October 18, 2011
Last weekend, I must have had ten different people come up to me at the 22nd Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium and mention to me how much they enjoyed reading "Empire of the Summer Moon: The Story of Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History."
When I got to Albuquerque, I mentioned this to Paul Hutton and he told me the back story. The author, S.C. Gwynne, who lives in Dallas and writes for the Dallas Morning News sent the unsold manuscript to a friend of Hutton's—a historian of some note in the Lone Star State (he wrote "Thunderstruck Under The Tailbone," for us, about a Texas father in the 1830s flabbergasted at his teenage daughter's sexual awakening). The noted historian read it and proclaimed it worthy but concluded it was too bad everyone already knew the story.
With a modest advance, Simon and Schuster bought the book, and having sold 250,000 copies, and counting, AND as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the book has been making waves ever since. I think it has been optioned as a movie as well.
Hutton gifted me a paperback of the book and I started reading it this morning. It is quite brutal, with gang rapes and mutilation, usually going on at the same time, and in front of the children of the women being raped. The amazing trick of the book is that one still feels compassion for the Commanches.
Get ready for another book, this one on the Apaches. Gee I wonder who might write that best seller?
"A story well told is never old."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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