Comanche Midnight: Essays

Stephen Harrigan, Author
Stephen Harrigan, Author University of Texas Press $29.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-292-73088-5
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-0-292-73096-0
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The title and opening essay of Texan Harrigan's (A Natural State) latest collection concerns the United States' continued affronts of the Comanche tribe. These affronts, Harrigan writes, have left a proud people torn between fading traditions and increasing social responsibilities. Although Harrigan does recall some of the Comanche history, he is careful not to let the past overwhelm the immediacy of the problems faced by contemporary Comanches. Like such writers as Barry Lopez and Peter Matthiessen, Harrigan sticks to the facts, whatever poetry comes from his thorough reporting rather than from sparkling prose. ``The Bay'' details the prolonged ecological collapse of Galveston Bay, while ``The Soul of Treaty Oak'' recreates the chaos and comedy following the poisoning of Austin's celebrated centuries-old tree. In ``The Temple of Destiny,'' Harrigan examines the defeat of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, and Cortes's murderous response to Aztec ritualized human sacrifice. Harrigan's compassion for these defeated subjects is offset throughout by an overwhelming sense of wanting to piece together another portion of the historical puzzle. Writing in a state known for its enormity, Harrigan is on the side of the small men who often die victims of a history that too quickly forgets. (June)
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