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 and her mixed-blood son, Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Although listeners may be more familiar with the names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances 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. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.
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, and the arrival of the railroads - a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.
©2016 Simon & Schuster (P)2016 S. C. Gwynne
Overwhelming detail of total societal incompatibility. Abominable actions appear to be the only basis of human interaction. Eye opening and shockingly brutal.
Anyone from West Texas and the Plains should read this remarkable book of life in the Wild West. I grew up in Lubbock, camping at Roaring Springs and retreating Palo Duro and Blanco Canyons. I had heard of Quanah Parker and played cowboys and Indians,but this book far exceeded my expectations.
I've read a few books that focus on the Native American culture and the impact on the American West. I particularly enjoyed "The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend" written by Bob Drury, and Tom Clavin, and also Nathanial Philbrick's "The Last Stand", and "The Mayflower", each providing a glimpse into what Native Americans were up against, and the finality of their existence. This book provides an insight into the lives of one of if not the most feared tribes ever to grace the North American continent: The Comanches.
Plain and simply put, the Comanche nation was nasty! This is a band of natives that stopped at nothing when it came to war, whether they fought, captured, tortured, raped, scalped, or simply killed their opposition, they held nothing back. And they conducted these atrocities with fervor and zest which is far more extreme than any of their native cousins might have done. And the author doesn't hold back. Each detail is spelled out regardless of the victim, regardless of the situation, and without concern for a reader's queazy stomach. The nasty details are all provided as the historical significance of this great tribe unfolds.
The book feels a bit long in places though may be a result of the author's effort to include every generational anecdote from the early 1700's until their ultimate demise in the late 1870's. Little appears to be left out so the chapters are filled, and thus long(er) in spots. But the tiresome length is helped along with an easy to listen to narration which is evenly pitched, with perfect inflection and annunciation. David Drummond does an excellent job!
If you're looking for a book on Texas, and Oklahoma Native American history, this is the one for you. No details are left outs and you'll find each chapter full of historical significance you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
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