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The Captured by Scott Zesch
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The Captured

by Scott Zesch

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This is the story of people who lived on both sides of a line in an irreconcilable conflict between cultures and societies. They experienced a duality of awareness that few in their age could even imagine.

Scott Zesch's biography of his ancestor Adolph Korn, a "White Indian", captured and raised for a few years by the Comanches, is eye opening and enlightening. Zesch explores the historical context of his ancestor and about ten other individuals who were captured on the Texas frontier by Indians from 1865 to 1871. In so doing, he explains the circumstances of Texas settlement by German immigrants (poverty, struggle, fear), differences between English speaking and German settlers in Texas, the cultures of the tribes who captured the children (a warrior ethic), their motivations (largely, they wanted more warriors), and the policies of the U.S. government toward native Americans during and after the Civil War. We are reminded that for many of the captives, after about a year of captivity a life as a Plains Indian was preferred, and few wanted to return home. When they were forced to return to their parents and homes, as the US army drove the Indians into reservations, the adjustment was difficult and painful.

Zesch feels himself both to be a descendant of whites and, through the experience of his ancestor Adolph Korn, to be an adoptive descendant of the Comanche. He tells both sides' stories with balance and sympathy. He also explores his own family's ambivalent relationship to its ancestor, and peels back the layers of history, so that we feel not only the reality of the 1860s and 1870s, but the subsequent ways in which the experiences of soldiers, Indians, captives and others were later represented in the early twentieth century, through books, Wild West shows, reunions between former adversaries (White and Indian) and former brothers (the captives and their former fellow warriors.) Family history is woven beautifully together with historical sociology and political history.

The story of "White Indians", in short, cracks open a window on the entire Western reality. The bi-cultural experience of the captives, their struggle to become Indians, and their struggle to return to White society, reveal worlds about both societies. I cannot recommend this highly enough as a lens on American history and the American experience. Focussed on Texas from 1860 to 1880, we understand through the very specific experiences of 10 captives and the activities of those who held them and those who tried to redeem them, something profound about the entirety of 19th century America.

( )
  hereandthere | Apr 8, 2013 |
This is a deeply researched and well-written account of the nine white children captured by Indians in Texas Hill Country between 1865 and 1871. It covers all known details about their family lives, their captures, their lives with the Comanche and Apache, their re-captures by whites, and their adult lives. Zesch draws out the similarities and patterns of the case studies, as well as the themes of inconsistency in stories, dehumanization of the other, difficult marriages, and so on.

Zesch notes repeatedly that all the children felt a strong connection to the Indian life they lived for the rest of their lives -- even when they returned to the white world, and even past 1880, when the Indians themselves no longer maintained that way of life. That may have been because even the young children of white frontiersmen worked extremely hard without prospering, and the Indian world offered freedom and rewarded cleverness -- or, a hypothesis Zesch doesn't discuss but also seems likely, it may have been because the children who passed the initial capture hazing had a natural personality type that strongly favored Indian mores.

Regardless, the sort of people drawn to the frontier were not the sort of people given to deep reflections and documentation of their experience, and this book is about as factual as any book can be regarding Indian captures. ( )
  pammab | Feb 12, 2013 |
Captivating! ( )
  wbrackett | Mar 2, 2012 |
I would highly recommend this book for those who want to get a better understanding of life on the Texas frontier near the end of the 1800. He gives an in depth historical perspective of Indians and settlers from every angle as he follows the lives of the captured children from the time of their capture till their death.
I only give it a 4 because it was way too long in many parts. ( )
  GShuk | Oct 27, 2009 |
http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/2006/12/captured-by-scott-zesch-as-youngster.ht...

As a youngster, Scott Zesch heard tales of Adolf Korn, his great-uncle. Adolf Korn would have been little different from other German youngsters in Texas, except that one day in 1870, Indian raiders carried him off. Eventually he returned to his white family, but he was a very different young man.
  DaveHardy | Dec 27, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312317891, Paperback)

On New Year's Day in 1870, ten-year-old Adolph Korn was kidnapped by an Apache raiding party. Traded to Comaches, he thrived in the rough, nomadic existence, quickly becoming one of the tribe's fiercest warriors. Forcibly returned to his parents after three years, Korn never adjusted to life in white society. He spent his last years in a cave, all but forgotten by his family.

That is, until Scott Zesch stumbled over his own great-great-great uncle's grave. Determined to understand how such a "good boy" could have become Indianized so completely, Zesch travels across the west, digging through archives, speaking with Comanche elders, and tracking eight other child captives from the region with hauntingly similar experiences. With a historians rigor and a novelists eye, Zesch paints a vivid portrait of life on the Texas frontier, offering a rare account of captivity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:01 -0400)

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