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Comanches: The History of a People Paperback – April 8, 2003


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Frequently Bought Together

Comanches: The History of a People + Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (April 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“For a complete history of the Comanches, this book probably has no equal.” –Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

“This is a very good book. Like virtually all good books about the American Indian, it tells a tragic story, but unlike many of them, it tells it well. The author has mastered an extensive and complex subject: he is flexible, well-organized, and sensitive.” –Larry McMurtry

“Fehrenbach is a highly interpretive and original writer, whose work rests on solid scholarship. His book ranges grandly across the disciplines from folklore to anthropology to history.” –Southwestern Historical Quarterly

From the Back Cover

“For a complete history of the Comanches, this book probably has no equal.” –Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

“This is a very good book. Like virtually all good books about the American Indian, it tells a tragic story, but unlike many of them, it tells it well. The author has mastered an extensive and complex subject: he is flexible, well-organized, and sensitive.” –Larry McMurtry

“Fehrenbach is a highly interpretive and original writer, whose work rests on solid scholarship. His book ranges grandly across the disciplines from folklore to anthropology to history.” –Southwestern Historical Quarterly

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Customer Reviews

In a word, Fehrenbach's scholar-level book leaves you with a deep respect for the Comanches.
Christopher B. Jonnes
The author obviously conducted very thorough research in writing this book and presents a very well organized and enjoyable read.
Raoul Duke
This book was fascinating and I believe is an essential read for anyone interested in Native Americans.
B. Zipfel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent book!
In this book, Mr. Fehrenbach provides a valuable service in this day and age when he describes, unflinchingly, the utter savagery employed by Indian tribes' particular brand of "warfare" - not warfare at all really but more of a rite of passage for males in the band. A rite in which the systematic rape, mutilation and gruesome torture of one's helpless captives was considered perfectly acceptable - and not limited to only white men, women and children either - other enemy Indian tribes were just as imperiled. He also pulls no punches with regard to the reciprocating treachery, hatred and savagery employed Europeans settlers. But, more important than anything that could be construed as fault-finding, he highlights the underlying cultural ethos that were at work when describing the clash of cultures that occurred between red men and white and brings home the inevitableness of this clash and the hopelessness of accommodating the Indian's way of life amid the title wave of immigration and settlement that occurred throughout the 19th century.
This book should be required reading in all our Colleges and Universities.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
An outstanding work of narrative history. Fehrenbach occasionally refers to works he has cited but most often presses forward with the story uninterrupted by footnotes. A bibliography is included following the text.
This is a wide-ranging look at the Comanche spanning their first known origins and their ethnic, cultural, and environmental evolution into the ultimate horse Indians. The tribe's history is set in the context of the history of the land they occupied. First, Fehrenbach lays out the Spanish conquest of northern Mexico, and the imperial policies that governed their frontier, and delineates how those policies and practices fostered the advance of Comanches as a horse culture built on raiding and marauding. Then with the demise of the Spanish as a power, he juxtaposes the Comanche against the advancing Anglo-Texan population. Not only does this paint a complete picture of the Comanche, it provides an overview of the history of the region and great insight into the differing approaches to empire among the Spanish, French, and Anglos and the results those policies produced on the ground. Not dull stuff at all the way he tells it.
Fehrenbach's writing style is fluid and transparent, designed to tell the story not to draw undue attention to himself as a writer. He has a novelitst's sense of pace and drama that never allows the story to bog down. He also has an eye for character and detail that deftly draws together the telling elements that make his vignettes poignant and memorable. Most of all, however, he formulates deductive historical insights that pinpoint the causative factors shaping the direction of history. And all this in a text as readable as a finely crafted novel.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the story of the Comanche, an intensely warlike people whose protection of home and hearth was quite fanatical. For 250 years, these Central-West Texas nomads were the preeminent force of their region, striking terror into the hearts of everyone who encountered them. Oddly, they made peace with only one group, the Hispanic population of today's New Mexico. For the uniqueness of this relationship, these Santa Fe traders subsequently become known throughout history as the "Comancheros."

From any other indigenous or imperialist group however, they simply took what they wanted. They defeated the Spanish several times in pitch battles, ignored the French and retarded their Western ambitions, tolerated the Americans while raiding the Santa Fe Trail for sport and slaughtered their hated enemies, the Texans, by the thousands. They were a people in a 300 x 400 mile enclave unto themselves, who, within their environment, were so technologically superior to everyone else that they took on and conquered all comers with efficiency and dispatch. They were a race apart, often raiding 1,000 miles at a time, deep into the heart of Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula.

While the Comanche managed to maintain their independence and even increased their territory, by the mid-nineteenth century they faced annihilation because of a wave of epidemics introduced by European settlers. Outbreaks of smallpox (1817, 1848) and cholera (1849) took a major toll on the Comanche, whose population dropped from an estimated 20,000 in mid-century to just a few thousand by the 1870s.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Edward E. Rudder (edrudder@hotmail.com) on November 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book describes the history and destruction of the Commanche people in a manner that makes the book hard to put down. More importantly the story of the interactions of the Commanche people, the Spaniards, Mexicans, Texans, and Americans are portrayed in the fairest manner possible. There are no good guys, no bad guys, just people doing what they had to do to survive. Fehrenbach's insight into the Commanche ethos allows one to understand why European based cultures had to fear them, hate them, and at the same time respect them and actually feel proud that such a people existed. At the same time I have become more proud of my Texan ancestors whether they be White, Indian, or Mexican. I now understand why the Commanche people and the American or Texan peoples could not have coexisted. Tragically, one had to be exterminated.
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