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Empire of the Summer Moon | [S. C. Gwynne]

Empire of the Summer Moon

Few people realize that the Comanche Indians were the greatest warring tribe in American history. Their 40-year battle with settlers held up the development of the new nation. Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the rise and fall of this fierce, powerful, and proud tribe, and begins in 1836 with the kidnapping of a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower blue eyes named Cynthia Ann Parker.
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Publisher's Summary

Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Few people realize that the Comanche Indians were the greatest warring tribe in American history. Their 40-year battle with settlers held up the development of the new nation. Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the rise and fall of this fierce, powerful, and proud tribe, and begins in 1836 with the kidnapping of a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower blue eyes named Cynthia Ann Parker. She grew to love her captors and eventually became famous as the "White Squaw." She married a powerful Comanche chief, and their son, Quanah, became a warrior who was never defeated and whose bravery and military brilliance in the Texas panhandle made him a legend as one of the greatest of the Plains Indian chiefs.

In this vivid piece of writing, S. C. Gwynne describes in sometimes brutal detail the savagery of both whites and Comanches and, despite the distance of time, demonstrates how truly shocking these events were, juxtaposed against the haunting story of an unforgettable figure of a woman caught between two worlds.

©2010 S.C. Gwynne (P)2010 Tantor

What the Critics Say

“Rigorously researched and evenhanded, the book paints both the Comanches and Americans in their glory and shame, bravery and savagery.” (Publishers Weekly)

"In Empire of the Summer Moon, Sam Swynne has given us a rich, vividly detailed rendering of an important era in our history and of two great men, Quanah Parker and Ranald Slidel Mackenzie, whose struggles did much to define it." (Larry McMurtry)

“Transcendent . . . Empire of the Summer Moon is nothing short of a revelation . . . will leave dust and blood on your jeans.” (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    John Hot Springs, AR, United States 11-23-10
    John Hot Springs, AR, United States 11-23-10
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    "Quannah Parker"

    This was a really good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it was billed as a story of Quannah Parker of the Comanche, it took in quite a bit of history of all the Plains Indians. Very detailed sotries if living conditions for these native Americans and the changes they experienced at the hands of the white man. I wouldl endorse it for anyone who wishes to study the culture of the Plains Indians. Quannah's story occupied maybe the last quarter of the book. It was easily supported by other resources I have read about Quannah. A fascinating story!

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Boston, MA, United States 01-01-11
    Richard Boston, MA, United States 01-01-11 Member Since 2007
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    "When a great book and a great reader come together"

    An audible book will beat the written book...most of the time...in my book...

    Quanah Parker? Never heard of him till this book. Shame on American history books...and American public schools...by far the most interesting and heavy duty of ALL the native Americans I've heard about from the Wild West...and the book and reader tell a story you can't put down...that is to say can't put down your headset.

    The second best (after "Wolf Hall") reading I've heard...out of several hundred. Knocked me out.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 09-13-10
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 09-13-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Enjoyable, but I don't get the high rating"

    I'm usually a patient audience. I must say though that I started to get a bit bored with the narrative here. Great information, well-presented, etc. but after a while I started glazing over with "this group attacked that group, scalping 20 warriors/soldiers, etc. etc. It just got a bit repetitive and I lost some patience with it. A very good book---maybe should be a 4.0 rating, but when I purchased it, I think it was a 4.4 or something like that. Enjoyable, but I expected more based on the rating.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 03-02-12
    David Houston, TX, United States 03-02-12 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Evocation of landscape"

    Other reviewers have said most of what needs to be said about this often fascinating book. The era of the plains Indian and the American incursion which brought it to an end is incredibly rich material, and Gwynne has brought it to life with a wealth of telling detail.

    I would like to add that one of the great strengths of the book is that it brings the landscape itself to life as a character in the narrative. This sense of place as a central character adds tremendously to our understanding of both the extraordinary prowess and resilience of the Comanche and the daunting obstacles which faced settlers during their gradual but inexorable occupation of the mid-section of the country. Having spent a year in Amarillo and traveled on horseback in Palo Duro Canyon, I was deeply impressed by how well the author captured the almost malevolent expanse and elemental grandeur of the plains. Beautifully done.

