Empire of the Summer Moon
S. C. Gwynne
Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History [
On Sale: May 10, 2011
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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
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.
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