Book Review: The Man Who Rode Midnight


Times change too fast for some folks to keep up, no matter how hard they try. Then there are folks who flat out refuse to accept change because it’s not always favorable.

The Man Who Rode Midnight is set in the early 80’s when the cattle market was depressed, and the town of Big River has fallen on hard times. The community has plans to dam the river, flood the valley and reinvent itself as a recreational tourist haven. While the townsfolk are eager to abandon their rural and agricultural heritage, there is one ranch owner who opposes them.

Wes Hendrix, whose ranch would disappear under the proposed lake, is a genuine old-time cowboy. He is a man who works his own cattle, strings his own fences and loves the land he spent 50 years building. Recently widowed, he accepts a summer visit from his only grandson and begins to turn the city slicker he calls ‘Tater’ into a capable ranch hand. Jim Ed Hendrix, aka Tater, is a failed college boy from Dallas, sent by his father to convince Wes to sell the ranch and retire.

The irresistible force of change and adaptation to modern realities rams headlong into the immovable object that is Wes Hendrix. Wes and a cast of loyal friends, all grounded in a common history, stand against what they see as a rape of the land.

Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) won seven Spur Awards and The Man Who Rode Midnight is one of the reasons he can be considered one of Texas’ greatest storytellers.


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