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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
by S. C. Gwynne

Published: 2010-05-25
Hardcover : 384 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 7 members

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.

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Introduction

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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.

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by [email protected] (see profile) 10/21/20

It's an interesting account of of the interface of an industrial/agrarian society with a hunter gatherer society. It's ironic that the principal early advantage of the Comanche came from the... (read more)

 
by its.mama (see profile) 05/29/15

 
by Kerrinhp (see profile) 05/29/15

 
  "Empire of the Summer Moon"by shimkaveg (see profile) 12/04/11

Very interesting historical account of the Comanches Indians along with fantastic descriptions of life in the wild west days. This book was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. Our book club consists of both... (read more)

 
  "Empire of the Summer Moon"by CynEver (see profile) 05/17/11

Essential reading for all Americans as it tells the true story of the clash of two civilizations, the Stone Age Comanches and the industrialized white settlers, in the 1800s of West Texas.

 
  "American Indians"by Abby0814 (see profile) 03/20/11

I enjoy reading abt Am Indians and this is one of the best I've read. Without taking sides Gwynne gives facts and descriptions. He clarifies the situation for the comanches and the settlers without glossing... (read more)

 
  "Empire of the Summer Moon"by shimkaveg (see profile) 12/31/10

 
  "Empire of the Summer Moon"by Angeletti (see profile) 08/18/10

Liked the way the author directed the events from a historical point of view without prejudice, emotional attachments and a judgemental attitude. Offering an overview of the cultural and ethnic values... (read more)

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