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Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History [Kindle Edition]

S. C. Gwynne
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,242 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $8.99
You Save: $8.01 (47%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description


In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.

Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.

The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the "White Squaw" who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often referred to as “lords of the Plains,” were the single most powerful military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican and U.S. governments. In this engrossing chronicle, award-winning journalist Gwynne traces the rise of the Comanche people from their roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century. Quanah was the son of a Comanche warrior and a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped at the age of nine and chose to stay with the Comanches. Quanah was a brilliant, feared war chief who guided his people in adapting to new realities after their final suppression by the U.S. Calvary. An outstanding addition to western-history collections. --Jay Freeman

Review

"Man for man, the Comanches were the fiercest and most resourceful warriors in North America, and they held onto their domain with an almost otherworldly tenacity. In this sweeping work, S.C. Gwynne recreates the Comanche's lost world with gusto and style—and without sentimentality. After reading Empire of the Summer Moon, you'll never think about Texas, or the Great Plains, in quite the same way again."

--Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Hellhound On His Trail


Product Details

  • File Size: 4694 KB
  • Print Length: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 25, 2010)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003KN3MDG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,648 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
395 of 410 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating. History at its best. June 15, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne is an eye opening account of an often overlooked era of this country's history. S. C. Gwynne is a consummate researcher and storyteller displaying the love of his topic.

Gwynne manages to tell this multilevel, multifaceted story in a riveting manner. Relating history is a difficult task to do well. Very few authors seem to have the ability to relate history is a manner that makes it interesting and then manages to hit all the high spots. The late Barbara Tuchman did it well as did Stephen Ambrose and David G. McCullough. High praise for Gwynne? Yes, and well deserved.

Empire of the Moon examines the forty year battle waged by the Comanche nation against the constant encroachment of pioneers from the young United States. They had fought off the Spanish, French, and Mexican invaders, rolled back the Apache Nation and did a pretty good job in forestalling the American invasion. But the relentless push of westward settlement eventually won out. It is the attention to details and the development of the principle characters that makes Gwynnes book unique. This is especially true in how he deals with the young Cynthia Parker, the white girl taken captive and raised as a Comanche. She disappeared after this but eventually adopted the Comanche way of life, married a chief and became the mother of Quanah Parker, the center for Gwynne's book. Gwynne must have had access to new resources since he presents new details to the reader (new to me, anyway). At the risk of being obvious, the story of Cynthia Parker makes the purchase and reading of this book worthwhile by itself.
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568 of 599 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great History--Both Brutal and Warm June 1, 2010
By C L
Format:Hardcover
Mr Gwynne has written a masterpiece. It is the story, first, of a deadly land: Endless miles of grassland with no shelter and almost no water. People died from the heat, thirst, lightning strikes, and simply from getting lost and giving up hope in an enormous area, every acre so alike in appearance that it was like looking at the water of an ocean. The primary story is of the people who wanted this deadly land and who were willing to kill for it. The Spanish. The Mexicans. The Apaches. The Comanches. The Texans. All of these people were tough and stubborn. They believed in vengeance and they went after it.
Mr Gwynne does not take sides. He describes the ruthlessness and savagery of all involved, he tells what happened and allows the reader to make his own decisions and retroactively take whatever side he wants to. But Gwynne does more than tell of people's violence. He shows the same people at home, caring and fun loving.
Chief Parker, Cynthia Parker, Ranger Hays, Colonel Mackenzie, and several others were fascinating people and Gwynne makes them real to our modern eyes. It is evident that he admires them all, for their toughness and their determination and their courage. After reading this excellent book, most of us will admire them all, too.
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172 of 188 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars summer reading at its best June 13, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Whatever Hollywood version of the winning of the Old West is in your head, read Empire of the Summer Moon for the real story. The human drama of the kidnapped white girl who grew up to be the wife of a Comanche chief and the mother of the last great chief is just the locus for the historical, geographical, and political perfect storm of the nineteenth century Great Plains. It's sad and amazing.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down June 15, 2010
Format:Hardcover
What a fantastic book this is. In honest, sometimes brutal, yet always unbiased prose, Mr. Gwynne presents a period of history that has been glossed over, especially in movies and school history books. He brings the period of Texas expansion into Indian lands to life in a way that made me feel I was right there with both the settlers and the Comanches and provided many thought-provoking moments throughout. I highly recommend this book and look forward to any future histories Mr. Gwynne may write.
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly crafted and downright exciting to read. June 16, 2010
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book planning to read it after finishing The Man Who Ate His Boots (hardcover also from Amazon). That was a mistake because as the cliche goes I could not put it down. And that's because the author's narrative is superbly crafted, his action scenes beautifully drawn, his timing perfect.

