Lone Star Book Blog Tour: Lamar’s Folly by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr


Jeffrey Stuart Kerr

Genre: Texas Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 320

Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.

Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.



Four Stars

Lamar’s Folly is the compelling fictional story of real characters and events in Texas history that elicits the desire for further investigation and research. The overall story begins around the time of the Battle of the Alamo and then the Battle of San Jacinto, when Texas eventually became a Republic, and Mirabeau Lamar was destined to become Vice President and then President of said Republic of Texas.

Jeffrey Stuart Kerr brings the truth of this time in Texas History to life by providing voices to historical names, along with a bit of fictional embellishment. What is most compelling, at least for me, is the stark contrast Kerr presents in this fiction between the perceptions of Edward Fontaine (secretary to Lamar) and his slave Jacob. Both men meet the same people (mostly) and see the same events unfold but through different lenses and with varied experiences. The most prominent example is with Sam Houston. Both men see this man differently. Fontaine because of his view of Houston’s drunkenness and animosity toward Lamar, and Jacob because Houston treated him with a modicum of kindness. As we see in Lamar’s Folly, sometimes the most uncluttered view of people is the truest.

Caution: The racial epithets and slurs against African Americans (mostly Jacob), Mexicans, and Native Americans are realistic for the time period yet uncomfortable to read in today’s environment. Written any other way, however, would render the story unconvincing, unfortunately. With that said, presenting the reader with both Jacob’s and Edward Fontaine’s viewpoints provides a more rounded and believable telling of this fictional story based on very real people.

I grew up with the Ballad of the Alamo playing in the background (I still tear up when I hear it). I am a true Texan and embrace my Texas heritage wholeheartedly. However, reading Lamar’s Folly reminds me that I don’t know or don’t remember all of my Texas History (my Texas History classes were a long time ago). A big Thank You goes out to Jeffrey Stuart Kerr for presenting the reading audience with such an engaging story about Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar and his incredible folly. What is this folly, you ask? Read this book and find out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.



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