The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


In 1871, the Manifest Destiny was in full swing and it was time to rid the West of the hated Comanches. This 2010 bestseller by S.C. Gwynne certainly gives the reader a belly full of hate for the Comanches. Was the author writing about the savagery of the Indians more than the brutality of the white man? Probably, but the Indians were most likely employing their terroristic actions against the settlers to discourage any others from coming west. Early on Andrew Jackson wanted to extend the area of freedom west. He had many followers that believed the United States should set up democratic governments going west. That was the death knell for Mexico and all Indian tribes...later it was extended to the Pacific Ocean and beyond. It seemed the prevailing attitude was: If you weren’t weren’t qualified to govern your territory. The author didn’t say that, but it was done in a tacit manner. Any historian knows how the Manifest Destiny advanced westward after the Indians were defeated. Anyway, this book centers on the hated Comanche nation. The Comanches were so vicious that they were able to kowtow the ferocious Apache tribe and chase them into Mexico. This book also features the kidnapping of nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker by the Comanches culminating in the birth of her half breed (by Comanche war chief Peta Nocona) son, Quanah, who later became the leader of the Comanche nation. A 1956 movie starring John Wayne, The Searchers, was inspired by this true event. Caveat to the faint of heart...don’t read anymore of this review.   

The book basically covers the forty year war against the Comanche nation. The book tends to flip back and forth during the various years of conflict. This was a tad annoying to me; I would have preferred the years to have been in a chronological order during the hostilities between the Comanches, the white settlers, the Union Army and the Texas Rangers. Anyway, Colonel Mackenzie was given the task of wiping out the Comanches in 1871 by General William Tecumseh Sherman, hero of the Civil War. “For Mackenzie on the southern plains, Comanches were the obvious target: No tribe in the history of the Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan, and American occupations of this land had ever caused so much havoc and death. None was even a close second.” Early on, Mackenzie’s troop came upon an Indian attack of a wagon train. It became known as the Salt Creek Massacre. “According to Captain Robert G. Carter, Mackenzie’s subordinate, who witnessed its aftermath, the victims were stripped, scalped, and mutilated. Some had been beheaded and others had their brains scooped out. Their fingers, toes and private parts had been cut off and stuck in their mouths. They had been clearly tortured, too. Upon each exposed abdomen had been placed a mass of live coals. One wretched man, Samuel Elliott, was found chained between wagon wheels and, a fire having been made from the wagon pole, he had been slowly roasted to death...burnt to a crisp.”

By 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, making the old trails west obsolete, such as the Oregon Trail. Buffalo hunters were slaughtering the buffalo. “In Kansas alone, the bones of 31 million buffalo were sold for fertilizer between 1868-1881.” All these changes were underway when Mackenzie’s Raiders left their camps on Clear Fork. The Indian tribes were impeding progress...they needed to be wiped out. Especially the hostile Comanches band known as the Quahadis. “Quahadis were the hardest, fiercest, least yielding component of a tribe that had long had the reputation as the most violent and warlike on the continent; if they ran low on water, they were known to drink the contents of a dead horse’s stomach, something even the toughest Texas Ranger would not do. Even other Comanches feared them.” In 1871, Mackenzie was tracking a Quahadi band that was led by a young war chief by the name of Quanah. Mackenzie and his men didn’t know much about Quanah. No one did... Quanah was simply too young for anyone to know much about him yet...He was reputed to be ruthless, clever, and fearless in battle. But there was something else about Quanah, too. He was a half breed, the son of a Comanche chief and a white woman.” Okay, aside from the first paragraph, all of this happened in the first seven pages. On page eight the reader is going to find out why Quanah’s mother was famous... “She was the best known of all Indian captives of the era...She was ‘the white squaw’ because she had refused on repeated occasions to return to her people.” Who was she?

“Her name was Cynthia Ann Parker. She was the daughter of one of early Texas’s most prominent families, one that included Texas Ranger captains, politicians, and prominent Baptists who founded the state’s first Protestant church. In 1836 (you see what I mean about flip flopping years?), at the age of nine, she had been kidnapped in a Comanche raid at Parker’s Fort, ninety miles south of present Dallas. She soon forgot her mother tongue, learned the Indian ways, and became a full member of the tribe. She married Peta Nocona, a prominent war chief, and had three children by him, of whom Quanah was the eldest. In 1860, when Quanah was twelve, Cynthia Ann was recaptured at the battle of Pease River during an attack by Texas Rangers on her village, during which everyone but her and her infant daughter, Prairie Flower, were killed.” Her husband, Peta Nocona was pursued by Texas Ranger, Sul Ross, and ultimately killed, but her two sons, Quanah and Peanuts, got away. Okay, you just had a eight page taste of history, the rest of the pages are on you. The book seemed long (although it was less than 400 pages) because reading history in its straight form can be a bit boring, but the knowledge gained is priceless. I highly recommend this piece of yesteryear.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: It seems to me that the Union Army and the Texas Rangers took a very long time to figure out how to fight the Comanches, and when they finally did...the war turned in their favor. Why the troops would dismount to fight the world’s best horsemen (the Comanches), who could accurately fire arrow after arrow with precision, is beyond me. Finally, when the Texas Rangers got the famous Jack Hays to lead them, strategy was used for the first time against the Indians. “Hays preferred surprise-killing them, just as the Comanches preferred to do, in their villages while they slept. He had learned the fundamental lesson of plains warfare: It was either victory or death.” There was no such thing as a fair fight. You either won or lost.

“He also learned quickly what would become his main advantage: Comanches were extremely predictable. They never changed their methods. They were deeply custom-bound and equally mired in their notions of medicine and magic. They reacted to a given situation - such as the killing of their war chief or medicine man - in exactly the same way, every time. In white man’s terms, they were easily spooked.” In other words, if you killed one of their leaders, they became disorganized and scattered.

The invention of Samuel Colt’s .36 caliber, five chambered rounds revolving pistol was a God send for Hay’s troops. Now in a mounted close-up fight, Hay’s troops each had two chambered pistols (a total of ten shots before having to reload) against the Indians, who had a quiver of twenty arrows each. “No one knows exactly how these revolvers came into the hands of Jack Hays and his Rangers. But they most certainly did. Whenever the event took place, the Rangers immediately grasped the significance of such weapons. To them, Colt’s contraption was a revelation: a multishot weapon that could be used from horseback and thus, at last, even the odds.”

Unknowingly, a big weapon the white men brought to the plains were their diseases. Cholera, measles, malaria, smallpox, whooping cough and influenza killed off many thousands of Indians.        

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