Note: This book review is published in the West Texas Historical Review, Vol 94, 2018, pp. 142-143
Death On The Lonely Llano Estacado is more than just a book about one man’s murder. Author, Bill Neal wove a complicated story of the murder of Jim Jarrott around other murders that seemed to tie all to one man, Jim Miller in some way. How many people were murdered in this book? A lot. Including Pat Garrett. Neal was able to find out way more to the murder of Jarrott than previously known to other historians or even historical accounts.
This book provides powerful glimpses through the retelling of all these murders including the law and court systems of that time period. What was most surprising was the history of the outright villains existing in Texas during the late 19th century.
You’re not just getting one single bit of chronicled information on one murder, but a whole lot of historical material packed into this small book. Bill reveals to the readers the subtle glimpses of how the Llano Estacado looked in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thanks to pioneer woman, Mary Blankenship whose own published book that Bill referenced, readers get a true sense of the loneliness of the Llano Estacado before as it was beginning to be settled. The Llano Estacado was literally just a vast plain of tall grasses.
There are some SPAG errors in the book, as well as some formatting issues but they did not detract from the story being told. The map graphics could’ve been enlarged at a higher resolution more for easier reading and reference points.
Neal’s book gives you pause that just because the Llano Estacado was a sea of grass there were often many dangers hiding amongst the green leaves and out in the open – sadly some of them were murderers.
Thank you West Texas Historical Association for the complimentary book and the opportunity to review this book.
Death On The Lonely Llano Estacado. The Assassination of J.W. Jarrott, a Forgotten Hero. By Bill Neal (University of North Texas Press, 2017. Pp. vii – 210. Prologue, index, epilogue, illustrations, photos. $24.95 Hardback.)