Here's a sample: "Blanco Canyon would give the U.S. Army its first look at Quanah. The author then quotes Captain Carter's firsthand description of "the young war chief in battle..."'A large and powerfully built chief led the bunch, on a coal black racing pony. Leaning forward upon his mane, his heels nervously working in the animal's side, with a six-shooter poised in the air, he seemed the incarnation of savage, brutal joy. His face was smeared with black warpaint, which gave his features a satanic look...a full length headress or war bonnet of eagle's feathers spread out as he rode...he was naked to the waist, wearing simply leggings, moccasins and a breechclout. A necklace of beare's [sic] claws hung about his neck....' After quoting Carter's description, the author finishes the picture -- "Moments later, Quanah wheeled his horse in the direction of an unfortunate private named Seander Greeg and, as Carter and his men watched, blew Gregg's brains out."

This is not to mention the insightful political and geographic detail plus the absorbing story of the Comanche's singular mastery of the mustang introduced into the high plains by the Spanish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Book
Wow is this a good book! The history of the Commanche people is fascinating and I can't wait to read it again.
Published 1 day ago by Ed
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it and read it cover to cover in a ...
A totally engaging look at the Commanche nation and it's interface with the tribes around it and the white Europeans who came later through the experiences of Quanah Parker and his... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Robert W. Hayworth
5.0 out of 5 stars The Commanches in Texas
Quanah Parker and the Commanches are a part of Texas history. This book presents a great timeline of both. It is well written.
Published 1 day ago by T. Barber
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop reading all those reviews - just get it!
A fantastic depiction of both sides of the frontier-time conflicts. Down to earth and yet immensely gripping, realistic, with lots of shades of grey. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Grzegorz Krawczyk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good history of the Panhandle of Texas before the farmers/ranchers/railroads came. An excellent read.
Published 4 days ago by Mary Kathleen Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful read. An interesting part of history - but also a very bad outcome
Published 4 days ago by rm
3.0 out of 5 stars Hyperbole overshadows the narrative. Moreover, the author uncritically...
Hyperbole overshadows the narrative. Moreover, the author uncritically accepts reports of events. (which upon further research the author most certainly would have at least... Read more
Published 5 days ago by STEPHEN HOLLOWAY
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the Comanche people of north Texas
Excellent history of the Comanche people of north Texas. As a Texas resident I was in awe of the history surrounding me.
Published 7 days ago by waltf
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! From both perspectives a factual and documented ...
Excellent book! From both perspectives a factual and documented history of Texas!
Published 7 days ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic
The definitive book on the Comanche Indians of Texas. Even being a native son, I learned a lot about my state from this book. A historical classic of our American West.
Published 7 days ago by Richard Salinas
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More About the Author

Sam Gwynne is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared extensively in Time, for which he worked as bureau chief, national correspondent and senior editor from 1988 to 2000, and in Texas Monthly, where he was executive editor. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, and California Magazine. His previous book Outlaw Bank (co-authored with Jonathan Beaty) detailed the rise and fall of the corrupt global bank BCCI. He attended Princeton and Johns Hopkins and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Katie and daughter Maisie.

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Empire of the Summer Moon
Disregard the criticisms of the book above--they're entirely unfair. The author painstakingly describes each culture involved in the centuries long race to control the southwestern quadrant of North America. However, he neither demonizes Europeans nor sanitizes native Americans, which is... Read More
Oct 26, 2012 by C-Rock |  See all 7 posts
pictures in kindle?
I also would like to know if the Kindle version includes all of the photos of the book prior to purchasing--it is a book where the photos are important.
Jul 5, 2011 by T. Hellkamp |  See all 2 posts
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