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About John Boessenecker
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The New York Times bestseller!
“Frank Hamer, last of the old breed of Texas Rangers, has not fared well in history or popular culture. John Boessenecker now restores this incredible Ranger to his proper place alongside such fabled lawmen as Wyatt Earp and Eliot Ness. Here is a grand adventure story, told with grace and authority by a master historian of American law enforcement. Frank Hamer can rest easy as readers will finally learn the truth behind his amazing career, spanning the end of the Wild West through the bloody days of the gangsters.”
--Paul Andrew Hutton, author of The Apache Wars
To most Americans, Frank Hamer is known only as the “villain” of the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. Now, in Texas Ranger, historian John Boessenecker sets out to restore Hamer’s good name and prove that he was, in fact, a classic American hero.
From the horseback days of the Old West through the gangster days of the 1930s, Hamer stood on the front lines of some of the most important and exciting periods in American history. He participated in the Bandit War of 1915, survived the climactic gunfight in the last blood feud of the Old West, battled the Mexican Revolution’s spillover across the border, protected African Americans from lynch mobs and the Ku Klux Klan, and ran down gangsters, bootleggers, and Communists. When at last his career came to an end, it was only when he ran up against another legendary Texan: Lyndon B. Johnson.
Written by one of the most acclaimed historians of the Old West, Texas Ranger is the first biography to tell the full story of this near-mythic lawman.
Wyatt Earp is regarded as the most famous lawman of the Old West, best known for his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. But the story of his two-year war with a band of outlaws known as the Cowboys has never been told in full.
The Cowboys were the largest outlaw gang in the history of the American West. After battles with the law in Texas and New Mexico, they shifted their operations to Arizona. There, led by Curly Bill Brocius, they ruled the border, robbing, rustling, smuggling and killing with impunity until they made the fatal mistake of tangling with the Earp brothers.
Drawing on groundbreaking research into territorial and federal government records, John Boessenecker’s Ride the Devil’s Herd reveals a time and place in which homicide rates were fifty times higher than those today. The story still bears surprising relevance for contemporary America, involving hot-button issues such as gang violence, border security, unlawful immigration, the dangers of political propagandists parading as journalists, and the prosecution of police officers for carrying out their official duties. Wyatt Earp saw it all in Tombstone.
The true stories of the Wild West heroes who guarded the iconic Wells Fargo stagecoaches and trains, battling colorful thieves, vicious highwaymen, and robbers armed with explosives.
The phrase "riding shotgun" was no teenage game to the men who guarded stagecoaches and trains the Western frontier. Armed with sawed-off, double-barreled shotguns and an occasional revolver, these express messengers guarded valuable cargo through lawless terrain. They were tough, fighting men who risked their lives every time they climbed into the front boot of a Concord coach.
Boessenecker introduces soon-to-be iconic personalities like "Chips" Hodgkins, an express rider known for his white mule and his ability to outrace his competitors, and Henry Johnson, the first Wells Fargo detective. Their lives weren't just one shootout after another—their encounters with desperadoes were won just as often with quick wits and memorized-by-heart knowledge of the land.
The highway robbers also get their due. It wouldn't be a book about the Wild West without Black Bart, the most infamous stagecoach robber of all time, and Butch Cassidy's gang, America's most legendary train robbers.
Through the Gold Rush and the early days of delivery with horses and saddlebags, to the heyday of stagecoaches and huge shipments of gold, and finally the rise of the railroad and the robbers who concocted unheard-of schemes to loot trains, Wells Fargo always had courageous men to protect its treasure. Their unforgettable bravery and ingenuity make this book a thrilling read.
As told by veteran western historian John Boessenecker, this story is more than just a western shoot-’em-up, and it reveals Paul to be far more than a blood-and-thunder gunfighter. Beginning with Paul’s boyhood adventures as a whaler in the South Pacific, the author traces his journey to Gold Rush California, where he served respectively as constable, deputy sheriff, and sheriff in Calaveras County, and as Wells Fargo shotgun messenger and detective. Then, in the turbulent 1880s, Paul became sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, and a railroad detective for the Southern Pacific. In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison appointed him U.S. marshal of Arizona Territory.
Transcending local history, Paul’s story provides an inside look into the rough-and-tumble world of frontier politics, electoral corruption, Mexican-U.S. relations, border security, vigilantism, and western justice. Moreover, issues that were important in Paul’s career—illegal immigration, smuggling on the Mexican border, youth gangs, racial discrimination, ethnic violence, and police-minority relations—are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime.
Tiburcio Vasquez is, next to Joaquin Murrieta, America's most infamous Hispanic bandit. After he was hanged as a murderer in 1875, the Chicago Tribune called him "the most noted desperado of modern times." Yet questions about him still linger. Why did he become a bandido? Why did so many Hispanics protect him and his band? Was he a common thief and heartless killer who got what he deserved, or was he a Mexican American Robin Hood who suffered at the hands of a racist government? In this engrossing biography, John Boessenecker provides definitive answers.
Bandido pulls back the curtain on a life story shrouded in myth — a myth created by Vasquez himself and abetted by writers who saw a tale ripe for embellishment. Boessenecker traces his subject's life from his childhood in the seaside adobe village of Monterey, to his years as a young outlaw engaged in horse rustling and robbery. Two terms in San Quentin failed to tame Vasquez, and he instigated four bloody prison breaks that left twenty convicts dead. After his final release from prison, he led bandit raids throughout Central and Southern California. His dalliances with women were legion, and the last one led to his capture in the Hollywood Hills and his death on the gallows at the age of thirty-nine.
From dusty court records, forgotten memoirs, and moldering newspaper archives, Boessenecker draws a story of violence, banditry, and retribution on the early California frontier that is as accurate as it is colorful. Enhanced by numerous photographs — many published here for the first time — Bandido also addresses important issues of racism and social justice that remain relevant to this day.