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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 Paperback – Illustrated, May 10, 2011
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Transcendent . . . Empire of the Summer Moon is nothing short of a revelation . . . will leave dust and blood on your jeans.”--New York Times Book Review
"In Empire of the Summer Moon, Sam Swynne has given us a rich, vividly detailed rendering of an important era in our history and of two great men, Quanah Parker and Ranald Slidel Mackenzie, whose struggles did much to define it."
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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.
I live in the area of Texas and Oklahoma covered in the book. I have family papers used by relatives three generations ago to establish Indian connections for the purpose of personal gain. I have visited the forts and parks, missions, and roadside historical signs related to this time period. This book helped me put the pieces together.
If you think one group is all bad and the other all good, you will hate this book. If you want to take a hard look at what happens when cultures clash, this book tackles the subject in a compelling and interesting way.
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.