Michael D. Pierce has produced a credible and nicely written interpretation of Ranald Mackenzie's life. By focusing on the frontier years and placing this officer's experiences within the broader context of military events, he provides the reader a good sense of time and place. Pierce also successfully utilizes the standard source materials and moves well beyond Robert G. Carter's somewhat unreliable On the Border with Mackenzie (1935). Unfortunately, the personal dimensions of Mackenzie's thoughts and deeds will never be fully known because he was an intensely private man who left little documentation about himself. Even his official reports tend to be cryptic and matter-of-fact, rather than literary and reflective. Persons interested in frontier military life and the Indian wars will be rewarded by this book, and they should likewise consult a second new work for comparison-Charles M. Robinson's Bad Hand: A Biography of Ranald S. Mackenzie (1993).
Tate, Michael L., "Review of The Most Promising Young Officer: A Life of Ranald Slidell Mackenzie By Michael D. Pierce" (1995). History Faculty Publications. 5.