“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.
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.
SCIBA Book Award Winner
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018.
Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt
“A brilliant genre-buster.... Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.” —Stephen King
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle's dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.
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.