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Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
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Empire of the Summer Moon (2010)

by S. C. Gwynne

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1,116617,391 (4.02)128
  1. 00
    The Comanche Empire by Pekka Hamalainen (Muscogulus)
    Muscogulus: Gwynne's book captured all the hype, but Hämäläinen's book is the one that revolutionized the history of the Comanche people. It deserves more attention.
  2. 00
    Comanche Sundown by Jan Reid (SRPetty)
    SRPetty: These books cover similar territory but one is solidly researched fiction, the other solidly researched non-fiction. To read them together will enhance your experience of this troubled time in our history.
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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
One of the reasons I'm enamored with stories of the American West is they share this consistent theme of progress at a terrible cost. For many, much was lost, and for others, much was gained. Once upon a time North America was this vast expanse of wilderness, populated by a multitude of tribes and untouched by the modern world, and then in a relative instant that way of life was whisked away (though some would say consumed) by civilization. This is the unified story of all mankind: The rise and fall of societies while the human race goes on. The story of the Comanches is also part of that larger story—of remembering what once was and no longer is.

The Comanches were, in a word, calamitous. They thrived on primacy; on the destruction of those around them, be it whites, Mexicans or other Indians. They were not the Hopi-like people our idealistic imaginings of life before the Europeans make them out to be. And neither did they just kill for territorial reasons. Sometimes it was for revenge; sometimes it was for the pure sport of it. The tortures they inflicted on a whim would give you nightmares. A warrior's heart indeed.

Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne succeeds in capturing the entire history of the Comanches by relating it through the narrative of two individuals: Cynthia Ann Parker, a young girl captured by the tribe in 1836 and subsequently lived with them for the next 24 years, and her firstborn son, Quanah Parker, one of the Comanches most effective leaders and also its last. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Apr 30, 2015 |
A fascinating history of the gradual expansion of whites into Texas and the depletion of the Comanche tribe. Really help put things about the era in context. It can be hard in the modern era to picture how vast the prairie seemed, or how tribes like the Comanches managed to evade whites for so many decades, especially in the time period of guns, trains and other technology.

Two things: as other reviewers have mentioned, the book certainly has a white perspective, occasionally bordering on racism. Secondly, the overarching timeline and connection of the story lines could occasionally be hard to follow, but that second was just minor. ( )
  abbeyhar | Apr 2, 2015 |
Loaned to Sal on 3.13.2015. Returned to me on 4.25.2015
  etcostello | Mar 13, 2015 |
As a student of American Indian history (in the Southeast), I have been asked more than once whether I’ve read this popular book. I’m no expert on the Comanches and only have a general acquaintance with the Great Plains nations. But I do have an in-depth understanding of how challenging it is to write the history of a people whose records were kept by their conquerors. Knowing how much better Indian histories have become in recent years, I came to Empire of the Summer Moon with high hopes. But my first scout through the pages, including a long camp in the bibliography, showed me a history as dead and barren as Ezekiel’s plain of dry bones. Reading the book is like having the ghosts of cavalrymen and settlers rise up to harangue us about the bloody deeds of “wild Indians,” while Indian ghosts remain quiet in their unmarked graves.

This old-fashioned western history pits civilized white people against savage redmen in a bloody contest for control of land. The contest is a racial one and the outcome is inevitable. Because race explains so much, the book dwells with fascination on the “white squaw” Cynthia Ann Parker and her “mixed-blood” son, Quanah. The Comanches as a whole are treated, not as a nation with a history and culture, but as a body of fierce, “primitive” horseback warriors with women and children stowed back at camp under tepees. Because they are so primitive, the Comanches have no history: the way they lived in the 1800s is assumed to be the way they had always lived, and the only way they ever could live.

A good counterpoint to this book would be Comanche author Paul Chaat Smith’s funny and insightful Everything You Know About Indians Is Wrong. It’s too bad Sam Gwynne didn’t have a chance to read it before he embarked on Empire of the Summer Moon. Maybe it would have made a difference.

More: https://alarob.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/book-review-empire-of-the-summer-moon/ ( )
1 vote Muscogulus | Feb 10, 2015 |
It was difficult at times to read about the horrific things done by both Indians and Whites. But I learned a lot about the settling of the country and what was done to the Indians.
( )
  Pickiej | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Empire of the Summer Moon is a skillfully told, brutally truthful, history.

 
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The desert wind would salt their ruins and there would be nothing, no ghost or scribe, to tell any pilgrim in his passing how it was that people had lived in this place and in this place had died.
Dedication
To Katie and Maisie
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Cavalrymen remember such moments: dust swirling behind the pack mules, regimental bugles shattering the air, horses snorting and riders' tack creaking through the ranks, their old company song rising on the wind: "Come home, John! . ..."
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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, who was kidnapped by Comanches as a nine-year-old girl, and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Although readers may be more familiar with the Apache and Sioux [LaKota], it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined 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 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.
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, the arrival of the railroads, and the amazing story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah - a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Hailed by critics, Empire of the Summer Moon announces S.C. Gwynne as a major new writer of American History
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Describes the actions of both whites and Comanches during a 40-year war over territory, in a story that begins with the kidnapping of a white girl, who grew up to marry a Comanche chief and have a son, Quanah, who became a great warrior.

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