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Both DeLay's book and Hämäläinen's "The Comanche Empire" were published by Yale University Press in its Lamar Series of Western History. Together they offer an in-depth perspective on a fascinating period in post Columbian history. I would recommend both books to anyone interested in the Mexican-American War/US Civil War. The strength of DeLay's book lies in its presentation of the attitudes, expectations, and relations between the heterogeneous, non-Indian peoples of northern Mexico and the government of that newly independent nation state and the way the mexicanos' attitudes and expectations toward their new government evolved in the face of attacks by Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches. These dynamics of the relationship between the people of Mexico and their new, evolving government are marginalized in Hämäläinen's book. By contrast, Hämäläinen's offers an extraordinary, even revelatory view of the Comanche peoples in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I would suggest reading Hämäläinen's book first because its focus is broader and because of the insight that that book offers into Comanche social organization and cultural values and the importance of those factors in shaping the interactions between the Comanche and all the non-Indian players at the table (eg, Spain, New Spain, Mexico, Texas, and the United States, both settlers/traders and government leaders/political figures/shapers of policy). "The Comanche Empire" also offers important insight into relationships between the Comanche and other Indian nations. Together, these books offer a fascinating view into an extraordinary period of Western history.
The book is hard to read but the material seems well researched and the book does contains information not found in other sources. From a "history" standpoint it is a good reference. Material on North American Indians raiding in Mexico is hard to come by. The effects of this raiding on the history of the area is hard to come by, this book does a good job of documenting that. Documentation of raids by Indians living in Mexico on Mexican people still remains to be written.
This book provides a gripping narrative of the role played by the independent Native American tribes of the region from the great plains to the edge of central Mexico. It shows the major part their initiatives played in allowing the expansion of Anglo settlers into Texas and then much of what was then North-west Mexico (including California). It also explains how these tribes were then also the victims of the Anglo expansion that they unwittingly helped bring about. It does not shrink from depicting the brutality and treachery that seems to have characterized so much of the warfare in this region. It ends with a sketch of how commercialization and intensification of raiding and stock-herding on the plains prepared the ground for the later collapse of bison populations to near-extinction.
Those who buy it on Kindle should be aware that no illustrations are included in that format; not even maps or graphs. It loses a good deal by that omission.
Most people have seen one of the Alamo movies and think they know something about Texas history. But the piece that is often forgotten is the role Indians played in Texas in the early years. I have read a lot about Texas history and this book is unique. In the early 1820s there were 25,000 indians and only about 5,000 of Mexican/Spanish decent. Indians actually controlled the state. This book has a tremendous amount of detail especially about the Commanches. It also explains how the Spanish dealt with the Indian problem and why it all fell apart in the 1830s. It is well researched and very readable. If you have not read this book, you just don't really understand what was going on in the late 1700s early 1800s in Texas and Northern Mexico.
Just reminded me of an essay test answer where the writer remembered a few facts and blabbered on about opinions, thoughts and anything the writer could conjure up to fill pages. Real history stories are linear, not vertical.
Where the pictures are supposed to be there is a bland statement that rights "were not granted" to include the picture and telling us we should consult the printed version. The seller should be obliged to supply a free printed version to everyone who bought the Kindle version.
I thoroughly agree with each of the other currently existing reviews, except regarding the Kindle gizmo, as I remain ungizmoed to present! This is the companion book to "The Comanche Empire" by Pekka Hämäläinen, which should be read first, for greater comprehension of the result as portrayed in DeLay's scholarly work. I'd long wondered how and why Generals Taylor & Wool, & particularly Doniphan's 1st Missouri Volunteers, were so successful in the northern campaigns, whereas Scott & company ran into such resistance coming up & over "the hill" into the valley of Mexico City to the far south. This volume presents a radical and irrefutable extraordinarily researched construct: Comanche, Apache, Navajo & Kiowa, by fulfilling their lifeforce and lust, indirectly but in large in part, caused Mexico to lose the northern half its landmass in the 1846-48 war. The blatant racism of all participants is amazing (and, again in part, long-lasting!). And one's compassion for the residents of Mexico's north cannot help but be great, causing we Anglo's to question those lasting prejudices. This author presents several brilliant metaphors (I believe this is the term!) to describe the magnitude of the Indian attacks (each being a light flashing in the darkness) over the passage of years, and their rippling impact upon the Northern Mexicans (a cloudburst over a pond),all which further amplifies the impact of this study. 5 Stars, you bet!
The description above is from a Mexican official, Jose Maria Sanchez, writing in 1830 about the North Americans flooding into Texas (then a Mexican state). Manuel Mier y Teran also noted the North Americans' contempt for Mexican laws and refusal to learn the language. The Mexicans clearly saw the threat to their sovereignty, and outlawed immigration from the north.
However, the Mexicans were unable to stop the eventuality they clearly foresaw. The Mexican North was a "thousand deserts", laid waste by Comanche raids, terrifying attacks of up to 1,000 warriors who could travel 100 miles a day. Roiling internal politics and a poor economy meant that Mexico did not protect its north from the norteamericano or Indian menaces. American and Mexican willingness to turn a blind eye to buying branded animals created a ready market for stolen livestock.
The next time I hear someone extolling Indian simplicity and virtue, I will grit my teeth. The Comanches were renowned for their gratuitous cruelty and devotion to vengeance and retribution, leaving behind "bellowing farm animals dragging their guts behind them",slaughtered noncombatants, some burned alive, and wholesale destruction of grain stocks and wells poisoned with corpses. Because Texans appear to have matched Comanches for ferocity, most of these raids were directed into the Mexico, even as far south as San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas, victimizing people who were no conceivable threat. Warriors would engage in a scorched earth campaign (as opposed to merely efficiently stealing animals) even when this put them in danger by giving defenders time to organize. There was plenty to seek vengeance for. For instance, in 1846, James Kirker, an American, led a party which slaughtered and scalped 130 unarmed Chiricahua Apaches in Galeana, Chihuahua, to general acclaim from the Mexican populace, an incident which discredited Apache voices advocating peace. All the while, of course, American politicians (especially those looking to expand slave territories)were observing these events with interest, realizing that the Indian raids helped create the opportunity for the United States to acquire northern Mexico, by purchase or conquest.
Professor DeLay's gripping book is full of these telling insights. I read this based on a recommendation from Larry McMurtry in The New York Review of Books. Who better to recommend readings on the American Southwest during this period?