1) The Comanche Empire – Pekka Hämäläinen
Yale University Press | 2009 | PDF
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a Native American empire rose to dominate the fiercely contested lands of the American Southwest, the southern Great Plains, and northern Mexico. This powerful empire, built by the Comanche Indians, eclipsed its various European rivals in military prowess, political prestige, economic power, commercial reach, and cultural influence. Yet, until now, the Comanche empire has gone unrecognized in American history.
This compelling and original book uncovers the lost story of the Comanches. It is a story that challenges the idea of indigenous peoples as victims of European expansion and offers a new model for the history of colonial expansion, colonial frontiers, and Native-European relations in North America and elsewhere. Pekka Hämäläinen shows in vivid detail how the Comanches built their unique empire and resisted European colonization, and why they fell to defeat in 1875. With extensive knowledge and deep insight, the author brings into clear relief the Comanches’ remarkable impact on the trajectory of history.
2) Comanches: The History of a People – T.R. Fehrenbach
Anchor | 2003 | EPUB
Authoritative and immediate, this is the classic account of the most powerful of the American Indian tribes. T.R. Fehrenbach traces the Comanches’ rise to power, from their prehistoric origins to their domination of the high plains for more than a century until their demise in the face of Anglo-American expansion.
Master horseback riders who lived in teepees and hunted bison, the Comanches were stunning orators, disciplined warriors, and the finest makers of arrows. They lived by a strict legal code and worshipped within a cosmology of magic. As he portrays the Comanche lifestyle, Fehrenbach re-creates their doomed battle against European encroachment. While they destroyed the Spanish dream of colonizing North America and blocked the French advance into the Southwest, the Comanches ultimately fell before the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Army in the great raids and battles of the mid-nineteenth century. This is a classic American story, vividly and poignantly told.
3) Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845 – Stanley Noyes
University of New Mexico Press | 1994 | EPUB
This book offers a large, sweeping history of the Comanche Indians, who dominated the Southern Plains from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. No plains people was more feared or admired for its mastery of warfare and life in a harsh, arid environment. Euro and Native Americans alike anxiously dreaded the ferocity of Comanche enmity yet avidly sought the uncertainty of Comanche friendship. In this richly textured history, Stanley Noyes explores the golden century of Comanche domi-nation of the Southern Plains. ‘While his narrative recounts the relations of Comanches to Spanish, French, Mexican, American, and Native American neighbors, his vignettes provide vivid glimpses into Comanche culture and society. This is a sensitive portrait of human society and physical place. By the end of the book, we understand the Comanches both as a peerless warrior society and as an embattled people.
4) Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History – S. C. Gwynne
Scribner | 2011 | EPUB
In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.
S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.
The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.
Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the “White Squaw” who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.
S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.
5) Three Years Among the Comanches: The Narrative of Nelson Lee, Texas Ranger – Nelson Lee
First Published: 1859 | EPUB
This is a detailed account of Lee’s captivity among the Comanches in the 1850s and his escape through the mountains back to white civilization.