Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
I read a handful of non-fiction books each year. I usually love the premise, start the book, and find the flow lacking. The wording becomes overly dense, the author too far up their own ass, content in their mastery of the content to care if they are a compelling author. Empire of the Summer Moon is one of those rare books that manages to keep the momentum going. S. C. Gwynne wraps the history of the Comanche people in with a narrative of Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed son, Quanah Parker – the Last Comanche Chief.
File this book under “Shit they should’ve taught me in high school, or college, or grad school, but didn’t, and I feel cheated”. Growing up in the midwest, I learned a little about Custer’s Last Stand, Lakota, and the executions in Mankato. When I say a little, I mean we kind of read about it and quickly moved on. The timeline really went – The Mayflower, the Iroquois Constitution, The Trail of Tears, Mankato and Custer, and a picture of Alcatraz a couple months later. In grad school I learned a little about Fort Snelling at Bdote.
The tale of Cynthia Ann Parker, her son Quanah, and the surrounding narrative of the Comanche Wars is brilliant and captivating. The intertwined history of the Colt revolver, Republic of Texas, and the backdrop of Spanish colonization through the old west make for a delightful read.
Easily one of the best books I read in 2019. I highly recommend checking it out.