Legend says that one Ranger is all it takes to put down lawlessness and restore the peace: one riot, one Ranger. In this adventure-filled memoir, Joaquin Jackson recalls what it was like to be the Ranger who responded when riots threatened, violence erupted, and criminals needed to be brought to justice across a wide swath of the Texas-Mexico border from 1966 to 1993.
©2005 H. Joaquin Jackson and David Marion Wilkinson; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Joaquin Jackson's frank and colorful account of his long career as a modern-day Texas Ranger thrills like an action novel....I could hardly put the book down....The writing is superb." (Elmer Kelton, award-winning author of The Good Old Boys)
This is a memoir of H. Joaquin Jackson, Texas Ranger. It is a collection of stories and recollections about his career as a Ranger. The book is entertaining, humorous, exciting, and heartbreaking Texana. It traces a career spanning several decades of Texas/Mexican conflict, changing mores and political realities and much technological advances in law enforcement. It would be interesting to hear what Ranger Jackson would have said in his own words, but his co-author, David Wilkinson, makes the prose sing. Perhaps the reader catches most clearly Ranger Jackson’s true voice in the chapter on his son who is serving a life sentence in prison. This is a man-book. The reading of Rex Linn is superb.
I am a native South Texan, so part of my enjoyment for this book was the local flavor. With that disclaimer out of the way, I am going to ask my wife (a native New Yorker) to read this book. Then, I know, she will finally understand this culture. I have never come across a piece of prose that so poignantly describes what it means to be connected to the places and people of the Texas borderlands. The authors do an amazing job of capturing the Texas mystique. In the case of South Texas, what they capture of the deep ethnic identify shared by that special mixture of people from Mexican and European roots. The story has an ethos both deep and disturbingly dark. The world of Joaquin Jackson during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s was a mean place filled with mean and sometimes sadistic people. It was a world where One Ranger really could make a difference. A riveting read. I hope he shares more of these classic tales in the future.
The pleasant Spanish guitar tune that played briefly at the opening of the Audiobook hinted to me that I was about to be transported to one of my favorite places on the entire earth: the rugged Trans-Pecos and southward along the Mexican border with Texas, where Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson spent his career. To some, it is beautiful countryside and a place where survival doesn’t come easy. Things that do survive and thrive here have tough skin, thorns, stingers, fangs, the innate focus on preserving precious water, the ability to hide themselves in plain sight, and always a knowledge of where the next water is. This land draws visitors who define beauty in terms of endless sky, stark and forbidding mountain vistas, and solitude. Distances and emptiness can be daunting to the unprepared and fatal to the careless, and one enjoys its treasures at their own risk. One particular type of risk and one particular kind of visitor has long been the business of the Texas Ranger.
In this part of Texas, some do what they think they can do and still walk away. It is a long way between beacons of justice. As the author says, dead people have voted often and alphabetically here. Mexicans are literally dying to cross this difficult countryside and smuggle cocaine into the pipeline feeding the habits of the “elite” across our country. It is a dicey living, as long as one lives. Illicit money flows and corrupts those it touches. Ranger Jackson tells the story of his corrupt friend and fellow lawman, Rick Thompson, sheriff of Presidio County and it makes one wonder how law enforcement holds up under the proposition of money for those in the club and the continuous threat of nastiness for those who aren’t. Sheriff Thompson at some point joined the club. At trial, he was made an example for others who would defile the badge and he will never see the outside of prison. There undoubtedly was more to this sobering story than was told. For sure, if one thinks about it, being a peace officer in this part of the country is a challenging proposition.
For me, “One Ranger” was many things: high tension, informative, emotional, and very frequently humorous. And it also was one that I did not want to see end. It led me back to a time when trained professionals were clothed with authority with which they pursued results benefitting decent mankind free of thousands of regulations prescribing all manner of minutiae and of lawyers with their proctoscopes. If a little liberty was taken, that was the result of the inability of regulations to foresee all contingencies and was why trained and experienced professionals were assigned the tasks of tending to the peoples’ business as God and decent raising gave them the light to do so. That sort of latitude breeds people capable of making good decisions, and it breeds careful people loathe to lose the authority to do the job that is their responsibility. It bred, among others, the late generation of Texas Rangers. As government and law enforcement devolve apace into mediocrity, a million trees are felled to provide the paper to print limitations on authority in every conceivable situation, and uninspired and hamstrung officers enforce a new generation of laws that have less and less to do with protecting the innocent, read this book and hang out for a spell in a pleasant time when it wasn’t that way.
