Tim's Reviews > Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne
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's review
Jul 27, 2012

it was amazing

Every now and then one runs across an historical non-fiction book that is breathtakingly enlightening.

Commancheria - the millions of acres of treeless plains encompassing northern Mexico to present day Nebraska, the land of the 5 principal bands of the Commanches, a culture centuries behind the development of the eastern Indian tribes, and intertwined with the buffalo herds. Commancheria - a region so forcefully held by the Commanches that the westward tide of Anglo-Saxon expansion was held at a standstill for nearly 30 years at the 98th meridian. The Commanches drove out other indian tribes - Apaches clear into New Mexico, Cheyenne to the north, and chose to be at war with eastern Indians and whites alike. They were close to the last of the major plains indian groups to surrender, and one group that faded even further under reservation life - not interested in adapting to the dominating culture.

The author does not spare the reader details of the warlike nature of these people, nor does he condemn or romanticize the tragedy from hindsight. No quarter was asked by this group, nor any given, and S.C. Gwynne admirably refrains from heavy handed opining on the rights and wrongs of the long-running conflict.

In that sense, this book is refreshing for its candidness, lack of sugar coating, and its scope - fitting in the broad clash of European and Native American cultures which we are familiar with, but tying it into the Texan/American collision as well as inter-tribal warfare. He details the emergence of the Texas Rangers and why, the vacuum created by the civil war, the individual of Quanah Parker, who was the son of an abducted white woman and a band leader of the Commanches, tactics of warfare, the buffalo hunters who perhaps killed off the hopes of any Commanche band to live even on a restricted basis as they had in the past.

An excellent read of the Southwest plains history of the US.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 27, 2012 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Scott Barrentine This book wasn't fiction. It is footnoted from first hand accounts of people who were there during this period of time.

message 2: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Scott wrote: "This book wasn't fiction. It is footnoted from first hand accounts of people who were there during this period of time."

Thanks, you're right. I changed the wording to "non-fiction"

Antonia Finally a positive review from someone not caught up in the PC trap, who didn't put the book down after page 10 and then review it, claiming it to be racist. Oh puhleeez...Thank you. I give the book 5+ stars.

message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert DeSio Antonio Hall. My thoughts exactly. People who are PC throw out the race card reflexively. This book is a great read because it is incredibly interesting and accurate.

Antonia I think one needs to read this story keeping in mind the social views of the period--i.e. Native Americans were a threat and an encroachment on land obviously ordained by God to be the sole province of the Caucasian. Racism run rampant in the West--and I don't blame the tribes for reacting in a violent way.

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