Book review: Quanah Parker’s Hereford Bull

Quanah Parker’s Hereford Bull is a work of fiction in the western, alternative-history and action sub-genres and was penned by professor and film and television author Alan Nafzger. Written as his first western novel, this adventure sees our titular Hereford bull being stolen from the Comanche Indian Reservation and lead across the border into Texas by corrupt Texas Rangers. In real life history, Quanah Parker had to just lump it as he couldn’t by law enter Texas. However, the novel takes an unusual premise for a western as friends Charles Goodnight and Randell Mackenzie accompany the chief in an adventure to retrieve the bull. With the two western legends along for the ride and as security, conflicts soon arise in Texas, and that’s before they discover they’ve been followed off the reservation by a group of Comanche boys looking for one last buffalo hunt. Given the animosity Texans had for Comanches and especially natives off the reservation, the entire adventure puts them all in deep danger.

Author Alan Nafzger is by trade a political scientist and not necessarily concerned with a true and accurate history. Quanah Parker did have a bull stolen into Texas; however, the thieves were never discovered. And Quanah Parker did develop personal and professional friendships with Charles Goodnight and Randell Mackenzie, but it was not at the same time, but it is an alternative history novel. What if?

Nafzger has crafted a thrilling and curious novel that has layers of action, adventure, suspense, and mystery woven in. I loved the fact that the story took us away from typical tales of revenge and bad guys but still kept plenty of realistic dangers for the novel’s diverse cast to encounter as the story played out. The self-interest of a cavalry commander, a cattle rancher and an Indian chief all merge and diverge and merge again.

The commitment to character development was really excellent and well researched, making me interested in the historical characters. I like Mackenzie and Goodnight’s defiant attitude and Quanah Parker’s laid back silent type, which only adds to the realism and atmosphere of the piece as a whole. The dialogue was also a standout feature, which rings true to classic westerns and characterizes the different people that we meet really well. It also moved the conflicts along between different characters, highlighting attitudes of the time. Overall, I would definitely recommend Quanah Parker’s Hereford Bull as a highly original and enjoyable western novel.

Phillip Attocknie (

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