Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger


Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger
Chuck Parsons

(University of North Texas Press, $29.95)

 John R. Hughes is often considered one of the Texas Rangers’ “Four Great Captains,” alongside William Jesse McDonald, James A. Brooks and John H. Rogers. (Chuck Norris, as Walker, Texas Ranger, figures nowhere in this equation.)

Before Hughes became a Ranger in 1887, he tracked down and killed several thieves who had stolen horses from his ranch and and some neighbors’ ranches.

This well-written biography by Western historian Chuck Parsons describes how Hughes intended to be a Texas Ranger for just a few months after he signed up. But he stayed on and eventually served almost 30 years, chasing horse thieves, sheep thieves, fence cutters, train robbers, bank robbers and others.

Hughes also helped provide security for three presidents who visited Texas: William H. Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Porfirio Diaz of Mexico.

The Ranger tried to keep a low profile, but writers hailed him in newspaper and magazine articles, particularly after he retired. And novelist Zane Grey dedicated a novel, The Lone Star Ranger, to Hughes and other Rangers.

Chuck Parsons has written several other books, including The Sutton-Taylor Feud: The Deadliest Blood Feud in Texas.

Si Dunn

Will Rogers: A Political Life

Will Rogers: A Political Life
By Richard D. White Jr.
(Texas Tech University Press, $29.95)

Oklahoma’s Will Rogers was at the peak of his international fame as an entertainer when he and pilot Wiley Post were killed in a 1935 Alaska plane crash.

Yet, as this intriguing political biography shows, Rogers was much more than a popular homespun humorist, radio commentator and media celebrity.  He was also a political commentator with virtually open-door access to the White House and Capitol Hill.

A strong isolationist, Will Rogers wanted America to stay out of foreign wars. Yet, he also was an ambassador without portfolio and sometimes was sent to foreign countries to help repair troubled diplomatic relations or observe and report on military conflicts.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched his famous Sunday night radio “fireside chats” to sell his New Deal to a Depression-ravaged America, Will Rogers’ show aired first, and the entertainer often previewed what the President was about to say.

Richard D. White Jr.’s other books include Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long and Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895.

The author is a professor of public administration at Louisiana State University. 

Si Dunn

iPad 2: The Missing Manual (It’s here!)

iPad 2: The Missing Manual
By J.D. Biersdorfer
(O’Reilly, $24.99 US, $28.99 CAN)
Amazon link:

Each new addition to O’Reilly‘s “The Missing Manual” series has a telling tagllne: “The book that should have been in the box.”

Users of the iPad 2 definitely may wish they had received this book in their Apple box. It is well-organized and well-illustrated and engagingly written by J.D. Biersdorfer, the popular “Gadgetwise” columnist for the New York Times and best-selling author of several previous tech books, including: iPad: The Missing Manual; iPod: The Missing Manual; and The iPod Shuffle Fan Book: Life Is a Playlist.

Along with the iPad 2, Biersdorfer’s new book also covers the original iPad and is structured to help you locate the right buttons, connectors and Home Screen icons once you have an iPad in your hands.

“Odds are,” the author notes wryly, “you had that iPad out of its box about 5 seconds after you got it, running your hands over its smooth edges, admiring its tapered thinness and high-gloss screen.”

But, with little else to guide you, you may not know what to do first to make it work and then set it up correctly. As the O’Reilly book points out, “there’s still no printed guide to using its features” — not in the iPad 2’s box.

Yes, you can boot up your PC, go online and find iPad setup and features information. You can even print out some pages, punch some holes, and stack the paper in a three-ring binder for future reference. But why bother? This book is an excellent, convenient and affordable guide to everything you need to know to become adept at using and enjoying your iPad 2.

Early on, it covers mastering iTunes, “your iPad’s best friend. You can do just about everything with your digital media here….”

The book also shows you how to find, buy, download, use, troubleshoot and uninstall apps.

Some of the other “important stuff” it covers includes:

1. Building your media library, by filling your iPad with music, ebooks, movies, photos, TV shows and other materials.

2. Using the iPad 2’s new still camera, video camera and Photo Booth app to create your own media projects.

3. Getting online and surfing via wi-fi or wi-fi + 3G.

4. Making video calls using the iPad 2’s video cameras and FaceTime app.

5.  Sending and receiving email messages using any of your email accounts.

6. Discovering iPad tricks and workarounds for problems or limitations.

All in all, this is a fine, comforting and informative guide for new iPad users. Along with smooth writing, step-by-step procedures  and logical structure, it also has a good index and numerous illustrations and screen shots.

Those who have owned the popular tablets for a while likely can also find some new tricks and helpful information in O’Reilly’s iPad 2: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions. O’Reilly also offers it via Safari Books Online

Si Dunn