The Son: A Novel

son jacketThe Son: A Novel by Philipp Meyer

During the Westward expansion of the United States, also known as “Manifest Destiny” no group of Indians gave the settlers more problems than the Comanche.  They dominated an area of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico that was called “Comancheria”  In “The Son”, Eli McCullough, the thirteen-year-old son of a rancher in West Texas is captured by the Comanche after his family is killed. Along with his brother they are taken, naked, on a two week ride back to the Comanche home base. The Comanche are fierce and warlike, and love going on raids against the whites, the Mexicans, and other Indian tribes. They bring back horses, booty, and slaves.  At First Eli is consigned to hard manual labor with the women of the tribe, but as he proves his worth as a hunter and warrior, he is promoted to going on raids, and even earns his first scalp. 

Eli’s experiences are just the beginning of the story covered in this book. The history of Texas is laid out in the stories of Eli and his descendants. Eli’s son Peter is caught up in a blood feud with the Mexican Garcia Clan over Cattle.  Later when the cattle use up all the resources of the  land, oil is discovered, dotting the landscape with drilling rigs and saving the families fortunes.  Eli’s great granddaughter, Jeanne is raised on the ranch and can hold her own with her brothers. However when she takes over the family oil business she encounters old fashioned sexism in the nineteen sixties.

The history of the Comanche have been covered in other books and films.  “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S.C Gwynne tells the story of Quanah Parker, the half breed son of Cynthia  Parker, who was actually abducted by the Comanche and became a member of the tribe. Quanah was the last great Chief of the Comanche and presided over their eventual destruction and consignment to the reservation. 

In the movie, “The Searchers” John Wayne plays  Ethan Edwards, a civil war veteran whose niece, Debbie, is captured by the Comanche, thus starting a three year odyssey by Ethan and his adoptive nephew Martin to find and bring Debbie back home.

In the movie “A Man named Horse” Richard Harris plays

I’m usually not big on family sagas, but this one really interested me because of the Comanche connection.


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