Searching For The Story Behind “The Searchers”

th“The Searchers” seemed like the perfect book for me.  It was a well written book that easily described the Comanche’s abduction of a child of settlers, Cynthia Parker, and combined that story with the making of the John Wayne movie “The Searchers” that told a similar story.  I had no idea that Cynthia’s kidnapping was one of hundreds.  Some of the stories about how the White captives were treated and killed were really gruesome, and made it clear that the Comanche’s reputation for violence was well deserved.  For me, there is absolutely nothing that could condone the Comanche’s kidnapping of innocent women and children, including Cynthia Parker.  After reading this book, moving to the West seemed extremely frightening!
Despite her family’s efforts to find her, Cynthia remained with the Comanches, where she married a Comanche warrior and had three children.  Much later, Cynthia and her daughter were found and brought back to Cynthia’s original family, but because her family didn’t understand the psychological impact of Cynthia’s captivity, they were unsympathetic when she wasn’t able to assimilate back into the ways of the pioneers.  When a cow was killed for food, Cynthia and her daughter ran to it and ate the kidneys right out of the carcass, resulting in blood running down their face, and frightening her family.  The book was divided into multiple sections, and the first section that focused on Cynthia was by far the most entertaining.  Every few pages there was murder, kidnapping, rape, and destruction.  The section detailing how Cynthia’s son ended up as a leader in the Comanches and negotiated with Americans in an attempt for both people to live together peacefully was interesting, although not necessarily in line with the product description.  The author certainly knows a lot about this time period, but it just didn’t seem necessary that all that information be crammed into these pages.  I thought I would most enjoy reading about the making of the movie, but the section of the book that focused on the actual moviemaking was diluted by details about too many other things.  The book should have been called- a complete encyclopedia of the struggle for the West and everyone who did anything remotely related to the movie “The Searchers.”

Although my interest in the novel lessened with each section, I was very intrigued with the story of Cynthia Parker, and might have found a new genre for myself- western stories of abduction.  I wonder how many stories I can get my hands on!


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