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Publisher's Summary

“Swanson has done a crucial public service by exposing the barbarous side of the Rangers.” (The New York Times Book Review

A 21st-century reckoning with the legendary Texas Rangers that does justice to their heroic moments while also documenting atrocities, brutality, oppression, and corruption.

The Texas Rangers came to life in 1823, when Texas was still part of Mexico. Nearly 200 years later, the Rangers are still going - one of the most famous of all law-enforcement agencies. In Cult of Glory, Doug J. Swanson has written a sweeping account of the Rangers that chronicles their epic, daring escapades while showing how the white and propertied power structures of Texas used them as enforcers, protectors, and officially sanctioned killers. 

Cult of Glory begins with the Rangers' emergence as conquerors of the wild and violent Texas frontier. They fought the fierce Comanches, chased outlaws, and served in the US Army during the Mexican War. As Texas developed, the Rangers were called upon to catch rustlers, tame oil boomtowns, and patrol the perilous Texas-Mexico border. In the 1930s they began their transformation into a professionally trained police force. 

Countless movies, television shows, and pulp novels have celebrated the Rangers as Wild West supermen. In many cases, they deserve their plaudits. But often the truth has been obliterated. Swanson demonstrates how the Rangers and their supporters have operated a propaganda machine that turned agency disasters and misdeeds into fables of triumph, transformed murderous rampages - including the killing of scores of Mexican civilians - into valorous feats, and elevated scoundrels to sainthood. Cult of Glory sets the record straight. 

Beginning with the Texas Indian wars, Cult of Glory embraces the great, majestic arc of Lone Star history. It tells of border battles, range disputes, gunslingers, massacres, slavery, political intrigue, race riots, labor strife, and the dangerous lure of celebrity. And it reveals how legends of the American West - the real and the false - are truly made. 

©2020 Doug J. Swanson (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Cult of Glory

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Great Book! Great Performance . Viva Tejas!

The narrator is great . Awesome insight into the deep, vast History of Tejas .

6 people found this helpful

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Texas Rangers

A wonderful amalgam of myth, legend, optimism and disappointment The Rangers were an exaggerated version of their times: bigoted inclined to kill rather than control, immune from prosecution and having little or no constraints a story better than the best of the lawless west They ruled and killed with intent Indians, Blacks, outlaws, Mexicans and people who were innocent. Women, children were killed without fear of a trial or fear of punishment Linked to the KKK and on the side of the Confederacy. A very good and interesting read

4 people found this helpful

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Hold on to your hat because THIS is a wild ride!

If Empire of the Summer Moon was a six-shooter, Cult of Glory is a Thompson submachine gun. It packs a punch of jaw-dropping history and all of it was incredibly well-researched in a way only a newspaper man like Swanson would do it. With its pistol-whipping, burning, scalping, shooting, kicking, slapping, beating, hanging, lancing, dragging, eye socket gouging, and other transgressions so horrible, I can't bring myself to type them here, it is not for the squeamish. But it is so engaging, you'll find an absolute inability to quit listening to it.

2 people found this helpful

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Felt Like A Hatchet Job

Struggled to get through this. it felt like a long, biased, and skewed presentation on the history of Texas.

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Exquisite Work!

I am a student of history, especially Texas history and 19th century American history, having read perhaps triple digit works on the subjects. Cult of Glory ranks among the best. I found it to be objectively written and presented. It does not shy away from the sins of the Ranger past, but it does not seem to cast a revisionist or modernistic condemnation of them either. Although, there is no doubt that those among us who tend to judge history through a modern lens will use it as a source for blanket condemnation of the Texas Rangers. Having been a native Texan all my life, and someone who has played a small part in some of her history, even having played an insignificant part in one of the cases mentioned in this work, I have a tendency to view it all with a grain of salt. History is just that. History.

2 people found this helpful

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This has always been Texas

I love the myth of Texas and embrace it. There is nothing wrong inherently with myth making or so I thought. That is how I always envisioned the Rangers. An elite police unit that epitomizes professionalism and the best of what makes Texans so unique. You may have read more than a few reviews that called this a hack job, or a left wing screed. What I would want to ask them is are they afraid of the truth, or are they more scared that the ethos and myth of Texas may be built on a pile of horse shit. To defend the Rangers after reading this is to ignore their culpability in numerous mass murders, genocidal ethnic cleansing, and propping up white supremacy You also will choose to frame the myth and ethos of Texas in a very narrow view, from an Anglo perspective. Should we incorporate the pain that Native American's, Tejanos, slaves and then Freemen felt in Texas? My guess is that they would have very different answers from an Anglo perspective what our history means, and what is a Texan. This is a wonderfully researched and impeccably told story. Mr. Swanson is not out to "get the Rangers", he is a truth teller. I never felt like he was applying 21st century morality or norms to the Rangers behavior. Many of the acts that he depicted can be seen as far outside the norm and beyond reproach when they occurred. He does a wonderful job throughout the story of showing the power of the victor's. The Rangers either dictated their own history, or had many enablers do it for them. What he is doing is critically important to how we understand our past. The is a story that deconstructs a myth that should have never existed, because it didn't. The mystique of the Ranges was built in embellished half truths, exaggerations, and lies and he calls them out for it. There were still men that exhibited great heroism and were selfless in the service of their interests and that of the State of Texas. The Texas Rangers protected and helped prop up a Texas that was a myth to anyone that was not a white, Christian Anglo. This book is for them as much as it is for anyone else. It can finally acknowledge the pain and misery inflicted upon them, and the Rangers should confront that as strongly as Mr. Swanson does.

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Outstanding and Excellent

I knew I was going to like this book, when I heard the interview with the author on NPR’s Fresh Air.

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Not a book about men who tamed the west

Should be called an essay about civil rights and how the rangers trampled on them. Nothing wrong with that. Just feel duped into listening to the authors biased ax grinding obsession with men who had to survive in a brutal environment. Very one sided.

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A more even-handed review of Ranger history

This work includes some of the less heroic actions in the history of the Rangers than Webb's book. It makes the organization more "human" if no less legendary. A reference to a specific incident in the book which I feel is just as applicable to the Rangers story is that their flaws aren't so much a history of the Rangers, as that of America and Texas. Society tends to judge based on current beliefs, customs, and mores - not so much those in place at the time/place of those and the actions being judged. Some of the legends are dispelled. But the Rangers remain no less legendary.

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Very unflattering for the Rangers

Although I enjoyed the overall story given that it was well written and well narrated, it came across as very biased against the Texas Rangers. There are always two sides to every story and the author only presents one side; that it, the Rangers are the bad guys. I'll take this view of history with a grain of salt.