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Book review: 'Texas Ranger' spent his years dispensing justice, catching Bonnie and Clyde

Posted November 20

"TEXAS RANGER: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde," by John Boessenecker, Thomas Dunne Books, $29.99, 528 pages (nf)

John Boessenecker, the author of the hefty "Texas Ranger" about the man who killed Bonnie and Clyde, doesn't appear to have left anything out.

As he writes about "The Epic Life of Frank Hamer," he includes details not only about the famous last shootout with the cold-blooded, ruthless pair of bandits but about the mules (like loyal Old Monk) Hamer rode, the men he killed and the paths he trod.

It's pretty much an encyclopedia of facts and is fairly challenging to penetrate. However, if you're a fan of Wild West adventure, the infamous Texas Rangers, and minor details on your way to solid evidence, this book may be for you.

Hamer was full of reckless courage, skilled with guns, adaptable, decent and dedicated. Boessenecker tells it all, trying to walk through all the information with reason and care.

From the time Hamer was a young boy, he fought for people who needed help. He was a self-appointed hero. When he could, he protected black people from white mobs, brought peace and never forgot a black man who helped save his life after he was shot in the back and head and nearly died.

The Texas Rangers, formed in 1835 as a small paramilitary group, evolved into a group of couriers and scouts and, from there, into a law-keeping force not to be messed with. Historic pictures of Hamer augment the stories of Texas legend and lore.

Boessenecker lays out the events that led to cornering and killing Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, a pair of ruthless lawbreakers who had killed nine men (six of them law officers), robbed banks, homes and businesses, and broke dangerous men out of the Eastham prison.

Hamer accomplished in the three months what federal officials and law enforcement authories of a dozen states couldn't do in more than a year.

"As horseback lawman, border gunfighter, manhunter, outlaw killer, Ranger captain, town tamer, investigator, battle against the Klan, and gangbuster, Hamer had no peer," Boessenecker writes.

Hamer is known as the man who killed Bonnie and Clyde, Boessenecker concludes, which is much less than he was.

"Texas Ranger" includes violence throughout, including an image of a hanging and burning, shootouts and other deaths, some of which are described in more detail than others. There are a few instances of objectionable language and several mentions of sexual relations and promiscuity, none of which are detailed.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 40 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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