Empire of the Summer Moon : Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, Paperback

Empire of the Summer Moon : Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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. 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 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.

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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of the Americas
  • ISBN: 9781849017039



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I have long been a fan of western literature and my reading has often brought me to the Staked Plains of Texas, the Comanche and, in particular, the fabled myths of Cynthia Parker and her son Quanah. In the Pulitzer nominated Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne we can now read the facts that are the core to the myth that surround both these places and people. Empire of the Summer Moon is the story of the half-breed Comanche who was a fierce warrior, the son of the famous captive Cynthia Parker, who became known as the “white squaw’ when it became clear that she had no interest in returning to her white roots preferring instead the life of a wild Comanche. This book also defines the end of a civilization as the life of the nomad North American Indian, in this case the Comanche is brought to a close.The Comanche were the most feared tribe of the North American plains, and their depredations were extreme and exceedingly cruel, but they were making a last stand trying to stem the white immigration that was pushing them slowly off their land and taking away their way of life.The author clearly lays out both sides of this conflict and does so with a complete lack of sentimentality, he sticks to the facts and the story unfolds in a direct, understandable fashion. When the government steals from, and breaks promises made to the Indians, it is so noted. Also he makes no excuses for the cruel tortures the Indian inflict upon their captives, and at times this unflinching look is very difficult to read about.Empire of the Summer Moon is a fantastic book, one I literally couldn’t put it down. Top notch writing makes this epic narrative of how the Texas frontier was settled both an exciting and engaging read. Empire of the Summer Moon is a book that any fan of western fiction would find a great read.

Also by S. C. Gwynne