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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… (2010)

by S. C. Gwynne

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1,699856,063 (4.01)158
  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
    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown (Cecrow)
  3. 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 84 (next | show all)
This was an excellent, unbiased history of the Comanche Indians.

It particularly shines a light on one of the last chiefs of the Comanche, Quanah Parker. Quanah was the oldest child of a white woman who was taken captive by the Comanches and a Comanche chief. Cynthia Ann Parker was abducted in 1836 when she was only 10 years old. She was adopted by a Comanche family and then married Peta Nacona with whom she had three children. Several times after her marriage people tried to buy her freedom but she did not want to go. In 1860 a small band of Texas Rangers came across Peta Nacona's village. Nacona was killed and Parker and her infant daughter were recaptured by the Rangers. Quanah and his younger brother managed to evade capture. This episode made Quanah very bitter towards the whites and he spent the next 15 years conducting raids against the whites. In 1875, with his people facing starvation because buffalo hunters were decimating the creatures that the Comanches used as their main source of food, Quanah was finally persuaded to take his people into the reservation in Oklahoma. Quanah became quite the important man on the reservation, even meeting President Teddy Roosevelt several times.

I became aware of this book when we spent a few days in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. It was there that the last battle between the whites and the Comanches took place as it was where the Indians wintered. Having been in that area that the Comanches ruled for centuries I feel quite sorry for them being restricted to a barren plain reservation. On the other hand the Comanches were the most bloodthirsty Indians on the plains; they had always been warriors even before the whites came to their land. I used to think that the reason there were no real wars between the whites and the Indians in Canada was because our representatives dealt more fairly with the tribes. Now I think that they just weren't as warlike as the American tribes. Certainly this book shows many attempts were made to settle matters without bloodshed but the Comanches broke treaties almost as soon as they were written. ( )
  gypsysmom | Sep 16, 2018 |
Outstanding read. ( )
  dele2451 | Jul 22, 2018 |
Meh. ( )
  Broadus | Jul 3, 2018 |
Not knowing much detail of this period of regional US history, I can't attest authoritatively to the accuracy of Empire of the Summer Moon but it feels like a very well researched work. Gwynne tells the stories of both the plains Indians and the white settlers in both a compassionate and critical manner. There is much, sometimes an amazing amount of, detail about the lives on boths sides in the southern great plains and learning the realities of what spawned the American Cowboys and Indians mythos filled a big gap in my historical knowledge.

Gwynne tries to engage the reader in the history he is relating by tying everything to personages of the time. There are some incredible characters that lived through and shaped the period so he meets with some success if for no other reason than that he is telling fascinating stories. He falls short though in that the narrative of the book feels incoherent and even haphazard at times. He hops from person to person, sometimes doubling back without any clear motivation (it certainly isn't to maintain a linear account: he frequently jumps back and forth through large periods of time making the reader pay close attention to dates in order to place events correctly).

The title belies the rather strong lack of focus in the book. While Gwynne does discuss the "rise" of the Comanches, it feels incidental to the story of the Mexcican, Spanish, and Apaches. Maybe 15% or of the book has any focus at all on Quanah Parker.

On the whole, I'm glad I read this book, but I found the meandering treatment of the topic frustrating and confusing. I wish Gwynne had stuck to a more traditional format, I think it would have held together better. ( )
  dan4mayor | Jun 28, 2018 |
This is a fabulous book. I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this in years. The history of plains Indians, the Spanish in Mexico, Texans, and people of the United States makes for fascinating reading, and the author's style makes it all the more enjoyable. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Gwynne's books, and more about Native American history. ( )
  baobab | May 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (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
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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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