Escape from Texas
A Novel of Slavery and the Texas War of Independence
James W. Russell
210 pages / paper / $19.95
Available March 1, 2012
About the Author
Excerpt: Chapters 1-5
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In 1828 James, a slave, arrives in Texas, brought by his owner, Samuel Bingham. Texas is then a part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. James comes to Texas because he has no choice. But once there, he finds a postrevolutionary country where slavery is on the way out and his freedom is a real possibility. His owner, though, is determined to take advantage of the low cost of land in Texas to build up a farm into a cotton plantation with the use of slave labor. Over the next nine years James will experience and participate in a series of wrenching events that marked the origins of the Lone Star State.
Set in the years surrounding the 1836 Texas War of Independence, Escape from Texas is a solidly researched examination of the clashing aspirations of slaves, slave owners, Indians, and Mexicans during a turning point of the westward expansion of the United States.
While there are a number of novels set in this period of Texas history, Escape from Texas is the only novel that has a slave as a key protagonist and incorporates prominently that point of view of the turbulent events. Its provocative underlying thesis is that the extension of slavery was the true underlying cause of the Texas War of Independence, not yearnings for freedom by the Texas frontiersmen, as American folklore has traditionally had it. Escape from Texas is to the understanding of the Texas War of Independence as Howard Fast's Freedom Road was to the understanding of the post-Civil War periof of Reconstruction.
From the pre-publication reviews:
A tantalizing, compelling, and learned look into an under-examined period of history that bridges the experiences of African-Americans, Mexicans, Afro-Mexicans, Native-Americans, and Anglo-Americans alike. Few other books have so keenly explored what border life may have been like in the years leading up to the Mexican-American War. Certainly, no novel has so astutely captured the mindset of black slaves and their complicated relationships with Mexico during this era. This is an unusual piece of fiction, both for its tight historical accuracy and the scope of its imagination. This is a gripping and wonderful narrative, packed with surprises, as well as new lessons in history.
-Ben Vinson III, Johns Hopkins University,
Author of Black Mexico and Flight: The Story of Virgil Richardson,
A Tuskegee Airman in Mexico.