A twenty-first-century reckoning with the legendary Texas Rangers that does justice to their heroic moments while also documenting atrocities, brutality, and corruption
The Texas Rangers rode into existence in 1823, when Texas was still part of Mexico, and continue today as one of the most famous of all law enforcement agencies. In Cult of Glory, Doug J. Swanson offers a sweeping account of the Rangers that chronicles both their epic, daring escapades and how the white and propertied power structures of Texas have used them as enforcers and protectors.
Fleshing out key episodes and individuals in Texas Ranger history, Swanson begins by covering their birth and emergence as conquerors of the wild and violent Texas frontier, as they skirmished with Apaches and Comanches and assisted the U.S. Army in the Mexican War. Beginning around 1870, the Rangers transformed themselves from a frontier battalion into a state police force. Although the Rangers found themselves rocked by a series of corruption scandals in the 1930s, their reputation soared thanks to pulp novelists, movies, and the radio series and television show "The Lone Ranger."
As the Rangers have entered the contemporary era, they have attempted to present themselves as a modern crime-fighting force, dealing with flashpoints like school integration, farmworkers' strikes, and patrol of the U.S. Mexico border. But they have been stymied by their hidebound ways and the glorification of their past. As Swanson shows, Rangers and their supporters have for decades used propaganda, deception, and outright falsehoods to depict scandalous, oppressive, and illegal Ranger behavior as heroic triumphs. Cult of Glory sets the record straight for the first time.
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“Rigorously chronicles two centuries of Ranger misadventures and atrocities, as well as commendable operations undertaken by the Rangers in recent decades…[and] strives to be as panoramic as possible, telling a big story on a big canvas.”