S.C. Gwynne is the author of Hymns of the Republic and the New York Times bestsellers Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife.
This is a highly readable, but problematic, account of Cynthia Ann Parker, captured by the Comanche Indians at age nine, and her son Quanah Parker, who grew up to become the most famous of all Comanche chiefs. Gwynne (The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of the BCCI) proves adept at using primary sources to illuminate the military history of the Comanche empire and the Texas frontier. He gives good attention to John Coffee Hays and the Texas Rangers, and to Gen. Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, whom Gwynne describes as the "Anti-Custer." Yet this work is marred by a surprising insensitivity, with frequent references to Indian women as "squaws," and sparse information on Comanche individuals without any white heritage. VERDICT Readers wanting more biographical information on the Parkers should turn to Jo Ella Powell Exley's Frontier Blood: The Saga of the Parker Family, while those wishing more of a Comanche view should see Pekka Hamalainen's The Comanche Empire.. Despite its title, this work is at its best as a Texas-centric militaristic interpretation of the 19th-century Comanche wars of the southern Plains.-Nathan E. Bender, Laramie, WY Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Journalist Gwynne tracks one of the U.S.'s longest-running military conflicts in this gripping history of the war against the Comanche Indians on the high plains of Texas and Colorado. The Comanches stood for decades as the single most effective military force on the southern plains; their mastery of horseback warfare and their intimate knowledge of the trackless desert of the plains stymied the armies of Spain and Mexico, and blocked American westward expansion for 40 years. Gwynne's account orbits around Quanah Parker (ca. 1852-1911), the brilliant war chief whose resistance raged even as the Comanche, increasingly demoralized by the loss of the buffalo and the American military's policy of total annihilation, retreated into the reservation. Rigorously researched and evenhanded, the book paints both the Comanches and Americans in their glory and shame, bravery and savagery. The author's narrative prowess is marred only by his fondness for outdated anthropological terminology ("low barbarian," "premoral" culture). That aside, the book combines rich historical detail with a keen sense of adventure and of the humanity of its protagonists. (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
In Empire of the Summer Moon, Sam Swynne has given us a rich, vividly detailed rendering of an important era in our history and of two great men, Quanah Parker and Ranald Slidel Mackenzie, whose struggles did much to define it.