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“A Model of Historical Viewing and Information” (A. C. Greene)

151. RICHARDSON, Rupert Norval. The Comanche Barrier to South Plains Settlement a Century and a Half of Savage Resistance to the Advancing White Frontier. Glendale: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1933. 424, [4 ads] pp., numerous full-page text illustrations (maps, some of which are double-page, portraits, scenes). 8vo, original blue gilt-lettered cloth. Fine and bright, mostly unopened.

     First edition. Basic Texas Books 174. Campbell, p. 181. Clark & Brunet 207: “Classic account of the conflict on the southern Plains between white encroachment and Comanche resistance. It is recounted in a scholarly and impartial manner, and the book has long been considered a classic in frontier literature.” Dobie, p. 35. Dykes, Western High Spots, p. 18 (“Western Movement—Its Literature”). Rader 2783. Saunders 3122.  Tate, Indians of Texas 2415: “The standard history of Comanche raids on Texas, and the reprisals and systems of frontier defense organized by Texans and the U.S. Army. Comanches are viewed as a ‘barrier’ to settlement and progress, but the book well relates feelings of white settlers toward the government, army and the Comanches.”

Greene, The Fifty Best Books on Texas, p. 68:

This is a straightforward history, done well and done professionally by a writer I consider the equal to any historian the Southwest has produced. Not a history of the Comanche Indian tribes, but it does make enough investigations into the tribal past to satisfy questions about how this one group of Indians became the scourge and terror of Texans, even as their numbers (never great) were being crushed to a remnant. Richardson’s scholarship works exactly the way a reader wants it to: it fills in the gaps, it informs you when the scene is clouded, and it supports its contentions and conclusions.  The Comanche Barrier is a model of historical viewing and information.  Dr. Richardson, who was born in 1891 in West Texas while the frontier was still very much alive around him, does not slide off into ancestral praise and aboriginal condemnation; his eye is constantly upon his topic, and that other ‘I,’ the first person pronoun, is not once used by the author.  Only in the final paragraph of The Comanche Barrier does he let a few words of the romantic (which, in reality, any good historian should be) come through: ‘They were finally defeated in the unequal conflict, but what a magnificent fight they made... But even yet, if we look by the light of an August moon across a Texas prairie dotted here and there by snarled mesquite and mottes of scrubby oak, surely we shall see phantom warriors riding as of old—Comanches.’

Some of the photographs in this book are the work of William Stinson Soule (1836-1908), a major photographer of Native American life who worked in the Fort Sill area between 1868 and 1875.  Among the best of Soule’s work in this volume is the striking portrait of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah Parker. ($200-400)

Auction 19 Short Title List | Auction 19 Prices Realized

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