The Past Comes Alive in S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer MoonBy Burkey Belser
June 7, 2013
I have read my fair share about history. WWI, Romans, etc. to name a couple. Great histories deliver a panorama of land or sea, a broad canvas across the territory under study. They also deliver insight in the particular, on the ground in the moment. In the best of these, the past comes alive with dust and sweat, blood and tears, as it does in S.C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon. I will confess a fascination with Native Americans, one I believe should interest all of us simply because we are Americans. I have a poor collection of Indian baskets that's led me to research the hundreds of tribes here before us. But before I read this book, I didn't understand anything about Native Americans. I mythologized their glory at the same time I was unaware of their ferocity and horrible brutality. Reading this book, I'm left with sympathy for both sides equally. And I felt like I'd lived in a tipi or bivouacked on the plain. That's a remarkable achievement by a writer, don't you think? I can beat the drum for the Comanches as enthusiastically as I can cock my rifle for the Texans.
Why should marketers care? Missing in the desperate effort of all to claw their way out of the Great Recession is the panorama of land and sea in 2013. The delivery of services in almost every category has been redefined by changing demographics, changing technologies and changing habits, the same changes that transformed the West in 1870. Who is under attack? Who is attacking? Who or what is an unexpected player or technology changing the way services are bought and sold? Are we thinking about this hard enough? And when is a history book really a business book?