by Glenn Frankel
It’s funny how you can sail through life thinking that you are reasonably well-versed in popular culture, yet be oblivious to certain landmark events (or movies). I lived for 20 years in North Texas, but had never heard of Cynthia Ann Parker, a legendary frontier girl who was abducted by Comanches near Dallas in 1836, and whose kidnapping became the basis for John Ford’s classic western, The Searchers – a movie I have not seen.
Frankel’s book is an ambitious attempt to link Parker’s story, Ford’s movie, and America’s tortured racial past, but it’s only somewhat successful. Searchers suffers from the same disease that afflicts so many other historical books: the author’s obligation to include genealogical minutiae of interest primarily to other historians. Yes, I’m intrigued by Cynthia Ann’s tragic life – but please don’t bore me with details about her uncles and aunts.
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