The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2013. 416p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608191055. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781620400647. HIST
Myth- and filmmaking go hand in hand, as myth is both the source for and perpetuated by cinema. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Frankel (formerly of the Washington Post; dir., Sch. of Journalism, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Riviona's Children) tackles this dichotomy by investigating the mythology around the story of Cynthia Ann Parker and how it later came to be immortalized in the 1955 film The Searchers. The book is divided into biographies of the four central figures, beginning with Parker and then her son, Quanah. In these first two sections, Frankel lays out the story of Parker's capture by Comanches and her eventual reclamation by the U.S. Cavalry and discusses how the Parker story has changed through the years as family members and historians have rewritten the narrative. Then, Frankel turns his attention to Alan LeMay, whose novel The Searchers inspired the film, and John Ford, the director who brought the film to life.
VERDICT Despite a few unfortunate errors (e.g., Texas president Mirabeau B. Lamar is referred to as "Governor"), this is an enjoyable book that will appeal to film historians/buffs as well as to those with an interest in Western history.
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