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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Boessenecker: The Long Arm of the Law... and the TRUTH

The LAST thing I needed was another Texas Ranger book. At last count I had around thirty and stacks of related publications... Then John Boessenecker, hereafter referred to as “The Boss,” recently published his long awaited epic on Ranger Frank Hamer, boldly titled TEXAS RANGER. If you thought you knew about Frank Hamer, you don't. I sure thought I did. I have written a lot about my favorite Texas hero... he has been the subject of two of my bronze sculptures, and even a couple of my videos, but anybody can read books and summarize with colorful jargon. 

I am a history buff, Boessenecker is a historian. It is the difference between my seeing the historic moon walk LIVE on television, and Neil Armstrong.

I can do decent book reviews when I choose to... but I cannot even fake objectivity about this. I have too much personal involvement with the story. All I can do is offer by deepest thanks to John, who has written a beautiful, worthy book about a magnificent lawman. After a good cry, yes, even real Texas men cry, I raced to write this while the lump was still in my throat. There IS Justice, but sometimes it takes a long time.

This time it took too long. It irks me a little that it took a danged Californian to do that which some faithful son of Texas should have done decades ago... But maybe that is OK, since it helps me to see Californians a little differently. In truth, Frank Hamer and his story belongs to all of us.

If you have read any of the Boss's other fine historical books, you know that he is a dogged, objective researcher. A real history detective. He cuts it straight. This time he reached out of his traditional focus, across the Rio Grande, as he tells, and it made me nervous all this time waiting and worrying, the true story, warts and all. Frankly I did not trust anybody from California to give the legendary, controversial ranger a decent break. Few others ever have. 

But the Boss was fair and thorough, and what's more, debunked a lot of Hamer myths that we Texans have treasured for generations. We need to thank him for that. What we have here is a new, restored, impeccably factual Texas Ranger, and the good news is Frank Hamer stands as tall as ever. And Bonnie and Clyde, Ma and Pa Ferguson, Lyndon Johnson, and a cast of rowdy thousands... not so much. This was the book Ranger Frank Hamer, “...the greatest American lawman of the twentieth century,” deserved.

And now, thanks to the Boss, a man from California, Hamer's amazing story of courage, dutifulness and sacrifice will be told to all the world.

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