Book Review: Empire 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

In the desolate plains area of west Texas, a boy who's mother was Nautdah or Cynthia Ann Parker and his father was Pete Nocona, grew up to become a powerful Comanche chief. From the mid 1700's until about 1850 the Comanche's ruled the southern plains. They were greatly feared by both the Spanish and white settler's that came to inhabit Texas. It would be a long battle between the Comanche's and the white military. At the end of the bitter war the Comanche's would be faced with living on land that was not "fit" for white settlers, and eating foods that were not palatable for any human. But, for a time, the Comanche's had been the most powerful Indian tribe in American History.

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Paperback $8.00
Kindle $9.99

Authors site:

Link for a review from Dallas Morning News:

Empire of the Summer Moon was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for General Non-Fiction 2011
And a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 2011
Winner of Texas Book Award and Oklahoma Book Award

Published by Scribner Reprint May 2011
Non-Fiction/Texas History/Native American History/The Old West
384 pages

Quanah Parker was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, that was captured by Comanche Indians at the Parker Fort located in central Texas in 1836 when she was 9 years old. The Comanche's adopted her, and when she grew older her husband was Peta Nocona a Comanche chief, they had 3 children. Quanah was Cynthia's oldest child. Quanah would also become a chief.
The author does not just tell the story of Quanah Parker and Cynthia Ann Parker.
We are given a dramatic kaleidoscope of Texas; from the buffalo that ate the prairie grass, to the various Indian battles in Texas, other Indian tribes and how they were in relation to the Comanche's, the Texas settler's that came to Texas to grasp hold of free land, the life of the plains Indians, the introduction of the horse to the plains Indians, the history of the Texas Rangers, and the cattle business in Texas.

"They came from the high country, in the place we now call Wyoming, above the headwaters of the Arkansas River. They called themselves "Nermernuh," which in their Shoshone language meant, simply, "People." They were of the mountains: short, dark-skinned, and barrel-chested. They were descendants of the primitive hunters who had crossed the land bridge from Asia to America in successive migrations between 11,000 and 5,000 BC, and in the millennia that followed they had scarcely advanced at all." page 27

"Thus positioned, a Comanche warrior could loose twenty arrows in the time it took a soldier to load and fire one round from his musket; each of those arrows could kill a man at thirty yards." page 33

"One thinks of Cynthia Ann on the immensity of the plains, a small figure in buckskin bending to her chores by a diamond-clear stream. It is late autumn, the end of warring and buffalo hunting. Above her looms a single cottonwood tree, gone bright yellow in the season, its leaves and branches framing a deep blue sky. Maybe she lifts her head to see the children and dogs playing in the prairie grass and, beyond them, the coils of smoke rising in to the gathering twilight from a hundred lodge fires. And maybe she thinks, just for a moment, that all is right in the world." page 193

Photograph taken by me at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco
I loved this book! I feel it is one of the best non-fiction books I've read.
I loved reading about my home state.
I loved reading about people that were not depicted in order to persuade the reader as either good or bad. The author did not entangle himself in the criticism of whether the people white or Native American were good or evil. He left those feelings to the reader.
There is much, much, much research that went in to the writing of this book. I could tell that the writer has a passion for Texas history. His passion is contagious!
The characters come alive off of the white pages written in dull black ink.
At times it did not "feel" as if it was a non-fiction book, but more of a literary novel that has swept the reader away with its tenacity.
Kit Carson, Sam Houston, Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, the Texas Rangers, the weighty Spanish Conquistador's, The Parker family, Peta Nocona, Charles Goodnight, John Coffee Hays, and Cynthia, Quanah, Peanut, and Prairie Flower. These people were each described in such vividness, that I easily pictured them in my mind, and I swear I could almost smell them!
This is an awesome book and would make a great summer read!
I feel it should be required reading in school for American History. 
Texas Ranger Museum in Waco
Blissful Reading!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I accidentally, like a dummy, deleted this comment and am so sorry I did. Carol if you visit back please kindly leave another comment.
    Thank you.


Post a Comment