Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Description Release date: May 10, 2011 In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all. 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 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. 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. S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.

Friday, April 5, 2013

'Blind Your Ponies' Discussion Goes Well With Enchiladas

Dateline: April 4, 2013. Location: Wills Household. Attendance: All accounted for and present during roll call. Conditions: Rainy so the meeting had to be held indoors. Candace and Julie arrived early enough to help with the cheese grating and lettuce chopping while I was chopping onions and heating up the sauces for the enchiladas. The green chile sauce I made with my own Sandia Chiles that I grew in one of my 16' X 4' raised beds out back. The Enchiladas met with general acclaim but unfortunately the boys arrived too late to take part (and there wasn't enough sauce left for them any way). The discussion of Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West was well rounded and Joe reminded us that the author went around the west selling his book out of the trunk of his car. Jim and Lori had suggested this wonderful tale of a small town in Montana trying to hold on their basketball team and the good fortune and drive that allows it to unfold in the story. It was generally agreed that the characters personality, each with their own tragedy or sad story as a backdrop, where what made the story great. That was where the surprise and wonder came from in the story and gave them the strength to persevere. The basketball part of the story was more predictable. I found myself skimming most to the playoff game descriptions except for the ways the two coaches motivated the players each time and, of course, the final scores and the celebrations afterwards. Jim pointed out the Author's Note in the back of the book so I read it aloud then Julie read the newer updated one from the back of her copy. That was interesting because we found out that the town of Willow Springs actually does exist and they have been trying to hang on to their team! The restaurant does exist and so does the bicycle built for two!! He told the story of how he came to the town and how the mystery of how the people carried on there attracted him thereby seeding the story for him. Great stuff! I baked the Cheney Band Apple Pie and served it a la mode and that was really good too. Luckily the enchiladas weren't too hot!