Robert Utley really has had his work cut out for him in following up on his 19th-century Texas Rangers book with this story of the Rangers of recent times. Of necessity, the post-1900 subject matter shifts from Western Americana to true crime. It is necessary for the author to trace the progress of the Rangers by following the tenures and politics of various governors.
Even in the hands of a master historian such as Utley, this remains a story of a typical modern law enforcement agency, battling bootleggers, kidnappers and bank robbers. Neither Frank Hamer, of the 1934 ambush of Bonnie and Clyde, nor the flamboyant Ranger Manuel T. (Lone Wolf) Gonzaullas measure up to the stature of “original” Rangers such as Capt. Jack Hays, who, figuratively, would fight off Comanches with one hand while holding Mexican bandidos at bay with the other. The most interesting segment of this 20th-century story is that of the years 1910-20, when the Mexican Revolution of Pancho Villa spilled violently across the border, and when Texas Rangers joined U.S. Army regulars and civilian posses in patrolling the “line” and fighting invading revolutionaries. —Richard H. Dillon