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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 Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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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 + The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend + Captured By The Indians: 15 Firsthand Accounts, 1750-1870
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416591052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416591054
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

"S.G. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon is many things—a thrilling account of the Texas frontier in the nineteenth century, a vivid description of the Comanche nation, a fascinating portrait of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son, the mysterious, magnificent Quanah—but most of all it is a ripping good read. Gwynne writes history with a pounding pulse and a beating heart. In Empire of the Summer Moon he’s given us an epic frontier peopled with real men and women, living and dying and hoping and dreaming at the bloody edge of civilization. I couldn’t put it down."
--Jake Silverstein, Editor, Texas Monthly, and author of Nothing Happened and Then It Did

"Sam Gwynne is a master story-teller and a dogged reporter, and in this book he makes history come to life in a way that everyone -- not just students of the Texas myth -- will find irresistible. I couldn't put it down."
--Evan Smith, CEO and Editor in Chief, The Texas Tribune

"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

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.

Customer Reviews

This book was very well written and informative.
yvonne Warren
This is such an intriguing story of how US government and settlers went about taking land from the native american Indian tribes - especially the Comanches.
Marylou H. Foley
The story is also about Quanah Parker, a fierce chief of the Comanches who was half-white, being the offspring of Cynthia Ann Parker and Chief Peta-Nocona.
Janet Crystal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

395 of 410 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on 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 By C L on June 1, 2010
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 By Claire Singer on 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 By Angel Fire on 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 By Edward J. Quigley on 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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