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John Coffey Hays is just nineteen when he arrives in the town of Nacogdoches Republic of Texas in 1836. Moments later when a man is killed, none of the witnesses dispute that Jack acted in self-defense. Despite his young age, Jack is a man who commands perhaps just as much fear as respect.

Although Jack is too late to enlist in the fight for Texas Independence, he soon joins the ranging company of Deaf Smith and begins a thirteen-year history of defending Texans from raids by Comanche bands and Mexican bandits. When he is just twenty-three, he is made a captain of the Texas Rangers. As he becomes known as a fearless fighter, Jack leads a group of men who will follow him anywhere and under any circumstances. While Jack’s Rangers scout, defend US supply and communication lines from attacks by Mexican guerrillas, and fight with army units in the Mexican-American War, the men earn a significant reputation for bravery and success. As Jack’s journey leads him to love and eventually marriage he leads his Rangers and transforms Texas history forever.

In this fascinating historical novel, a young Texas Ranger leads his men in fierce battles against Comanche raiders, Mexican bandits, and the Texas Regiment in the Mexican-American War.

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Book Reviews


Texas Ranger History you don’t know

David R. Gross’s dramatic retelling of a historical legend, Defender of the Texas Frontier, captures an era as it follows a young man’s rise to hero status.

Nineteen-year-old John Coffey Hays missed fighting in the battle for Texas’s independence. Full of vim and vigor, Hays joins up with a ranging patrol to defend the Texas border. So begins his storied career, which spans close to two decades. Along the way, Hays leads a ragtag group of men and forges an elite squad known as Rangers. Hays and his Rangers defend the US while skirmishing with both Mexicans and local native tribes. As his exploits become legend, Hays continues to affect change in Texas that ripples outward.

Hays’s story is entwined with the Texas Rangers’s origins. Known as the toughest and most judicious lawmen in history, the Rangers are shown starting out as a rough group, but becoming a power to be reckoned with. With strong attention to historical detail, the narrative shows how Hays learns and evolves while helping his men do likewise.

Clarion Review by JOHN M. MURRAY (July 25, 2019)

John Coffey (“Jack”) Hays was the most famous and charismatic of the Texas Rangers during his tenure in the mid-1800s. In this meticulously researched novel, David R. Gross brings Hays’s story to life as narrated by his best friend, John Caperton and various other friends and enemies of the heroic lawman.

Blue Ink Review (August, 2019)


An engaging fictionalized review of the fight for Texas that should resonate with history buffs.

Readers’ Favorite Reviews (2020)


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