I remembered the harrowing tragedy in Colorado Canyon along the Rio Grande, described in detail by the author, when an adventuring couple and their guide were ambushed by two Mexicans and one American and tormented with gunfire as they rafted helplessly down the sheer-walled Canyon with no hiding places. I remembered the story; I remembered the guide’s name from around 30 years ago; I remembered the male adventurer, after begging for the lives of the three, finally being delivered by a .44 magnum round and the other two being wounded and the woman being saved by playing dead, but I didn’t know or remember how the Texas Rangers played appropriately loosely with the national borders and with the “cooperation” of local Mexican officials, literally tracked all three murderers to their home: a place called El Mulato, a Mexican village more or less established many years ago by deserting U. S. “Buffalo Soldiers”. As a result, all three were brought to justice. That would be quite impossible in 2012, but Joaquin Jackson and other Rangers made it look easy by simply doing what professional lawmen once did when guided by their responsibility for achieving results on behalf of those who trusted them to do just that.
I remembered faintly, if at all, the other episodes related by Ranger Jackson, but all were entertaining while underscoring the professionalism and dedication to duty felt by the few wearing the badge cut from the “cinco peso”.
Ranger Jackson wove into his “Memoir” the story of his own son, now in prison. “A slow, cold rain”, he called the time passing since that awful experience that any parent would break into a cold sweat just thinking about. Well done. I cannot imagine the pain, nor can I understand the author’s willingness to spread the family’s grief before the readers, or in my case, listener. But it fit somehow. I empathized with the whole family, and I wondered yet again why bad things happen to good people. I understand that both of the Jacksons’ sons and Mrs. Jackson speak in the sequel book, which I am eager to read.
Rex Linn does a good job reading. I felt that since I had paid extra to have him read the book to me, he could have done a proper noun search and taken a couple of hours learning the correct pronunciation of the names of certain people, places, and things in the book. But no matter. He was always close enough that I knew what and where he was talking about, and he read it with great clarity and appropriately in the tone and with the authority of a Ranger. That was plenty good enough.
One hell of a book that leaves you wanting to hear more of his stories; being from Texas I have visited many of the areas he mentions in his book. I found myself engulfed with his adventures. Last spring we drove out to west Texas to enjoy the flowing colors of the rugged area. Not knowing the content of this new book beforehand, I downloaded the book. Not only did I enjoy listing to the adventures of Ranger Jackson, but our entire group wanted to hear him tell his true life stories as we drove back to Houston. The stories are true and the ending is sad. I found myself wanting to hear more of the life and times of Ranger Jackson. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it is like to be a Texas Ranger.
Outstanding book. The story and narration are both excellent. If you are from Texas or just have an interest in law enforcement across the years, this one will keep your interest. I highly recommend it!
Mr. Jackson spent about 30 years as a Texas Ranger from the 60's to the 90's. He is charming, witty, cantankerous and stubborn, but he tells a good story. I eagerly await the sequel.
He starts out with his own history; and then weaves in the history of the Texas Rangers, and the stories of those he knew and wanted to know. He includes the story of the only Texas Ranger to have ever been awarded two medals of valor. And he goes back to talk to one of the criminals whom he captured after a jail break by tracking him through Texas on horseback. You can tell he really enjoyed catching up with this guy.
There were a few glitches in the narration -- I didn't care. I just wanted to hear the next story.
I loved this book. The narration was excellent. Only a Texan would complain about the narrators accent. Who cares. Great Story, great presentation. I highly recommend this to all those interested in law enforcement. It is a whole different world along the border.
It seems that most of this book is filler and not the type of content I expected. The narrator does a poor job and mispronounces many words. The book does have some very interesting stories and at times pulls you in. Those passages are too few and spread out. This is the first book I ever bought that I wished I had opted for the abridged version instead.
As a Texas Peace Officer, I know a lot of what Jackson feels in many ways. He is frank and candid, while still being able to see the humor you must find in the constantly changing episodes, as well as the drama and sheer disgust with crime. Only a Ranger can see as much as he has, yet every peace officer worth their salt, struggles with the injustice that is always out there at work. Great book!
Vivid details and a great sense of the essence of Texas Ranger tradition. Worth the read.
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