Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

85%

11 Critic Reviews

A welcome contribution to the history of Texas, Westward expansion and Native America.
-Kirkus

Synopsis


In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s 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 readers may be more familiar with the tribal 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. 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 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.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the "White Squaw" who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.
 

About S. C. Gwynne

See more books from this Author
Sam Gwynne is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared extensively in Time, for which he worked as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor from 1988 to 2000, and in Texas Monthly, where he was executive editor. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, and California Magazine. His previous book Outlaw Bank (coauthored with Jonathan Beaty) detailed the rise and fall of the corrupt global bank BCCI. He attended Princeton and Johns Hopkins and lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Katie and daughter Maisie.
 
Published May 5, 2010 by Scribner. 396 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Sep 04 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Empire of the Summer Moon
All: 11 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 28 2010

A welcome contribution to the history of Texas, Westward expansion and Native America.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Feb 01 2010

...the book combines rich historical detail with a keen sense of adventure and of the humanity of its protagonists.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by David Holahan on Jun 11 2010

Parker and Charles Goodnight would become good friends. The adjective “astonishing” doesn’t do such stories justice.

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Dallas News

Good
Reviewed by Dale Walker on May 30 2010

Empire of the Summer Moon is a skillfully told, brutally truthful, history.

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Open Letters Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue on Jan 25 2013

In telling the story of Quanah Parker, Gwynne has found the perfect focal point from which to expand in all directions with other stories.

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Historical Novel Society

Excellent
Reviewed by John Kachuba on Feb 01 2012

Full of colorful historical characters, savage battles, and personal tales of desperation and disaster, Gwynne’s boo...is an important addition to the body of Native American history and an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Steve Fiffer on Jan 25 2013

Gwynne...details the atrocities perpetrated by each side in living color; to do otherwise would be dishonest.

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Austin Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Ed Baker on Oct 01 2010

Even if you take the spotty and secondhand historical sources...as gospel fact, Gwynne gives insufficient reason to conclude that the Comanche tribe formed an empire.

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Buffalo Rising

Excellent
Reviewed by Carol Ann Strahl on Nov 28 2010

Gwynne's book is a remarkable account of two cultures meeting head-on and of two people who participated in a turbulent chapter of our American history.

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News Review.

Excellent
Reviewed by Jaime O'Neill on Jul 15 2010

...there’s a compelling human narrative that reads like a really good novel. Except that it’s all true.

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TCPalm / AP

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Vanatta on Aug 16 2010

S.C. Gwynne weaves an excellent, detailed, and entertaining narrative that diligently presents the perspectives of both the Comanches and the Whites with no apparent bias.

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Reader Rating for Empire of the Summer Moon
87%

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