Empire of the Summer Moon – Book Review

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prior to reading Empire of the Summer Moon, the only book I’d ever read on the subject of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker was the historical fiction novel Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson. Her novel piqued my interest in the Parker family and the demise of the Comanche tribe. Over the years, I’d gathered what little information I could find, and one year made a pilgrimage to Fort Sill to visit the resting place of Quanah, his mother Cynthia Ann, and Quanah’s sister Topsana (Prairie Flower).

Cynthia Ann Parker and Prairie Flower at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

When a friend of mine recommended Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, I was delighted to find such an extensively researched account of the Comanche history and how they became North America’s most powerful tribe. Gwynne presents a complete panorama of the tribe – from their unmatched skills as horsemen to their ruthless treatment of their enemies. The Comanche were both “notorious and brutal killers, [yet] there existed a deep and abiding tenderness. Perhaps that should be obvious, since they were, after all, human beings.” Gwynne’s unbiased and unretouched portrait of what was real and true is neither a judgment against or espousal of the Comanche. Rather, it is an honest, dogged look into the rise and fall of a fascinating people.

Quanah Parker at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

I highly recommend this book to any historian – amateur or otherwise – who is interested in the history of America’s native tribes.

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