In 1839, José Policarpo Rodriguez came north with his father from Zaragosa, Mexico, to the Republic of Texas. Poli was ten years old when he arrived in Texas, and he and his father settled in the Hill Country near San Antonio. Poli grew up with Comanches, surveyed territory for the Republic of Texas and the United States Army, fought against warring Indians, and mapped settlements for nineteenth-century German settlers in Texas. He was the first non-Indian to discover the Big Bend Country and Cascades Caverns, and during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, he was Captain of the San Antonio Home Guard. Caught between the three main elements that made up early Texas--Mexicans, Indians, and Anglos--he struggled to decide where his true loyalties lay, and his decisions showed a kind of courage that was rare in those days. . .and is still rare today.
Jay Neugeboren is the author of six highly praised novels, including Big Man, Listen Ruben Fontanez, and Before My Life Began. Stories from his prize-winning collection Corky's Brother have appeared in numerous anthologies and high school texts. Other short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Sport, The Atlantic, and other magazines, as well as Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Award Prize Stories. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundations and is Professor and Writer in Residence at the University of Massachusetts.
Tom Leamon has illustrated many books for young people, including Robert McClung's Grizzly Adams.