The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 358
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
it is refreshing to read T. R. Fehrenbach's most recent work. Comanches:
The Destruction of a People is the collective biography of a stone age tribe
that struggled hopelessly but valiantly to survive and to preserve its unique
culture before the onslaught of a westering frontier nation armed with the
weapons of science and technology, and cloaked in the self-righteous confi-
dence which the doctrine of manifest destiny provided.
The author traces the history of the Nermernuh (as the Comanches
called themselves) from their first cautious emergence out of a harsh
mountain sanctuary in the central Rockies, to their heyday as the scourge
of the southern plains, and finally to their inescapable cataclysmic defeat
and ultimate humiliation on the reservation.
Several major themes emerge from the pages of this book: the inevit-
ability of brutal conflict between Indians and settlers, with the certainty
of tragic consequences for both peoples; the unconscionable cruelty of the
quiet war waged against the Comanche lifeway by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, a campaign far more destructive than the traditional form of
combat employed by the army on the field of battle; and the inability of
Comanches clinging with unparalleled tenacity to their aboriginal culture
to accommodate to the demands of a totally alien and, to them, incompre-
hensible Anglo-American civilization.
Comanches is essentially a revisionist study, and, as such, challenges a
number of delusions to which a whole generation of Americans have become
addicted. For instance, Fehrenbach demolishes the widely held fiction that
Quaker control of a reservation automatically produced happy and docile
charges, as well as the equally fallacious notion that Indians were at one
with nature, always conscientiously cherishing and conserving their physical
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. Although it supplements two earlier
seminal works, Rupert N. Richardson's Comanche Barrier and Ernest Wal-
lace and Edward A. Hoebel's The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains,
it goes well beyond these older studies, as Fehrenbach seeks to transcend
the limitations imposed by his own race and culture to comprehend Ameri-
can history as the red man viewed it.
Laymen, presumably those readers for whom the book was primarily
intended, may find Comanches too long for their taste, or at least too highly
detailed. Anthropologists are likely to differ with some of the author's
theorizing, particularly with his interpretation of the pre-Columbian era.
But for anyone seriously interested in the early history of the south plains,
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/403/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.