Get Your Free Audiobook

  • Empire of the Summer Moon

  • Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches
  • By: S. C. Gwynne
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 15 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (209 ratings)

Listen with a free trial

1 credit a month to use on any title, yours to keep (you’ll use your first credit on this title).
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
Access to exclusive deals and discounts.
$16.45 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $34.94

Buy Now for $34.94

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the 40-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all. 

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 is 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 listeners 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 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 backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Comanches 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.

S. C. Gwynne's account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative and, above all, thrillingly told.

©2010 S.C. Gwynne (P)2020 W F Howes

What listeners say about Empire of the Summer Moon

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    175
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    131
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    152
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Recommended

As an Australian woman this history is not my geographical history, but as a white woman with colonial blood, it is very close and real. This book broke my heart.

As a historical account, it is naturally factual. But it is lively and gripping. For some 16 hours I’ve wandered this desolate and gruesome world and I’m returning to the present world changed and shifted. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A raw glimpse into brutal endings and rebirth.

Well written and performed by a superb narrator, Highly recommended.

As an Australian, I had no idea regarding the history of the clashes with the North American Indian, other than movies. Be aware that this book stares directly into the empty eye sockets of totally unrestrained warfare without blinking.

No quarter was ever given for anyone involved; regardless whether they were combatants or not. Old men, children or women, there were very, very few exceptions and the outcome horrific and unimaginably painful. Prolonged torture (typically by the women) of the defeated and then the cruellest death possible was assured.

History is written by the survivors and hence I was half-expecting a slanted view, but the story is not trying to glorify any of this - instead it seems to try to stick to the brutal, verifiable facts. All parties are shown as equally guilty, and horrible atrocities occurred on all sides. But the book goes into length as to explain why events probably happened - from all viewpoints.

The book describes the great hardship and utter remorseless terror that must have been routine life during this time. And then the clash of cultures kicked off in earnest. In this age of comfort, smart phones, internet and widespread morbid obesity, the lives all of our ancestors led would shock all but the most hardened.

One of the most thought provoking realisations was this all happened in my great grandparents' youth. It was the cataclysmic upheaval of an ancient culture and way of life and replacement by foreign invaders and their way of life. And it was only four-to-five generations ago.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The best book on Native American history in years

This is a wonderful look at what must been seen as one of the most exciting periods in recent history. Savage beautiful and sad a great read.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

bloody amazing

could not stop absolutely amazing and at times horrific 10/10 no move shows the true nature of the Indians

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Sad Story lacking Empathy

Hard to except story as theirs no recognition of the the theft of their Land! The glorification of the cowboys types who are murders of a people and culture! Tries to says the Indians were killers and Torturous and so it was ok what happen too them! It’s a good example of how America sees it self and why today they kill there own people in high schools and others abroad! I really struggle to finish it!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing!

I haven't been drawn into a story like I was with this book in sometime. Excellent and honest story telling with good dry humour of such terrible times. Amazing!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

An insightful and refreshingly balanced look at the brutality and hardships suffered on the new frontier when two vastly different, but warlike, cultures collide.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

captivating and enthralling

Dan's
portrait and ability to capture how the Great Plains story played out in history has peaked my curious dive into a more indepth look all the accounts accociated with the diverse and often undervalued way of life the people that shaped and made it the one of the last unexplored place for white's in America's history and its draw to drag people there from afar for what so much of us seek everyday
the uncertainty of adventure

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story

This was a fantastic story of a fascinating tribe. The history in his is very well explained and to a lamen I was taken on a journey through the 19th Century American West. Absolutely loved this.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

insightful listening

Being Australian I found this an extremely interesting, eye opening, and a tremendously sad inspection of both American and Indian history. I had never appreciated how recent these events were and how relatively new the "United States" are.
For me, being having limited knowledge of the geography, keeping track of the locations was the biggest challenge.
I felt Gwynne kept a neutral stance and David Drummond did an excellent job.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Caroline
  • Caroline
  • 25-05-2021

Racist and one-sided account

This book made me quite angry. It is seen too much from the point of view of the white Americans e.g. referring to the Comanche Indians as being backwards and barbarians and not really giving much insight into their beliefs etc. It talks about their cruelty which I assume is true e.g. taking captives as slaves (as civilised white people have never done that, have they?). However, it downplays the fact that the white people were knowingly engaged in genocide whilst the Indians were literally fighting for their own existence and that of their whole way of life. The accounts of the hunting down and killing of the Indians from the point of view of the whites fails to explain how frightening it must have been for the last few Indians.

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tom moran
  • Tom moran
  • 01-05-2021

Fascinating

So I actually read this book a few years ago when I picked it up at the airport while travelling back from NYC.

However it was so good that since using audible I have constantly looked for it and was so pleased when it was eventually released.

In my opinion this book is a must read for anyone who is interested in American Indians and the history of the last frontier, the American West.

The author is honest and gives a balanced view about both white Americans and American plains Indians. The descriptions of the open frontier and the fastness of empty land is just incredible.

The Comanches use of the horse and their way of life is truly worth reading about. That perfect equilibrium they had as humans with nature is something that we could all learn from today. They had no church, no elitism, leaders of the tribe where picked on merit not because of who their father was, they didn’t farm just lived off the once abundant buffaloes, they owned no property, never stayed in the same place for months or years on end and didn’t have to answer to a king or religious leader from far away. The life for the women was particularly hard though and they were given little standings within the tribe. However there at one with nature and the surroundings is something that really intrigues me and something I wish we could do more of today.

I highly recommend it.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for George Sawyer
  • George Sawyer
  • 24-04-2021

Truly Epic

The Comanche story is truly epic, breathtaking, often harrowing, heartbreaking and exhilarating tale. It will open your eyes to the truly explosive violence and drama that occurred when a fierce stoneage culture of arguably the greatest horse riding warriors on earth collided head on with the unstoppable force of white "progress" in the last North American frontier. Brilliantly read by David Drummond.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ryan C.
  • Ryan C.
  • 03-08-2021

Great Listen

My first Audiobook on Native American history and stories. Such an interesting and well put together listen. Good job by the narrator.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brian Anderson
  • Brian Anderson
  • 30-04-2021

I expected to find something else...

...about the history of the Indian tribes native to America. This book was an education and informs as much about the white settler's motives as the natives reaction to them. It may help to explain a little of why America is the way it is today. Quanna is an incredible figure in history worth knowing.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Phil Wain
  • Phil Wain
  • 24-07-2021

Gruesome

Details gruesome but there is a general feeling that you have heard the real story. The savagery on both sides makes it hard to take a standpoint. I enjoyed it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David E.
  • David E.
  • 28-07-2021

Awesome

Loved everything about this book, I couldn't stop listening, I recommend this book to everyone.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-07-2021

fascinating history

somewhat different from Hollywood version of the West.
a picture of greed for land trampling over native Indian rights.
brutal but fascinating tale.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 17-06-2021

When we were warriors!

Amazing insight into Indian history,culture . Totally blows that movie Indian stereotype clean out of the water!!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kath
  • Kath
  • 04-06-2021

Brilliant research

Absolutely fabulous book. Nothing held back. Learnt what actually went on in the old West.
Loved it so much bought a hard copy for myself and one for my brother . Narrator was first class, just the right tone of voice for the book. Wonderfully read. Thank you to author and Narrator.

4 people found this helpful

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.