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by Dr Stephen Hardin
Reviewed by John Prigent
I reckon everyone has heard of the Texas Rangers and their colourful history. Here it is set out in a very readable form. This is a "library" reprint of Osprey Elite 36, The Texas Rangers, so if you have that one you won't want to get the new book.
The Rangers' genesis in volunteer posses raised during the 1820s under Mexican rule opens the book, and I must admit it came as a surprise to me that they'd been conceived as an adjunct to Mexican authority which couldn't protect the incomers who'd been invited to settle unoccupied land. From protecting both these and Mexicans from Indian attack their role soon changed during the Texan War of Independence, and one company fought and died at the Alamo.
Over the years the Indian raids were countered and gradually died away, though in south Texas Mexican cross-border raiders continued to be a problem. "Hot pursuit", sometimes rather cold in actuality, across the border led to some decidedly dodgy moments, and on one occasion even the President of the USA was brought into play to beg the Rangers to come back across the Rio Grande. They refused to return until the Mexicans had returned the stolen cattle - and they got them!
The Rangers suffered from political interference from time to time, and once this went so far as to see all the experienced law enforcement officers sacked and replaced by a new Texas Governor's political cronies. The next Governor reversed this, and set up a new organisation which has kept them free from such politicisation ever since.
The Texas Rangers' reputation is well-deserved, and this book is a great read showing how they earned it. If you don't have the earlier version it will give you a lot of modelling ideas not only for "Old West" figures but about the Rangers' part in several military campaigns.
Review Copyright © 2000 by John