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Cloudy,50°
Friday, October 24, 2014

Tex-Mex as you've never experienced it
(Page 2 of 3)
Eli’s story is the most compelling. We witness the killing of his family on the day he is kidnapped, and we ride bareback with him and his captors into Comanche territory and a strange new life. Of the Comanche, Eli says in later years, “The Spanish had been in Texas hundreds of years but nothing had come of it. The Lipan Apaches stopped the old conquistadors in their tracks. Then came the Comanche. The earth had seen nothing like them since the Mongols; they drove the Apache into the sea, destroyed the Spanish Army, and turned Mexico into a slave market. I once saw Comanche herding villagers along the Pecos, hundreds at a time, no different from the way you’d drive cattle.”

The descriptions are unsparing: white mobs slaughtering entire Mexican families, dozens at a time, for suspected horse thievery; the torturing of white captives by Comanche women; scalping by Comanche warriors; scalping and pillaging by the once-revered Texas Rangers, and a magnificently researched, detailed account of Comanche butchering a buffalo, drinking its blood, eating its liver while it was still warm and using every single part of the animal down to its finest bones for sewing hides. The author did not need to explain that, with the mindless killing of buffalo by the encroaching white settlers, the fate of the Comanche was etched in stone.

This is not a usual book in my annual repertoire, but it offers an extraordinary experience. It is the human story, of course, which brings the writing to life. The history of Texas is background music, with the Texans’ hat-and-horse mentality, the rapacious use of the land, the decimation of the Native Americans and the ghastly treatment of Mexicans, whose dead bodies on the road were referred to as “carcasses.”
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