Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986 Page: 35
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my sharpest criticism against this or any
other book that attempts to offer itself as
history is lack of footnotes. It greatly
handicaps anyone relying on the book as
an authoritative source without reading
at length the material the author utilized.
A perfect example would be in the bibliography
which gives an overview of
each of the sources used and speaks of
Fehrenbach's Lone Star in highly complimentary
terms. However, for any who
have read Fehrenbach's description of the
activities of Rip Ford and his Cavalry of
the West in the Rio Grande Valley will
quickly be struck with the fact that
Robertson presents Rip Ford in quite a
different role, in effect, pygmytizing the
heroics of Ford that were so much a part
of Fehrenbach's work. It would seem that
Robertson had access to better information
than Fehrenbach and readers may be
inclined to go with his version of Ford
though they cannot be certain without
comparing all the sources mentioned.
The claim that footnotes are boring is
simply an excuse for historical slothfulness.
It is the lack of footnotes, not an
abundance of them, that sends most readers
in search of the cold compresses.
Also, Robertson presents some rather
fugitive facts himself such as implying
that Taylor rode side saddle for the rest of
his military career after having seen a
man's leg shot off who was astride a horse
during a cannon exchange with the
Mexican army. Also, he overlooks Luis de
la Rosa's major role in the plan of San
Diego and gives only brief mention of
his activities, mainly related to a train
As to the book's actual layout, there are
numerous minor criticisms that could be
made, probably as much towards the
times in which we all find books costing
far too much to publish. My copy of the
book already has pages falling out of it.
There are some pictures stuffed in the
middle which, as far as I can tell, add
very little to the character of the book,
except that the picture of D. B. Chapin is
a classic. It should be on a poster as the
archetypical Rio Grande Valley land promoter.
The map used in the end pages,
from whence came the name Wild Horse
Desert, is never identified. On the inside
leaf opposite the title, there is a map
which is more or less a map of the Rio
Grande Valley. One can only guess that
its purpose is to show the region or maybe
it was to show the railroads or maybe it
was to show the names of towns but, for
whatever its purpose, it is certainly not
clearly stated. It will certainly be helpful,
in all those investigations, for readers to
have access to a sizeable magnifying glass.
This book certainly can't be judged by its
cover which gives the impression that we
are about to get a history of the Texas
Rangers. Only two of the Rangers shown
on the cover are identified, Wyatt Baker
and J. F. Miller, and I could find no further
mention of Miller. He is even left
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 1986, periodical, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/m1/35/?rotate=270: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.