July 13, 2008

Comanches = full-fledged humans

Setting the record straight on the ComanchesThey were known as the "Lords of the South Plains"—fast, fierce, fearsome and shrewd. Originating in the southern reaches of the Rocky Mountains, they filtered onto the broad grasslands of eastern New Mexico, Texas and western Oklahoma and established a culture that for the better part of two centuries deftly played off the competing Spanish, French and American interests on their borders. They were the Comanches, and a fascinating new book, "The Comanche Empire" (Yale, $35) by Pekka Hml inen, details their unusual and colorful history.

Comanche horror stories were long a staple beside the sputtering hearths of colonial Spanish rancheros and 19th-century Anglo-American pioneers. Many a family suffered their depredations—horse theft, murder, and the abduction of beloved wives and daughters. In the more recent past, film directors and popular authors like Cormac McCarthy have added to this stock of lurid material, making a fully rounded and balanced appreciation of just who the Comanches were a daunting task for the conscientious researcher. Happily, Hml inen, an associate professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, proves himself more than equal to the challenge. He explains that he in fact wrote his big book to "recover Comanches as full-fledged humans and undiminished historical actors underneath the distorting layers of historical memory and, in doing so, to provide a new vision of a key chapter of early American history."
Comment:  Comanches were "full-fledged humans"? Who would've guessed? Not viewers of Comanche Moon, certainly.

The Comanche Empire sounds like a book Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana should read before they produce another stereotypical movie about Comanches.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have a vendetta against McMurtry. He wrote an analysis and review of the book, and even gave it a blurb.

Jealous much, Rob?