Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers

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9780195127423: Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers

From The Lone Ranger to Lonesome Dove, the Texas Rangers have been celebrated in fact and fiction for their daring exploits in bringing justice to the Old West. In Lone Star Justice, best-selling author Robert M. Utley captures the first hundred years of Ranger history, in a narrative packed with adventures worthy of Zane Grey or Larry McMurtry.
The Rangers began in the 1820s as loose groups of citizen soldiers, banding together to chase Indians and Mexicans on the raw Texas frontier. Utley shows how, under the leadership of men like Jack Hays and Ben McCulloch, these fiercely independent fighters were transformed into a well-trained, cohesive team. Armed with a revolutionary new weapon, Samuel Colt's repeating revolver, they became a deadly fighting force, whether battling Comanches on the plains or storming the city of Monterey in the Mexican-American War. As the Rangers evolved from part-time warriors to full-time lawmen by 1874, they learned to face new dangers, including homicidal feuds, labor strikes, and vigilantes turned mobs. They battled train robbers, cattle thieves and other outlaws--it was Rangers, for example, who captured John Wesley Hardin, the most feared gunman in the West.
Based on exhaustive research in Texas archives, this is the most authoritative history of the Texas Rangers in over half a century. It will stand alongside other classics of Western history by Robert M. Utley--a vivid portrait of the Old West and of the legendary men who kept the law on the lawless frontier.

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Review:

The Texas Rangers have alternately been described as "fearless men of sterling character" and "ruthless, brutal, and more lawless than the criminals they pursued." The truth, says Robert M. Utley in Lone Star Justice, "lies somewhere in between the extremes." The Rangers got their start in 1823, and for half a century they were "citizen soldiers periodically mobilized to fight Indians or Mexicans." They were professionalized in 1874, when they became lawmen employed by the state of Texas. Utley summarizes their colorful history under the leadership of figures like Jack Hays and Ben McCulloch. They came to national attention during the Mexican War, when they fought with distinction under Zachary Taylor at Monterey and also served as scouts throughout northern Mexico. As lawmen, they were noted for apprehending fugitives (the murdering outlaw John Wesley Hardin fell to one of their bullets) and controlling mobs, but they were less successful at putting bad guys behind bars (a problem that the author blames on "a defective criminal justice system"). At bottom, Lone Star Justice is a sober-minded but generally admiring assessment of a unique group of men. --John Miller

About the Author:


Robert M. Utley, former chief historian of the National Park Service, is a founding member and former president of the Western History Association, and the author of twelve acclaimed books on Western history, including The Lance and the Shield: The Life of Sitting Bull and biographies of Billy the Kid and George Armstrong Custer.

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