(Review) Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man who Killed Bonnie and Clyde by John Boessenecker

Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Dunne Books. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. Texas History. Texas Ranger History. True Crime.
Pages: 525.
Source: eBook public library.
Audience: Readers of Texas history.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

Frank Hamer 1884-1955

Frank Hamer (pronounced Haymer), had a unique blend of personality, character, and physique that created a great lawman.
He grew up in the Hill Country area of Texas.
He learned to live off the land, knowledgeable about birds and animals, strong firearm ability, ranch hand experience, an athletic man.

He enlisted in the Texas Rangers for the first time in 1906. He was 22 years old.

He had other law enforcement jobs besides Texas Rangers:
He was the lone marshal of Navasota, Texas.
He was a special officer in Houston, Texas.
A federal agent enforcing Prohibition.
And a security guard for shipping and trucking interests.

Hamer was a Texas Ranger more than once. During the time of the Bonnie and Clyde’s hunt and killing, Hamer was not working in law enforcement. He was hired by the Texas Highway Patrol for the specific job of finding and stopping Bonnie and Clyde.

My Thoughts:
The 2019 film, The Highwaymen is about Frank Hamer and Maney Gault’s hunt for Bonnie and Clyde. I recommend this film if you have not seen it. It’s currently playing on Netflix. But, consider this film to be a Frank Hamer, basic class 101 of the true historical person.
If you decide to visit Waco, Texas to see Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Market, swing by the Texas Ranger Museum. The museum is easy to find. It’s on the north bound side of I-35 near the Brazos River. I don’t know what the hours are because of COVID, but it is an easy to access, park, and walk through museum. I highly recommend the place for history buffs.

The first thing I want to mention is this book is not just Frank Hamer’s hunt and killing of Bonnie and Clyde. This part of the story is in the later part of the book. This story is about Frank Hamer’s life. This story is about Texas history during the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. I’ve read a few reviewers didn’t like reading about his whole life, but only wanted to read about Bonnie and Clyde.

What I love about this book:
~A strong account of Texas history in the last of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.
~Detailed research of Frank Hamer, law enforcement, racial injustice, Texas ranching, the people groups in Texas, Texas politics, lynching history, Jim Crow laws, Mexican Border War, and the Democratic National Convention in Houston-1928.
~Information about Bonnie and Clyde that is accurate, not speculation or legend.
~The personal life of Frank Hamer.

~The Sherman Texas Riot in 1930. I’d not heard about this horrible history.
~The lynching history of blacks in 1920s Texas.
~I didn’t know the KKK also abducted and abused white citizens. If a white man was an adulterer he was subject to abduction, flogging, or tar and feather.
~Rape was a capital offense until 1972. An interesting article about this: Timeline.
~A brief history of Miriam A. Ferguson (Ma Ferguson).

Final Thoughts:
~The Epic Life of Frank Hamer is told with honesty about a historical figure who was not perfect; yet, he was humble and had great courage.
~The book is detailed and graphic. This is not a story about a tame Texas.
~There is tension and conflict both with Hamer and the environment.
~I feel the title aptly defines the story. Frank Hamer had an epic life.


(Review) News Of The World by Paulette Jiles


Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. October 4, 2016.
Genre: Historical fiction, western, Texas history.
Pages: 209.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Paulette Jiles website

News Of The World is a 2016 National Book Award finalist


New of the World is a phenomenal story. Don’t be put off by its western or Texas setting. Consider this book on your next visit to the bookstore or library!

The year is 1870. The Civil War ended just 5 years before. Texas is suffering under the weight of the war and political climate.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, age 71, is a traveling newspaper reader. He travels to various towns in north Texas reading newspapers. The readings are held in a town hall type meeting. People pay a dime to hear him tell stories of “polar exploration and scientific experiments. Captain knows what kind of reading material to read at the beginning of the event, and what to read to make the people bored and leave. In Wichita Falls, he is asked to take a young girl, Johanna, back to her nearest kin in central Texas. The girl is 10. She spent the past 4 years with the Kiowa people. Her parents and sister were killed. She was abducted and taken in by the tribe to become one of their own. She assimilated as a Kiowa, and does not remember the English language and culture. Captain has already lived a lifetime of wars, adventure, marriage, and family. He enjoys his current life. It is for the most part predictable.

Favorite quotes:

He always recalled those two years with a kind of wonder. As when one is granted the life and the task for which one was meant. No matter how odd, no matter how out of the ordinary. When it came to an end he was not surprised. It was too good, too perfect to last. Page 24.

The Rangers smoked and waited in silence in the shadow of their hats. Their beards were silky because they were young but when you looked at their faces it seemed they were artificially aged in some way. Page 29.

Her faultless silence made her seem strangely not present. Page 33.

My  Thoughts:

What I loved about News OF The World:

1. News Of The World is my kind of story. It is the kind of story to read aloud. It is the kind of story to curl up in my favorite chair with a cozy blanket. It is the kind of story I can’t wait to tell my best reader friends.
2. I loved reading this story aloud. The rhythm of the words and the rich expressions brought a nostalgia to me. I remembered those childhood stories where I was entranced by the descriptive language and larger than life characters.
3. The story creates just the right amount of tension to keep reading.
4. Jiles captures both Captain and Johanna perfectly. While reading the story I pictured both of them so clearly I swear they lived and breathed.
5. The unfolding relationship between Johanna and Captain. Captain has the ability to be firm and yet tender. He seems to understand her unusual ways. He has patience with humor. Both accept each other. If anything, he wants what is best for her, he wants to protect her, and he wants to make sure her future is secure.
6. I loved the dry wit from the characters. Some of the wit is so dry I had to pause and think if maybe they really weren’t trying to be funny.
7. I enjoyed reading the secondary stories. Stories of other people who’d been captured by Indians and later had to assimilate back with current culture standards. Stories of how people responded and treated Johanna, her different ways that seem odd and uncouth. I enjoyed reading about the people who lived in Texas during this era. Whether it was freed black men, young pioneer families, simple town folk, or a widow with a heart of gold.
8. It is rare for me to tear up while reading a story. The last few pages I had eyes filled with tears.