Patrick Dearen has a new book. It’s title is Devils River: Treacherous Twin to the Pecos, 1535-1900, from TCU Press. It examines the history of a notorious river in southwestern Texas: the Devils River.
He starts by describing the Spanish explorers and other settlers from the Americas who encountered the Devils River, then known as Rio San Pedro (Saint Peter’s River), and their difficulties in traversing the region. He relates a multitude of different hardships, ranging from Indian attacks, impassable fords, unpredictable weather, and long routes with little water. The advancement of the railroad into Devils River territory brought its own share of troubles—train robberies became more common, and outlaws often passed through the area on their way to Mexico. Military outposts were built and abandoned at various points along the river, and companies of Texas Rangers patrolled the area in an attempt to keep the peace. Yet despite all their effort, the Devils River and the surrounding regions were a law unto themselves, and it would take hundreds of years and much bloodshed to civilize the area.
Devils River is at heart a scholarly work, but it is also much more. Dearen takes the time to engage readers in the events by introducing the characters involved and showing not only their actions but their words and thoughts as well. His retellings of each occurrence make readers feel as if they are actually present at that exact moment in history. It is a fascinating read, for scholars and non-historians alike.
Patrick Dearen is the author of nine nonfiction books and nine novels and is a recognized authority on the lower Pecos River country. He grew up in Sterling City, Texas, and earned a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. His nonfiction works include Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier, Portraits of the Pecos Frontier, Crossing Rio Pecos, A Cowboy of the Pecos, and Halff of Texas. Through his books The Last of the Old-Time Cowboys and Saddling Up Anyway, Dearen has also preserved the stories of the last generation of cowhands who plied their trade before mechanization. His novels include Perseverance, set along the rails in Depression-era Texas.
More on Patrick Dearen HERE.
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