Empire of the Summer Moon - S. C. Gwynne

Empire of the Summer Moon

By S. C. Gwynne

  • Release Date: 2010-05-25
  • Genre: History
Score: 4.5
From 923 Ratings


Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
This stunning historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West was a major New York Times bestseller.

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.

S. C. Gwynne’s 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 entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: 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. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.

The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier 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. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.


  • Rich History

    By CMMH1990
    Gwynne strikes a perfect balance between the historical and emotional sides of the fighting between Comanche Indians and American settlers. This book is well-detailed but still moves fast enough to keep the reader engaged. Also, his writing does not aim to convince the reader that one side was right and the other was wrong. Rather, he unbiasedly describes all facets of the conflict, showing the reader that it cannot be boiled down to the simple good vs evil battle that we were taught in history class. Anyone living in Texas should try to give this a read.
  • Stunning

    By Smackanally
    Great read. Leaves you loving and hating everyone involved. Sheds light on parts of Native American history I never knew existed.
  • Excellent!

    By MichaelFL
    This book reminds me of Texas history class growing up in Levelland in the 50’s and 60’s.
  • Comanche Moon

    By boots saddle
    Excellent history of the old west, but a little ponderous.
  • A great read for history of the American West

    By Fellafromdrippin
    A great read because of it veracity and straight to the heart of the matter. A page turner that keeps the reader engaged from the moment you begin reading this tale of Quanah Parker and the Comanches. A story too of the continuous attempts and success of the federal government to steal the lands of the Native Americans. The instructive story here is that dependence on the government leads to a shadow life of what is really the full life of a truly free person.
  • Straight History with Facts

    By Azkid70
    Good read I recommend this for any history buff
  • Empire of the Summer Moon

    By ViviMouseDman
    Terrific, interesting, entertaining! Could not put it down! Page after page, it just was one of the most interesting historic books I have ever read
  • Empire of the summer moon

    By tpc david
    I tell my new wannabe texans a must read. Stopped by the old Fort Parker in Mexia ,Texas many times on the way home to Dallas from my grandparents over 50 years ago.
  • Incredible

    By Silentdriver78
    This is the best book I have ever read. That is all.
  • Action-packed

    By malkavlad
    "Empire" is a shocking and visceral read, that explores a people that were at once beautiful and brutal. Parker's people were some of the most tactically fit warriors for their environment and, much to the chagrin of their enemies, refused to view others as fully human. As such had no problem viciously torturing any men, women, and children they came across. Lending a powerful narrative to an incredibly well researched historical account, S.C. Gwynne rarely cuts away from the gory elements.