Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Camanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Camanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne wasn't what I expected when I bought it though I'm not sure what I expected. Gwynne appears to try to tell the history fairly, but how fair can a story be when the documentation of the other side is often biased and the documentation on the other side is scarce? Gwynne certainly pulled me into this well written story with visceral details about the interactions between the Comanches and the settlers as well as the landscape. He has no qualms talking about the settlers taking the land, but like so many books written by oppressors seems to marvel that people will kill to keep the land they've inhabited for generations and will reject invaders telling them how to live their lives. Empire of the Summer Moon paints a picture that feeds into stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples and relies heavily on documentation by the "white man" while excusing this by saying the Comanches didn't keep records. Having read An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States before reading Empire of the Summer Moon, I couldn't help but notice how differently the books presented the histories of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Europeans who "settled" the United States. Still, I found Empire of the Summer Moon engaging, informative, and interesting as well as bold and graphic.