Having read nearly every major account of the Alamo, it’s my opinion that these are the five essential books about both the history of the Alamo compound and the siege that changed the course of history:
1. The Alamo Story, by JR Edmondson: A general history of the Alamo itself, from the time before the Alamo was built to the present day.
2. Three Roads to the Alamo, by William C. Davis: Biographies of Travis, Bowie, and Crockett. Thorough but engaging. Davis was able to uncover a tremendous amount of new material, especially about Jim Bowie. Some have criticized his take on Bowie because it’s less than flattering, but let’s face it: Bowie was a flawed man. To my mind, Davis’ account is both fair and even-handed.
3. The Alamo Reader, by Todd Hansen: The most thorough collection of complete primary accounts about the Alamo. This is where you can read the actual accounts written by the Mexican generals and other participants and spectators.
4. The Illustrated Alamo 1836 – A Photographic Journey, by Mark Lemon: A detailed study of the Alamo Compound in 1836, it’s hard to understand the battle without understanding the ground it was fought on. Mark Lemon gives us an historically and archaeologically verified view of the Alamo compound.
5. Texian Iliad, by Stephen L. Hardin: A general military overview of the Texas revolution. Note that Texian Iliad is not about the Alamo per se, though the Alamo is necessarily part of the story, but about the entire military campaign that lead to Texas independence. It places the siege of the Alamo in a broader military context.