COMANCHES: The Destruction of a People by T.R. Fehrenbach
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COMANCHES: The Destruction of a People

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Fehrenbach, author of an excellent study on Mexico (Fire and Blood, 1973), gives compassionate due to the Comanches as they moved from Stone Age duress in the mountains to horse-back command of Southern Plains bison ranges, and ultimate surrender to U.S. Manifest Destiny. But he insists that the Comanches were vicious predators, not from white oppression or survival necessity, but from an ossified imperative of prestige through slaughter. The U.S. federal policy of making and breaking treaties, while avoiding decisive punitive counteraction in the style of the skillful, vengeful Texas Rangers, cost streams of unnecessary blood on both sides, Fehrenbach argues, as had the Mexican government's refusal to protect its northernmost settlers. The morning-to-morning threat of death by torture to Western farmers, and the hypocrisy of Washington's refusal to infer from decades of brutality that the Comanches would allow ""peace only through force"" are extrapolated by Fehrenbach into a revival of the concept of insoluble conflict. 19th century Westerners, both Caucasian and Indian, might readily appreciate Fehrenbach's rigor. Here and now, the book will enrage many readers by its insistence on the profoundly irreconcilable clash between static savagery (however understandable) and expansionist civilization (however compromised).

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1974
Publisher: Knopf