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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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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
"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
Top customer reviews
EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON really awakened some of those memories - but from both sides. It was a horrible time for the settlers and the Indians! I have read many books on the subject, but this was the BEST, most accurate account, from both sides. It gives true documentation of events as they happened. We have given this book to so many family members and friends. A few weeks ago, we gave it to a Comanche friend. He said he learned so much about his people from this book. We HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone wanting to know the true history of the west from both sides.
The fact that for over 40 years I've lived in the middle of the area primarily concerned makes it more personal to me, as well as that one of my grandmothers was born in "Indian Territory" (as Oklahoma was called at first), & my mother told of some of her childhood memories of meeting Indians in her home town as a young girl, all add to my own interest. But the main attraction is the unbiased telling of the story, "no punches pulled." The author doesn't shy away from the details of the brutallity on both sides, so it can be disturbing at times; but it also shows the admirable aspects of both sides.
There is no question that Quanah was a truly great leader, but you'll have to read the whole story to understand just how great.
The Comanches were a ferocious and highly skilled band of warriors that were only defeated because of the better guns the whites had. I never imagined a tribe of 40,000 could have so thoroughly dominated such a large swath of land for hundreds of years. There was no "trail of tears" for these guys. So unflinching is the book that at times I could feel the terror I'm sure existed in the heart of every white that dared to settle near Comancheria. You're left wondering why anyone would choose to risk life and scalp - your own and your children's - to live on the barren plains of northwest Texas. That's an important question that the book leaves unanswered.
If you want to learn about cowboys and Indians this book is essential. I read Blood and Thunder and this book tells a very different story. Both are excellent but if you read only about the Navajos you don't come close to getting a full picture of this, our own Hundred Years' War.