil Collins, who became fascinated by the battle as a child. The book disputes the authenticity of artifacts in Collins' collection, such as a knife supposedly owned by Bowie and possessions of Crockett.
Despite the dubious validity of the items, the state of Texas is committed to a building a $450 million museum at the Alamo site to display the collection.
In a thorough piece of investigative reporting, the book examines the political battles around the plan to renovate the site, led by George P. Bush, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.
Bush, the son of former presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at first called for an inclusive view of the Alamo and its history, incorporating viewpoints of Mexican citizens. The political disputes also include demands by Native Americans to preserve an ancient burial ground discovered at the site and African-Americans' desires to preserve an adjacent building where a Woolworth's lunch counter was integrated in the 1950s.
But Bush, receiving fire from right-wing protesters and Trump-supporting Republicans, has turned into a staunch supporter of the "Anglo Heroic Narrative."
That's what the authors want to change. They don't want to really forget the Alamo. They wish for "Remember the Alamo" to have meaning for all of the state's citizens.