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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
Gwynne, S. C. (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Empire of the Summer Moon
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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.
Authors: Gwynne, S. C. (Samuel C.), 1953-
Title: Empire of the summer moon
Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2010.
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed.
Characteristics: viii, 371 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill., map, ports. ;,24 cm.
Contents: A new kind of war
A lethal paradise
Worlds in collision
High lonesome
The wolf's howl
Blood and smoke
Dream visions and Apocalypse
White squaw
Chasing the wind
Death's innocent face
War to the knife
White queen of the Comanches
The rise of Quanah
Uncivil wars
Peace and other horrors
The anti-Custer
Mackenzie unbound
The hide men and the messiah
The Red River War
Forward, in defeat
This was a man
Resting here until day breaks.
ISBN: 9781416591054
1416591052
9781416591061
1416591060
Statement of Responsibility: S.C. Gwynne
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 321-355) and index.
Subject Headings: Parker, Quanah, 1845?-1911. Comanche Indians Kings and rulers Biography. Comanche Indians Wars. Comanche Indians History. Frontier and pioneer life West (U.S.) West (U.S.) History 1848-1860. West (U.S.) History 1860-1890. West (U.S.) History 1890-1945. West (U.S.) Race relations.
Topical Term: Comanche Indians
Comanche Indians
Comanche Indians
Frontier and pioneer life
LCCN: 2009049747
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Comment by: DesPlainesReaders Oct 31, 2011

This book filled a huge hole in my view of North American history. The story of the Comanche people is not well-known, but our world would not be what it is today without this fierce and highly-skilled horse tribe. An extremely accessible and interesting history, this is very highly recommended f... Read More »

Comment by: m2 Jan 21, 2011

Wow! Maybe the best history book I ever read. Reads like a novel, but the research is fabulous. Made me understand the history of this country in a new way. I have given this one as a gift. A must read for anyone interested in Native American issues.
2010 was a truly fortuitous year, in which BO... Read More »


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Most native Indians were warlike and fought with each other a lot, long before Europeans came to these shores. Most people back then were warlike and cruel. I don't think its fair, blaming white people for what happened to the Native Americans. Most Native Americans were warrior tribes who attacked and killed and stole from other Native tribes, the whole world was like that, no matter what the color or origin of Nationality. I am also half Native American and used to be closed minded and angry about the past, but after much study and reading and Soul searching, I have come to understand mankind as a whole, Violence was rampant and normal at the time and is still in the world. Learn to forgive and forget what happened 200 or 300 or 700 years ago, bitterness and hatred are bad, and only hurts the one holding it in their hearts, Hate is Evil, it is the Darkside ! Don't waste any more time being bitter and hateful. I gave it all to GOD and his Son JESUS, and he sent the Holy Spirit to help me LOVE people, They will help you too, if you search for it in the Holy Bible. GOD IS LOVE ! The Devil is Hate !

Important American Indian History

Apr 17, 2014
  • 2gooddogs rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery. He killed our tribes and killed our creed, And took our game for his own need. We fought him hard we fought him well, out on the plains we gave him hell! But many came too much the cree, Oh will we ever be set free? Running through dust clouds and barren waste,galloping hard on the plains. Chasing the redskins back to their homes,fighting them at their own game. Selling them whiskey and taking their gold, enslaving the young and destroying the old. We are the most disgsusting violent species on the planet and paybacks gonna be a bee-tyotch!

Anyone who liked this book should also read "The Heart of Everything That Is The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend" By Drury, Bob. Both books are the same story in the same time period. One story took place in the southern US and the other took place in the northern US. The story is about different tribes and different chiefs but both cover the same period of US/Indian history. Both are good books. I have read both and I think "Empire of the Summer Moon" is the best.

Apr 15, 2014
  • JCLGreggW rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An amazingly readable, absolutely absorbing history of the Comanche tribe of Native Americans. The author doesn't approach them as a tribe, but as an empire. The book takes us from the start as a lowly group of outcasts as they become one of the first Americans to fully master the arrival of the horse from the Spanish and quickly emerge in a few generations as some of the fiercest warriors on the planet. Gwynne is both poetic and brutal as he pulls no punches with facts - those with sensitive stomachs may be disturbed with the passages dealing with atrocities done to Comanches and by them - but this is masterful stuff and worth a read. If you enjoyed this, check out the fiction selection THE SON by Philipp Meyer, about a boy taken in and raised by Comanches.

Sep 27, 2013
  • zenmark29 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I was never a big fan of history. Too dry, too many dates, nothing really human about the stories. Until now. This book fascinated and captivated me. It is an amazing and human story about two cultures in conflict and the individual human lives that are impacted by it. Gwynne introduces us to these two worlds in a way that really takes you there. The brutal reality in which the people lived out their lives during this time is tough to get through, but the story was impossible for me to put down. This isn't a made up of story of daring and adventure. It was real life daring and adventure. Real people's lives hung in the balance and the endings were frequently not happy. The strength and endurance of the individuals involved is a testament to the human spirit. It is well worth the read.

May 17, 2013
  • DeltaQueen50 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This Pulitzer Prize finalist, Empire of the Summer Moon is a fantastic book, one I literally couldn’t put it down. Top notch writing makes this epic narrative of how the Texas frontier was settled both an exciting and engaging read. Empire of the Summer Moon is a book that any fan of western fiction would find a great addition to their reading.

Apr 25, 2013
  • bjessima rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I was ultimately disappointed by this book. While there are a number of excellent insights gained, it ended up to me being an apologia for the usurpation of a nations territory by an invading civilization. I was sometimes offended by blatant demonization of the Comanche war practices (which do appear to have been quite extreme). In one particularly egregious example, the author documents in quite gruesome detail the torture and mutilation engaged in by Comanche raiders on while females. Only a few pages later, when whites attacked an Indian village, he indicates that they engaged in some extreme behavior that "wasn't worth detailing here". There are other examples of the same. This book does detail a part of history that I had little understanding of, but I kept returning to the thought that here was a Texan trying to justify a historical genocide.

Sep 01, 2012
  • SpyderGT rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I picked up this book because it was on the NYT bestseller list, not because I had any particular interest the westward expansion of the US and ensuing Indian wars of the 1870's. It turned out to be one of the most fascinating books I've read this year. The author is balanced in his assessments and descriptions of the participants and the events. Both sides had captured or sought to capture land from earlier peoples, both sides had their moments of honor, and both sides had their moments of brutality. A compelling read.

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app16 Version sidamo (sidamo) Last updated 2014/09/10 17:04