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The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

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The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend Cover

ISBN13: 9781608191055
ISBN10: 1608191052
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1836 in East Texas, Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old girl, was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S. cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity. But her son would become one of the last great Comanche warriors, and later an apostle of reconciliation between white people and Native Americans. Cynthia Ann's story has been told and re-told, by Comanches and Texans, altered and recreated by over generations to become a foundational American myth. The legend has given rise to operas and one-act plays, and in the 1950s to a compelling Western novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood's most legendary films, The Searchers, "The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest... and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!" directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.The dominant story that has emerged is of the inevitable triumph, through blood, sweat, and tears, of white civilization-How the West Was Won-underpinned by anxiety about the seduction and sullying of white women by "savages." But it is also a story of a woman - and later, her son - searching for identity and community between two warring worlds. John Ford captured something of that dichotomy, and Glenn Frankel, beginning on set with the Hollywood legend, then returning to the origin of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth.

Review:

"John Ford's classic 1956 western film The Searchers, starring John Wayne, drew inspiration from the 19th-century kidnappings of Cynthia Ann Parker: first as a child by Comanche warriors, and over two decades later — as a wife and mother — by misguided whites seeking to rescue her from her captors and adoptive family. In this powerful dual history, Frankel (Beyond the Promised Land), winner of a Pulitzer in 1989 for his reporting on Israel and the Middle East for the Washington Post, dexterously interweaves the testosterone-fueled Hollywood backstory of the film with the bloody turmoil that too often characterized relations between Native Americans and settlers pushing west. While the behind-the-scenes look at the classic flick is entertaining, the drama of the movie set pales in comparison to Frankel's riveting depiction of the real-life tragedy, out of which arose an unlikely hero: Quanah, Parker's elder son and half-Comanche warrior — turned — ambassador of peace, whose existence paved the way for a touching reunion between generations of his Texan and Comanche descendants. Cynthia's story is one of a heartbroken yet tough survivor, and Frankel's retelling is a gripping portrayal of a mesmerizing period of American history. B&w photos. Agent: Gail Ross, Yoon Ross Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Beginning with the classic Western The Searchers, Glenn Frankel investigates the true story behind the film — and the true history of that story, as it became American myth

Synopsis:

In 1836 in East Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S. cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity. Cynthia Ann's story has been told and re-told over generations to become a foundational American tale. The myth gave rise to operas and one-act plays, and in the 1950s to a novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood's most legendary films, The Searchers, "The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest... and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!" directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Glenn Frankel, beginning in Hollywood and then returning to the origins of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth. The dominant story that has emerged departs dramatically from documented history: it is of the inevitable triumph of white civilization, underpinned by anxiety about the sullying of white women by "savages." What makes John Ford's film so powerful, and so important, Frankel argues, is that it both upholds that myth and undermines it, baring the ambiguities surrounding race, sexuality, and violence in the settling of the West and the making of America.

Synopsis:

In 1836 in East Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S. cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity. Cynthia Ann's story has been told and re-told over generations to become a foundational American tale. The myth gave rise to operas and one-act plays, and in the 1950s to a novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood's most legendary films, The Searchers, "The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest... and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!" directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.

Glenn Frankel, beginning in Hollywood and then returning to the origins of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth. The dominant story that has emerged departs dramatically from documented history: it is of the inevitable triumph of white civilization, underpinned by anxiety about the sullying of white women by "savages." What makes John Ford's film so powerful, and so important, Frankel argues, is that it both upholds that myth and undermines it, baring the ambiguities surrounding race, sexuality, and violence in the settling of the West and the making of America.

