On Memorial Day, the History Channel is launching Texas Rising, a new dramatic series about the Texas Rangers and the rise of the Lone Star republic. Starring Bill Paxton and directed by Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields), the ten-part series will offer insight into the Texas psyche for modern audiences, especially those viewers who are puzzled by contemporary protests about a potential "invasion" of Texas by the United States military.
In connection with the series, noted historian Stephen L. Moore has just published Texas Rising: The Epic True Story of the Lone Star Republic and the Rise of the Texas Rangers, 1836-1846. Moore, who's a descendent of Ranger Captain William T. Sadler, has condensed a lot of his previous research into a readable and colorful version of the Ranger story.
As the History Channel has moved away from its original programming mission into "historical" shows like American Pickers and Ice Road Truckers, the network has made it tough on real history buffs. Texas Rising the series may be a bit wooden and slow for some viewers, but Texas Rising the book reads like a script for the documentary series you might wish they'd produced instead. It's engaging and fast-moving, exactly the kind of entertainingly-written popular history book that deserves a wide audience. Self-styled Ranger experts might complain that it's just an overview of a complicated subject, but this is a book designed to introduce a critical chapter in Texas history to a new audience and it more than excels at that mission.
Check out the show on Monday (or check out the trailer above). If you're interested at all in the Rangers, Moore's book is worth a read.