(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

Summary:
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.

Surprises:
~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.

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

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