About the Author

Glenn Frankel worked for nearly thirty years for the Washington Post, as a reporter, a foreign correspondent, and editor of the Washington Post Magazine. As Jerusalem bureau chief, he won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for "sensitive and balanced reporting from Israel and the Middle East." His first book, Beyond the Promised Land: Jews and Arabs on the Hard Road to a New Israel won the National Jewish Book Award. His second, Rivonia's Children: Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa was a finalist for South Africa's prestigious Alan Paton Award. Frankel has been an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellow and a Hearst Visiting Professional in the Department of Communication at Stanford. He is currently the Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Christen Valentine, July 7, 2013 (view all comments by Christen Valentine)
Glenn Frankel has, without a doubt, written one of the best- and most accessible- books about film since Thomson's The Big Screen. In choosing to focus on the near universal classic The Searchers, his focus is deceptively narrow. He begins with John Ford's production, the medium through which the widest audience has heard Cynthia Ann Parker's story, but quickly shifts gears to the tumultuous history of conflict between Texas settlers and Comanche Indians. His assessment of the situation is fair and even-handed; neither the pioneers nor the American Indians are idealized, and he never hesitates to detail atrocities committed by either group. He tells Parker's story with tremendous care, citing a variety of sources and indicating the disparities between accounts, leaving the reader with a tragic and complex impression of the girl kidnapped by Comanches, raised as a Native American, and eventually recaptured by one of the white search parties who had spent years looking for her and other captives. Frankel details the complications and failures of her reintegration within white society following around thirty years of life among the Comanche people, from the famous photograph of Parker nursing her biracial daughter Prairie Flower to her death months after her youngest child perished from the flu. He also gives fair space to Parker's son Quanah, who began as a Comanche fighter and eventually became a go-between for his society and white government, and later lived life as a dandy in a mansion, surrounded by his family. Following the section on the real Parker family, both Native and white, Frankel shifts gears to Alan Lemay, whose novel was the basis for Ford's film. He provides background for the author, detailing his bibliography and success as a mass market writer, as well as Lemay's interest in Parker and the frequently brutal and violent uncle who spent many years pursuing her. Frankel's obsession sometimes seems to mirror Lemay's, though the contemporary historian casts a broader and more objective net than the novelist. Last but not least, Frankel spends around a hundred pages on the troubled and difficult production of Ford's film. Every aspect is well-examined, from script development to on-location shooting to conflicts over the film's score. He also dwells on Ford's prior career and personality, as he does star John Wayne. In both cases, he presents them as deeply complicated men, often temperamental and driven by hard masculinity, but capable of extreme kindness, as when Wayne requisitions a private jet to take a young Navajo girl to the hospital. He also, and perhaps most importantly, analyses the resulting film with the critical affection needed to properly assess it. He looks at the film with the reverence of a cinephile, while still examining its racial and social implications. As a cinephile myself, Frankel comes across as a true lover of The Searchers, one who knows its shots and composition intimately, with an abiding appreciation for its accomplishments and failures. This book is a must-read for film fans and history buffs alike, an intelligent love letter to American legend and art.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781608191055
Author:
Frankel, Glenn
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Native American
Subject:
Film & Video - History & Criticism
Subject:
Film and Television-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW t/o
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.125 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Specific Film
Featured Titles » Arts
History and Social Science » Native American » General Native American Studies
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » US History » Reference

The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend Used Hardcover
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$19.50 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781608191055 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "John Ford's classic 1956 western film The Searchers, starring John Wayne, drew inspiration from the 19th-century kidnappings of Cynthia Ann Parker: first as a child by Comanche warriors, and over two decades later — as a wife and mother — by misguided whites seeking to rescue her from her captors and adoptive family. In this powerful dual history, Frankel (Beyond the Promised Land), winner of a Pulitzer in 1989 for his reporting on Israel and the Middle East for the Washington Post, dexterously interweaves the testosterone-fueled Hollywood backstory of the film with the bloody turmoil that too often characterized relations between Native Americans and settlers pushing west. While the behind-the-scenes look at the classic flick is entertaining, the drama of the movie set pales in comparison to Frankel's riveting depiction of the real-life tragedy, out of which arose an unlikely hero: Quanah, Parker's elder son and half-Comanche warrior — turned — ambassador of peace, whose existence paved the way for a touching reunion between generations of his Texan and Comanche descendants. Cynthia's story is one of a heartbroken yet tough survivor, and Frankel's retelling is a gripping portrayal of a mesmerizing period of American history. B&w photos. Agent: Gail Ross, Yoon Ross Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
Beginning with the classic Western The Searchers, Glenn Frankel investigates the true story behind the film — and the true history of that story, as it became American myth
"Synopsis" by ,
In 1836 in East Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S. cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity. Cynthia Ann's story has been told and re-told over generations to become a foundational American tale. The myth gave rise to operas and one-act plays, and in the 1950s to a novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood's most legendary films, The Searchers, "The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest... and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!" directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Glenn Frankel, beginning in Hollywood and then returning to the origins of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth. The dominant story that has emerged departs dramatically from documented history: it is of the inevitable triumph of white civilization, underpinned by anxiety about the sullying of white women by "savages." What makes John Ford's film so powerful, and so important, Frankel argues, is that it both upholds that myth and undermines it, baring the ambiguities surrounding race, sexuality, and violence in the settling of the West and the making of America.
"Synopsis" by ,
In 1836 in East Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches. She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior. Twenty-four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S. cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity. Cynthia Ann's story has been told and re-told over generations to become a foundational American tale. The myth gave rise to operas and one-act plays, and in the 1950s to a novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood's most legendary films, The Searchers, "The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest... and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!" directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.

Glenn Frankel, beginning in Hollywood and then returning to the origins of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth. The dominant story that has emerged departs dramatically from documented history: it is of the inevitable triumph of white civilization, underpinned by anxiety about the sullying of white women by "savages." What makes John Ford's film so powerful, and so important, Frankel argues, is that it both upholds that myth and undermines it, baring the ambiguities surrounding race, sexuality, and violence in the settling of the West and the making of America.
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