The fascinating stories of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah Parker bookend an endless recounting of battle after battle, in depth tactics (stressed again...moreThe fascinating stories of Cynthia Ann Parker and Quanah Parker bookend an endless recounting of battle after battle, in depth tactics (stressed again and again - once is interesting, 10 times, not so much) and all. In finally getting to the last stage of Quanah's life, a small portion of the book, some of the anecdotes have justifications that they are "worth noting" - of course they are, they are the most interesting parts! I do think that Gwynne stresses quite well the blow that reservation life was to the Indians and how their way of life disappeared. There were other personalities sprinkled throughout, but I feel like I just read one long recounting of a century of battles rather than the stories of people I was hoping for. Not recommended.
An addendum on the racist language/unbalanced nature of the book that other reviewers mention: I had interpreted Gwynne's words as how white people regarded Native Americans, but I also know that I wasn't always able to give 100% of my attention while reading through this so I could very well have misinterpreted or be remembering wrong.
I don't think the book as a whole is skewed completely against Native Americans as some make it out to be, it certainly illustrates how cruel, stupid and racist many of the white people were - especially in the retelling of Cynthia Ann's story. Gwynne stresses again and again how many of the supposed (and reported as such) incredible victories of white forces against Native Americans ended with them limping home, lucky to even be alive.
At the same time, I did often wonder about the veracity of many of the accounts given the truth in the criticism that this seems to be told mainly from white sources. What else was completely false in the accounts he used or colored by outright racism? I think Gwynne did a great job telling the stories of both Cynthia and Quanah, as well as revealing the true stories behind many of the battles rather than what had been reported. At the same time, the Comanches really are made out to be a marauding, bloodthirsty band that killed and raped and plundered just for the joy of it (The book is also full of many forces of Caucasians that love and pointedly seek to kill Indians.). Truth or racism? My own apparent "noble savage" complex made that stuff tough to swallow. I do find myself wishing there was more actual Comanche voices and accounts in the book.(less)