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Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and…

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the… (original 2010; edition 2011)

by S. C. Gwynne

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1,339725,788 (4)146
Title:Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Authors:S. C. Gwynne
Info:Scribner (2011), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 371 pages
Collections:Your library

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

  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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This well-written nonfiction narrative tells the story of the last years of the Comanche tribe's reign over the high plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding territory through the vehicle of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son, Quanah. Cynthia Ann, a while girl, was kidnapped by the Comanches during a raid when she was nine years old. After what Gwynne unflinchingly suggests was a harrowing few days, watching her mother and aunt being tortured and murdered, Cynthia Ann was integrated into and became a member of the tribe. Years later, she was "rescued;" by then she no longer spoke English and her habits and tastes were deeply Comanche. She cried daily to return to her two sons. One of those sons was Quanah, who later became the leader of the Comanches, both in the last throes of resistance to white subjugation and invasion, and in their assimilation into the white conquerers' culture.

That story line is interesting but what is best, and most pervasive throughout the narrative, is the story of the Comanche tribe. The Comanches had successfully repelled invasive efforts by the Mexicans and, later, the Texans. Their territory, the high plains and canyons of Texas and Oklahoma, lands of tall grasses and huge Buffalo herds, seemed impenetrable, largely because of their effective war tactics. Gwynne describes this bellicose tribe with respect and compassion, but he also tells the truth about their culture. They were warriors. They were talented and wise warriors, especially on horseback, but they were also brutal and unsentimental warriors. Of course, their murderous tendencies fed their reputation among white settlers and fueled the fear and hatred that eventually culminated in the near extermination of the Comanches. The subjugation was no small achievement and, without the development of repeating firearms, would likely not have succeeded.

The book ends with a couple of chapters truly about Quanah as he demanded faithful negotiations from the U.S. government and fair compensation for the lands his people were relinquishing and, later, as he assimilated and integrated into the newly developing frontier culture. An amazing warrior, he was also an excellent negotiator and representative of the south plains tribes. He was charming and politically savvy. But in the end, he was a native American up against a juggernaut that was the white invaders and their belief in manifest destiny. ( )
1 vote EBT1002 | Sep 25, 2016 |
I feel I should warn other potential readers: only the last 3 chapters are about Quanah Parker (despite his prominent picture on the book jacket - and his inclusion in the title). For this reason (and other nit-picks about the writing), I am struggling for a description of this book that is not excessively snarky.

Fans of good ole’ Cowboys-and-Indians shoot-em-ups, like Larry McMurtry’s novels, will probably find this to be an enthralling read.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Every American should read this book. Every American should read this book! Now remember my theory (I guess its the lawyer in me) -- just because it is in print doesn't make it all gospel, but overall this appears to be an accurate and comprehensive history of American Indian Policy as it was applied to the Plains Indians. It is also presented in such a way that we can digest the truth, as hard as it is to face. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Read this for a Non-Fiction Library Book Group. Very informative a lot of information on Indian Raids of white settlers, and other Indian Tribes and the ensuing conflicts that began to arise from the Manifest Destiny of the United States and the many ways they tried to deal with the Native Americans. Plenty of history is given around the dealings of the Indian Issue what occurrences pushed the eventual takeover and forced assimilation into the white culture. A key story to the book is the raid on the Parker Family Fort which lead to the death of all but two women and two children one Cynthia Ann Parker would become a wife of a Comanche Chief and would give birth to another Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. She is also a lead character in the John Wayne film the Searchers. Great history of the Comanche and how they became such a powerful tribe in American History. Well researched and takes the time to give many sides to this part of history without laying blame on one side or the other. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
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

★★★ ½

As this book states, it’s about the rise and fall of the Comanche Indian Tribe in the United States. But it was about so much more, it was about the struggle between two races and the many battles the erupted over it, especially in the Texas area in the mid to late 1800s. It was a brutal time in history and this book goes into all the gory details, which means if you aren’t into or can’t handle the overly graphic gore, this may be a book to skip or at least a lot of skimming through the book.

This book personally hit me because on my mother’s side, half is from Texas – for many generations – and the other half? Native American. So it was interesting for me to see both sides to my very only family. And even more my great-great grandfather is the founder of Comanche, Oklahoma – named specifically for his passion for the tribe and their lives. So perhaps this book kept my interest even further thanks to what I feel is my very personal connection to these people.

On a non-personal level I found this to be an interesting and well-researched history. As the author points out, much of it is from first-hand accounts because the Native American tribes weren’t always big on record keeping, which was fine with me – it gave it a more personal feeling. There are A LOT of battles mentioned and at times they just started sounding like the same thing over and over and over again, making me lose interest at times. And while the subtitle includes Quanah Parker in it, it seems like he’s rarely mentioned until the last part of the book, along with his famous mother – Cynthia Parker. I wish the Parker family was focused on a bit more but I feel that the author did the best he could with so little resources to go with on the subject. Overall a good, educational book on an important part of American history.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (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.
--Cormac McCarthy
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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