I must choose my books more carefully as I do not want to make a habit of reviewing Texas books especially when they are too good to make fun of. First it was my review Texas Star Dark Tonight of Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise Of America’s Prison Empire. Now it is S. C. Gwynne, Empire Of The Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.
When Texans drop their watered-down textbooks and tell their history like it is, they don’t look pretty but they are certainly interesting. The introduction of horses to the West changed the Indians of the plains into a mounted army of unsurpassed skills and appetite for killing. The Comanches excelled.
Indians killed Indians, Mexicans, and American settlers and soldiers. Settlers and soldiers killed Indians and Mexicans. And the Spanish and Mexicans did their share of killing. All the killers lived by various codes of honor and morality.
To wonder how history might have been different for North America is naive and silly. The bloody conflict over dominance had gone on for centuries before any English or Spanish dropped anchor.
The difference between old antagonists and the new invaders was that the American Indians were of a stone age and Europe had long ago surpassed their stone age. New diseases, smaller populations, and the loss of the Buffalo marked the Indians for eventual defeat. One side was not smarter than the other side, although each thought very little of the other. The forces of Western civilization were unstoppable. Shameful, but there it is.
Those Western movies I watched as a kid never came close to accurate history or the excitement of the truth. Now our delicate sensibilities would never tolerate a movie that captured Quanah Parker, the Comanches, and the Texans in living color. The cost would be prohibitive, but the revenue would be enormous. The sequels would be endless.
We lost Comancheria and gained Texas. No takebacks allowed. Enjoy the book. Charles Marlin