Empire of the Summer Moon

Empire of the Summer Moon Summary

*Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize andthe National Book Critics Circle Award*
*A New York TimesNotable Book*
*Winner of the Texas Book Award and theOklahoma Book Award*

This New York Times bestseller and stunning historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West “is nothing short of a revelation…will leave dust and blood on your jeans” (The New York Times Book Review).

Empire of the Summer Moonspans 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 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 backwardby Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands.

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, and the amazing story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Hailed by critics, S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moonannounces him as a major new writer of American history.

Book Reviews


If I could give it less than one star I would.1 star

This book is a) full of historic inaccuracies, b) is written as if in a vacuum perpetuating the idea of lack of Indian civilization focusing on the atrofies committed *even as* those same atrocities were being committed by white slave owners on blacks in the south c) this book discusses torture as something modern boys find interestingness but grow out of. If you need to revisit a 1950s version of the story of the American West where the whites are coming in to civilize the primitive backward natives this book is for you. If you are interested in understanding more about the rich history with a more nuanced and less white centric view I’d give this a skip. I wish I could get a refund on purchasing this book.15


Extremely well written.5 star

Wonderful book , incredibly glad I read it.55


Compelling read4 star

Incredibly detailed and compelling account. Well written and informative.45


Unbelievable book5 star

Gwynne captured so much in this book and I wish it was part of any school curriculum. His writing is impeccable with unbiased truth that allows you to understand how hard all of our ancestors had to work so that we could have it so easy. The appreciation I gained for Native American culture along with American culture through his words has put me on a never ending journey to learn all I can about the United States and how lucky I am to be here.55


Excellent. Fascinating5 star

I highly recommend this.55


Great read5 star

Love every minute of this.55


History Lesson3 star

Wow! What a difference in lifestyles and in simple cultural way of life and upbringing. Hunter and gatherer Nomads vs Farmers. Pretty obvious to see the upcoming clash simply due to growth of Americas due to its manifest destiny. Expansion westward….. I’ve learned more from books, audiobooks and Podcasts than I ever did in public school. Amazing read.35

Steamboat Mark

Amazing5 star

I thoroughly enjoyed this magnificent book. Though saddening, it is a well written account of the Indian Tribes of Texas and the Plains, and their relationship with the White Man. It will provide a much better understanding of what life was like in the 1800’s for the most feared Comanche Indians and the endless encounters with their competitors.55


A Great History Book!5 star

This is a great book of Native American and South Plains history. I’ve had this book for 10 years and I’ve read it three times. Always finding it more interesting each time. It’s now my fallback book. My Grandmother had four older half brothers (Parkers) that were Grandson's of Quanah Parker.55


Nonstop Read5 star

If you have ever spent any time in the American West, this book will capture your imagination. Pure pleasure to read this wonderful book.55

Other Books by S. C. Gwynne

Rebel Yell


Rebel Yell
4.5     327
Hymns of the Republic


Hymns of the Republic
4.5     126
The Perfect Pass


The Perfect Pass
4.5     65

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