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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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1,447765,181 (4)152
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: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne (2010)

  1. 10
    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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» See also 152 mentions

English (75)  Spanish (1)  All (76)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
In this historical account, the Comanches kidnapped nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker, who grew to love her captors and stayed with them until she was captured by Texas Rangers in 1860.
  mcmlsbookbutler | May 11, 2017 |
As a Canadian, I knew essentially nothing of the US wars with the Indians. This book has given me some understnding of that fraught relationship. It was not simple, as is shown by the life of Quanah Parker, nor one-sided. The book is extrordinarily well written and essentially free of sentimentality or moralizing. Not much that is morally edifying shows on the part of either white or Comanche as they both committed to a win-lose, life or death struggle. Great read. ( )
  RobertP | Apr 11, 2017 |
An interesting take--this book portrays the Comanches as the warrior tribe they likely were, but also shows how Quanah led his tribe to adapt once it became clear there was no other alternative. An interesting read. ( )
  TDWolsey | Dec 8, 2016 |
The long title and subtitle are somewhat misleading: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. The Comanches weren't an empire and really not a tribe; rather, they were a group of bands with shifting leadership - anyone who could pull together a raiding party could be a chief. The book really isn't about Quanah Parker, either, until the last few chapters.

The title sounds a lot like an article in Texas Monthly magazine. That's not all that surprising, because author S. C. Gwynne has been with that magazine since 2000, and was with Time Magazine for twelve years before that. The book had the feel of a number of magazine articles being grouped together, in that its structure was not always linear, but involved a lot of repetition and backtracking.

Gwynne is a journalist, not a historian, and I was bothered that the book seemed ethnocentric. Still, I learned a lot about the Comanches, including Quanah Parker and his mother Cynthia Ann Parker; those who fought them, particularly Sul Ross, Ranald Mackenzie, and Jack Hays; and other captives, such as Herman Lehmann and Rachel Parker Plummer. I'm glad I read the book, but I am not sure I would recommend it to others.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Nov 5, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Empire of the Summer Moon is a skillfully told, brutally truthful, history.


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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
S. C. Gwynneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gwynne, S. C.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Gwynne, S. C.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Gwynne, S. C.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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