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Highlight Review: A Glance at Essential Texana

Chasing Thugs

Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds: Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon
by Kemp Dixon

College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2015
240 pp. $29.95 cloth

A Glance at Essential Texana

The world of the twentieth century Texas Rangers has only been lightly studied, so Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds offers a tantalizing glimpse into this relatively untapped period. This account of Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon covers a period of significant evolution for the Rangers. Under the thirty-year reign of Homer Garrison, the Texas Rangers completed their transformation from frontier lawmen into modern criminal investigators. While not the most contested period in the Texas Rangers’ nearly two hundred years history, it was not without controversy. However, the narrow focus of this work precludes events or perspectives outside those directly involving Dixon.

   Written by the subject’s son, Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds is essentially a posthumous memoir compiled from diaries dating between 1938 and 1950. Culled and combined with interviews and some additional primary and secondary sources, Chasing Thugs, Nazis and Reds offers insight into the routine activities and perspective of a mid-twentieth century Texas Ranger. Of particular interest to scholars of this period will be Dixon’s handling of Cold War era investigations of alleged Communists, homosexuals, and other perceived “radicals” during that time. Dixon covered a variety of cases such as high-profile murders, gambling, white-slavery, and a 1938 scandal at the Texas General Land Office. Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds is a worthwhile source for scholars interested in a variety of topics from the mid-twentieth century.