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2??8Book Reviews451 was likely a descendant ofan eleventh-century armor bearer to a Scottish king. That ancestor's bravery and quick thinking on the batdefield garnered him die nickname of "Strong Arm" or "Armstrong," a family trait not lost onJohn B. Armstrong. As Siward the Armstrong, who rescued his temporarily felled king in Scotland in those ancient times, rose in prominence to become Earl of Northumberland, so tooJohn B. Armstrong rose among die highest echelon ofTexas society. He did so with humility diat is rarely characteristic of such men. Parsons's study of Armstrong's relatively short career as a Texas Ranger, 1875-1878, is filled with exploits of hair-raising adventure, each one centered on his impending demise at the hands ofscheming catde rusders, vengeful Indians, and otherviolent characters. One occasion forwhich Armstrong is most remembered is his capture of one ofTexas's leading men oudaws,John Wesley Hardin, in 1877. For fans of tales of cowboys, Indians, oudaws, and lawmen of the Old West, JohnB. Armstrong: Texas RangerandPioneerRanchman does not disappoint. Chapters with tides such as "Genesis of a Fighting Man," "Blood on the Palo Alto Prairie," and "Facing the Man Killer," promise and deliver action, trickery, and hot lead with the turn ofeach page. Where the book goes beyond expectations, in tins reviewer's opinion, is its treatment ofArmstrong the former Ranger as he transitions to become a successful family man, rancher, businessman, and civic leader. In later chapters of John B. ArmstrongParsons dutifully, yet with a sense of the familial, shows the Texas scion to be a man not satisfied with having his career in law enforcement as his only legacy, impressive as it was. Parsons writes that Armstrong was entrenched in the fabric that was the new Texas. He realized its potential as his own. This is where Parsons has gone beyond the biographical norm. All too many accounts ofhistorical figures whose reputations rest on tiieir services as lawmen, honorable as those were, provide the reader character analyses diat leave the subject handcuffed to a rather one-dimensional representation. Parsons gives the readerJohn B. Armstrong, the Texas Ranger. But it is in the remaining chapters diat the reader is introduced to the multi-faceted man many of his descendants undoubtedly knew. In die chapters "Pioneer Ranchman," and "Rancher Among the Rails," is found die John B. Armstrong that Parsons wishes the reader to know and understand. For fans of the traditional Old West shoot-'em-up, and those interested in knowing what became of the men who oudived their violent pasts, Parsons brings the two together widi this book.John B. Armstrong: Texas Ranger and Pioneer Ranchman belongs not only in die Texas history section oflibraries, but it probably could hold its place in the Humanities section as well. Katy, TexasDan Anderson CaptainJ. A. Brooks, Texas Ranger. By Paul N. Spellman. (Denton: University ofNordi Texas Press, 2007. Pp. 288. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 157441 -227-2. $24.g5, cloth.) In the first book-lengdi treatment ofthis notable figure in Ranger history, Paul Spellman (professor ofTexas and American History atWhartonJunior College, Old Three Hundred descendant, and biographer of Capt.John H. Rogers) produces a 452Southwestern Historical QuarterlyApril well-rounded survey of the life and times ofJames Abijah Brooks, one of the "Four Great Captains." In examining Brooks's meteoric rise to Texas Ranger captain and his feats—both lauded and controversial—along the way, the author provides an in-depdi view of his professional triumphs and personal foibles. Born into affluence on November 20, 1855, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, Captain Brooks's idyllic childhood was shattered when the Civil War arrived on his doorstep and took his fadier's life. The Brooks family was cast into poverty with the loss of its patriarch at a time in American history when daily life was harsh and unforgiving for even the wealthy. Despite coming of age in the hardship and repression of Reconstruction, Brooks received a reasonable amount of classroom education in his youth. He spent even more time honing his skills as an outdoorsman in the mountains of Kentucky. It should come as no surprise that a southern teenager growing up in this tumultuous environment...


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