With the recent plethora of writings on the Comanche, this powerful Native American tribe is finally receiving its historical due. In the nineteenth century theorists like Lewis Morgan lauded the Iroquois and Cherokee as the most important Amerindian tribes, while in the twentieth the Sioux (Lakota) enjoyed most of the limelight. Yet there can be no serious doubt of the Comanches’ massive importance in the history of the American West, and there is no hyperbole in S C Gwynne’s subtitle.
The first tribe to equip their entire people with horses (achieved around 1730), the Comanches ruled a huge tranche of modern Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. From their impenetrable fastnesses in the wilderness, they spiralled out to spread a reign of terror – over peaceful agricultural tribes, Spanish colonists, independent