A continuation of the author’s Lone Star Justice (2001), bringing the tale of the renowned—and sometimes infamous—Texas Rangers to the present.
Founded to battle Comanches and other Indians on the open range, the unit that ranks among the world’s best-known police detachments became not very particular about its targets along about the time of the Mexican Revolution, when this sequel gathers steam. The decade of the revolution (1910–20) is, writes Utley, “the blackest period in the history of the Texas Rangers”; so vigorous were the special agents in keeping the border under Anglo control that police murders of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were common. One Army scout reported, for instance, finding the bodies of ten Mexicans hanging alongside a road, each with a bullet in the forehead, which one former Ranger called the brand of the unit in a process known along the borderlands as “evaporation.” Utley condemns the Rangers of the time for undermining rather than upholding the law, proceeding to a period in which the governor commissioned Rangers to “carry a gun and arrest law-breakers, such as editors, executives, and bankers” who dared oppose his enlightened rule. In time, conditions changed, giving credence to the thought that good politics make for good police. Usually few in number, the Rangers dwindled into the Depression, when constant bank robberies gave them new opportunities to fan their six-shooters. In the modern era, they had to adjust to conditions, admitting women into the unit (none too successfully); attending to strange confrontations with the Branch Davidians (more successfully than did federal authorities) and right-wing militias; and recruiting minority officers none too enthusiastically. On that note, it is something of an irony, given the Rangers’ Latino-hating tendencies of old, that Utley considers the best of the best Rangers to have been one Manuel Gonzaullas, whom he deems an “exemplary leader.”
A valuable addition to the library of Texana.