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  • Empire of the Summer Moon

  • Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches
  • By: S. C. Gwynne
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 15 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)

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Summary

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the 40-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all. 

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 is 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 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.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Comanches 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.

©2010 S.C. Gwynne (P)2020 W F Howes

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Racist and one-sided account

This book made me quite angry. It is seen too much from the point of view of the white Americans e.g. referring to the Comanche Indians as being backwards and barbarians and not really giving much insight into their beliefs etc. It talks about their cruelty which I assume is true e.g. taking captives as slaves (as civilised white people have never done that, have they?). However, it downplays the fact that the white people were knowingly engaged in genocide whilst the Indians were literally fighting for their own existence and that of their whole way of life. The accounts of the hunting down and killing of the Indians from the point of view of the whites fails to explain how frightening it must have been for the last few Indians.

7 people found this helpful

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Truly Epic

The Comanche story is truly epic, breathtaking, often harrowing, heartbreaking and exhilarating tale. It will open your eyes to the truly explosive violence and drama that occurred when a fierce stoneage culture of arguably the greatest horse riding warriors on earth collided head on with the unstoppable force of white "progress" in the last North American frontier. Brilliantly read by David Drummond.

1 person found this helpful

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When we were warriors!

Amazing insight into Indian history,culture . Totally blows that movie Indian stereotype clean out of the water!!

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Brilliant research

Absolutely fabulous book. Nothing held back. Learnt what actually went on in the old West.
Loved it so much bought a hard copy for myself and one for my brother . Narrator was first class, just the right tone of voice for the book. Wonderfully read. Thank you to author and Narrator.

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Brilliantly interesting and terribly sad

A subject i new very little about as i am Irish and everything i have learned has been through the medium of film which after listening to this is not particularly accurate. A fascinating story of native american history were a warlike tribe came to dominate all native americans due to the introduction of horses by the Spanish. Who went to war with white settlers who made treaties they broke and settled on more and more of their land till the broke and surrendered. Now we have the U.S.A. Capitalism strikes again.

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a moving story!/history of proud indigenous peo

Loved it, a moving story of struggle and hardship of a severely wronged indigenous people. Sad that so few lessons have been learnt by 'whites'

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Fascinating

So I actually read this book a few years ago when I picked it up at the airport while travelling back from NYC.

However it was so good that since using audible I have constantly looked for it and was so pleased when it was eventually released.

In my opinion this book is a must read for anyone who is interested in American Indians and the history of the last frontier, the American West.

The author is honest and gives a balanced view about both white Americans and American plains Indians. The descriptions of the open frontier and the fastness of empty land is just incredible.

The Comanches use of the horse and their way of life is truly worth reading about. That perfect equilibrium they had as humans with nature is something that we could all learn from today. They had no church, no elitism, leaders of the tribe where picked on merit not because of who their father was, they didn’t farm just lived off the once abundant buffaloes, they owned no property, never stayed in the same place for months or years on end and didn’t have to answer to a king or religious leader from far away. The life for the women was particularly hard though and they were given little standings within the tribe. However there at one with nature and the surroundings is something that really intrigues me and something I wish we could do more of today.

I highly recommend it.

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I expected to find something else...

...about the history of the Indian tribes native to America. This book was an education and informs as much about the white settler's motives as the natives reaction to them. It may help to explain a little of why America is the way it is today. Quanna is an incredible figure in history worth knowing.

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A truly fascinating tale!

I’ll keep this short and sweet and sum this books story up in one word... Brilliant!

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Fascnating, enjoyable and balanced book

Really enjoyed this, a gripping and moving experience from start to finish. I recommend having a map to hand if you're not familiar with American georgraphy.