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Texas Ranger Tales: Stories that Need Telling, by Mike Cox, Republic of Texas Press (imprint of Wordware Publishing, Inc.), Plano, Texas, 1997, $14.95 paperback.

It all began in 1823 when colonist Stephen Austin hired 10 men to “range” the Anglo settlement in Texas for “the common defense.” Like the U.S. Marines, the Texas Rangers have traditionally wanted a few good men, and it appears, in fact as well as in myth, that they’ve gotten them. And through 175 years, these few good men (and, yes, some not so good Rangers, too) have been involved in more than a few good stories. The classic book about the Rangers is Walter Prescott Webb’s The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense, first published in 1935. In 1996 came Frederick Wilkins’ The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers 1823-1845 (reviewed in the August 1997 Wild West). Author Mike Cox has not attempted another Ranger history; he has concentrated on interesting but lesser-known Ranger tales. “Some Texas Ranger stories just keep getting told and retold,” Cox writes in the introduction of this 322-page book. “I wanted to go after fresh meat.” The 27 accounts in his collection include “Fight at the Haunted Lake,” “Corporal Wilson’s Ride,” “Zane Grey and the Texas Rangers,” “The Story of the Silver Star,” “Samuel Walker’s Last Fight,” “Tom Mix: Famous Ranger Who Wasn’t” and “Rx for Keeping the Peace: Laxatives and a .45.” Many of Cox’s true tales take place in the 20th century, but there is enough earlier Ranger action to please readers whose main interest is in the Old West. In the appendix, Cox examines 10 Ranger narratives published between 1847 and 1928.