Reading Recommendations: Empire of the Summer Moon - Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, S.C. Gwynne
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 skilled 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.
Meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and thrillingly told, this one is a "must". Our area figures into these historic early days in this book and many others having to do with early Texas history.
Every Last One, a novel, Anna Quindlen
Mary Beth Latham has built her life around her family, around caring for her three teenage children and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a woman's love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects one human being to another. Ultimately, Every Last One is a novel about facing one last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel and about living a life we never dreamed we'd have to live, but find ourselves brave enough to try.
See you at Rylander!