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The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense 2nd Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0292734005
ISBN-10: 029273400X
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 2nd edition (January 1, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029273400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292734005
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This classic was first published in 1935. The consummate western historian Walter Prescott Webb, assimilated a history of the first century (actually from 1823 - 1935) of the Texas Rangers in his book, THE TEXAS RANGERS: A CENTURY OF FRONTIER DEFENSE. This 1965 reprinting contains a foreword by Lyndon B. Johnson.

Webb covers not only the history of the Texas Rangers, but also focuses on some of its more noteworthy, or to some, notorious, men who wore the star. From Jack Hays to Frank Hamer, the reader is given some of the high points of their careers, from the Battle of Plum Creek to the capture of Bonnie and Clyde.

Webb, great historian that he was, was not a great writer and the book reads rather slowly at times. For entertainment value, I preferred Robert Utley's book of a similar name, Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers, but this one does cover some interesting material you wont find in Utley's book, so both should be considered for a better understanding of the early years of the Rangers. One frustrating thing about this book, because of its age, most of the books mentioned in the brief bibliography are long out of print and nearly impossible to find. Utley's book being far more recent (2202) contains numerous resources that are more available for further study.

Please don't consider that a knock on this valuable book, however, as much of what is provided here is quite detailed of major events. Webb gives a good account of many specific events in Ranger history and a good narrative of the Ranger's role in shaping the Texas frontier.

Monty Rainey

[...]
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Format: Hardcover
Written in 1935, this book takes a look at the first 100 years of the Texas Rangers. Not an easy read it is very detailed . This book should be used in Texas History Classes where that course is taught. It offers a realistic look at the brutality of life in frontier Texas. Although slow going at times this book has fascinated me for the twenty odd years I have owned it. I use the index as a source of reference when I want to look back into my native Texas' history. I enjoyed this book and readily recommend it for those interested in the early history of Texas.
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Format: Paperback
In his forward to this book former President Lyndon Johnson describes the American West not so much a place as it is a symbol, a symbol of America's confidence that on beyond the moment, on beyond the present terrain, the world will be brighter, the future better. This is the story of a group of Texas men who sought to fulfill those words.

Originally written in 1935, this is the book upon which most other works on the Texas Rangers are based. Unfortunately, the real story of the Texas Rangers, i.e., the unsanitized version, is not here. According to the author the records of the early years were destroyed by not one but two fires. As a result, this book, like most others, can only do its best to cover the origin of the Rangers up to the Civil War. This portion of Ranger history, the more juicy and flamboyant portion of the Ranger story, is limited but there is a sufficiency to leave a very good taste of what the early rangers were all about, defending the early Texas frontier against the Indians and Mexico. However, with records since the Civil War abundant, the story thickens up quite a bit as it moves into the era of the Wild West and the twentieth century. Along the way we see the Rangers transition from a frontier paramilitary force to a more formalized constabulary.

This is quite a good work about the early Texas guardians who were as indifferent to the lives of their enemies as their enemies were to the lives of the people the Rangers defended. It is a shame the early story has been lost to time and memory. But maybe it is better that way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent history of Texas Rangers, who were basically a quasi-military state police (3-4 companies, at most 300 men) which dated from the days of the Texas Republic (1836-45) until the present, although today it is more of a traditional state police force. Webb (whose edition has a foreward written by Lyndon B. Johnson) addresses primarily the first century of the Rangers, with the subtitle "A Century of Frontier Defense."

Operating within the borders of what is still the largest of the lower 48 states -- someone once remarked "you can drive across Texas all day and STILL be inside it" -- at a time of limited communication and mobility, the Texas Rangers were a group of men who were dednicated to enforcing the laws of their state and dealing harshly with those who violated them.
At the time the Rabgers were formed, there were still remnants of Indian tribes and the border with Mexico was easily crossed, with resultant cross border cattle stealing at a time when cattle raising was the a major part of Texas commerce.

The difficultly of bring law and order to such a vast region with so little men cannot be imagined. However, operating singly or in regional companies, the Rangers slowly did so. They often stalked known lawbreakers when they were sleeping or otherwise unaware, and in many instances when the found them the lawbreakers were shot on the spot and were not brought back alive (imagine the difficulties a single Ranger would have bring multiple prisioers to a county seat court).
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