    I assume that the print version of the book includes maps, and I strongly suggest that listeners would best enjoy the listen if they find some on the internet keep them close at hand.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Fletcher, OK, United States 06-17-11
    Debra Fletcher, OK, United States 06-17-11 Member Since 2010

    crystalbluern

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    "History comes alive"

    I am living in the area around Fort Sill, and this really was an interesting tale about the history of the area and great plains Indians. I actually took a tour of Quannah Parker's STAR HOUSE where it has been moved to a little historical area at Cache, Oklahoma. The narrator is easy to follow and kept my interest.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta Herald, CA, United States 09-06-11
    Roberta Herald, CA, United States 09-06-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Explains a lot about Texas"

    Texas is an undiscovered country for most of the rest of the country. I remember visiting Texas, from California, and being amazed at the culture, different from any I was used to. I have lived in many states in my life, but Texas stands out. The music was all about Texas. The stories they told were all about the glories of Texas. I wondered how this state came to be so different from others. Now it makes a bit more sense.
    This book is about the birth of Texas. It is about the Indians of the prairies, about the early Texas Rangers, and about the pioneers. It is about the violence that permeated the area and its people. It is the mythology of the current Texans.
    The reader makes the story come alive. Through massacre after massacre, he helped keep the killers straight in my mind.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Graham Radford, VA, United States 11-12-10
    Graham Radford, VA, United States 11-12-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Brings the old West to life.."

    I have stood before many museum exhibits about the Indians and seen a zillion artifacts, but until I read this book I never really had much of a sense of what life was like for either the Indians, the settlers, or the soldiers. One cannot help but admire the Plains Indians for their bravery and skill while at the same time being repelled by their savagery. Although we may now feel some guilt and remorse about the expulsion of the Indians and their subsequent settlement onto reservations, it is now apparent to me that there was probably no other way. The Indians credo was kill, or be killed and they were not the least bit interested in assuming a law-abiding and agrarian lifestyle. Probably there was no other way to settle the west except by forcible means. All in all, this was a terrific book about an historic period that we all have heard in cursory bits and pieces and, for me at least, never heard a comprehensive story of the old Indian West to learn of its horror, torture and struggle. A great book that I would I would heartily recommend. Anyone who pines for the "good old days" just doesn't know their history!

    21 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 02-05-12
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 02-05-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Killer, Renegade, Great American"

    Empire of the Summer Moon is one of those rare books which deal with the Indian Wars with something approaching objectivity (true objectivity is impossible, of course). Early on in the book I worried first that it would be another litany of abuses perpetrated against the Indians. Then, I feared it might be a revisionist 'rah-rah cowboys' book. Happily, my fears on both counts were misplaced. This book presents a fair, if bloody and savage, picture of the Texas Plains in the 19h Century.

    Central to the book is Quanah Parker, a figure for whom the author clearly has a great deal of admiration. This admiration is infectious. I knew very little about Quanah Parker before reading this (although I thought I knew a fair amount!), and now I want to know more. Such an intriguing figure: brutal killer and fierce warrior, and yet kind, magnanimous and generous; an implacable freedom fighter who readily adopted white ways.

    This is a very intriguing--and sadly--neglected story. Recommended for anyone interested in American history.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 11-06-11
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 11-06-11 Member Since 2005
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    "A Great Western"

    S. C. Gwynne in Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the story of how the American West was opened from the perspective of the conflict between white settlers and Indians. The Comanches take center stage in his narrative, but the reader will find other tribes large and small appear. A subplot, which is very engaging, traces the story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah. Gwynne’s discussion of her ultimate death is heart rending. His descriptions of the plains, the buffalo hunts, the fighting prowess of the Indians and Calvary units bring the era to life. There were atrocities on both sides of the conflict and Gwynne approaches that issue evenly it seemed. This book has its faults, but it certainly will stand – in my library at least – alongside Burry My Heart at Wounded Knee. If you are a history buff, this book might fit the bill. If you like Westerns, this book will no doubt satisfy as well. If you are a Texan, there is a lot here to whet the appetite. The reading of David Drummond is simply a plus.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ellen abingdon, VA, United States 08-29-11
    ellen abingdon, VA, United States 08-29-11 Member Since 2007
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    "empire of the summer moon"

    great history of the commanchee and texas during the 1800's. terrific narration. If you are interested in all about early Indian rise and fall read this book. also a good look at the history of texas, the army, calvary and the rangers.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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