BOOK REVIEW: Empire of the Summer Moon: Rise and Fall of the Comanches By S.C. Gwynne


By T.J. SCHREIBER Campus Press Literary Critic


There are two myths that concern the old American west. The first is that it was full of savage Indians and outlaws and that the only way to stop them was to draw weapons faster than them. The second myth was that the Indians were innocent and peaceful until the white man came. This book almost succeeds in finding a grey area in this historical mess.  This book is part biography, part ethnic survey, and part history of the State of Texas. It does an excellent job of explaining the last years of the Indian wars and is a must on any western wish reading list.

A Horse is a Horse of Course   One of the elements of the Comanches nation that the book makes an extra effort to explain is the effect and important impact that the horse had on the society. It basically tells us that the horse made them more nomadic and also some of the best light calvary units in the world. It also made the Comanches difficult to find and destroy on the vast prairies because they were so fast. The effects on the Comanche economy were also noted (wealth was measured in how many horses a man/family owned).

(The Comanche are a Plains Indian tribe whose historic territory, known as Comancheria, consisted of present day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. The Comanche people are enrolled in the federally recognized Comanche Nation, in Oklahoma.  Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers with a horse culture. There may have been as many as 45,000 Comanches in the late 18th century. Today, the Comanche Nation Comanche tribal enrollment numbers 15,191 with approximately 7,763 members residing in the Lawton – Fort Sill and surrounding areas of Southwest Oklahoma.)

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