The Comanche Empire

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Yale University Press, 2008 - History - 500 pages
13 Reviews
Winner of the 2009 Bancroft Prize, given by Columbia University


In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, at the high tide of imperial struggles in North America, an indigenous empire rose to dominate the fiercely contested lands of the American Southwest, the southern Great Plains, and northern Mexico. This powerful empire, built by the Comanche Indians, eclipsed its various European rivals in military prowess, political prestige, economic power, commercial reach, and cultural influence. Yet, until now, the Comanche empire has gone unrecognized in historical accounts.


This compelling and original book uncovers the lost story of the Comanches. It is a story that challenges the idea of indigenous peoples as victims of European expansion and offers a new model for the history of colonial expansion, colonial frontiers, and Native-European relations in North America and elsewhere. Pekka Hämäläinen shows in vivid detail how the Comanches built their unique empire and resisted European colonization, and why they fell to defeat in 1875. With extensive knowledge and deep insight, the author brings into clear relief the Comanches’ remarkable impact on the trajectory of history.

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Review: The Comanche Empire

User Review  - Amalauna Brock - Goodreads

Essentially another book of revisionist history, but yet something new and unexpected. The book is not a bad read for the interested historian, but be warned the book is wordy and tedious in its repeated restating. The research is impeccable and the concept novel. Read full review

Review: The Comanche Empire

User Review  - Don - Goodreads

Hämäläinen presents a unique definition of "empire" to allow the Comanche to qualify as imperialists. Nonetheless, it is an interesting and well written book. Read full review


one Conquest
two New Order
three The Embrace

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About the author (2008)


Pekka Hämäläinen is associate professor of history, University of California, Santa Barbara. He lives in Santa Barbara.

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