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The Searchers

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,253 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
In this great American masterpiece, which served as the basis for the classic John Wayne film, two men with very different agendas push their endurance beyond all faith and hope to find a little girl captured by the Comanche.
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Published January 27th 2009 by Leisure Books (first published 1954)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”A man has to learn to forgive himself,” Amos said, his voice unnaturally gentle….”Or he can’t stand to live. It so happens we be Texans. We took a reachin’ holt, way far out, past where any man has right or reason to hold on. Or it we didn’t, our folks did, so we can’t leave off, without giving up that they were fools, wasting their lives, and washed in the way they died.”

 photo 19aa7423-60c3-4de5-9e3e-1525d7ecfcf7_zps2d794f9f.jpg
The moment of realization.

Amos Edwards and Marty Pauley are helping to retrieve some cattle that have been stolen from a ne
I was a huge John Wayne fan growing up. Like, embarrassingly huge. I had a framed picture in my bedroom. I had a thick celebratory magazine that provided descriptions of every single one of his movies (some 200 or more, including bit parts). I had a John Wayne paper doll collection! Whenever a cable station had a “John Wayne Weekend,” I’d buy a stack of VHS tapes and record for hours on end. I loved his drawl, his catchphrases, his swagger, and his big right hook.

Eventually, I grew up, and my c
Jun 11, 2012 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Isca Silurum
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Texas, 1848. When Comanches attack the Edwards family's settlement on the Texas plains, they kidnap two girls - seventeen year-old Lucy and ten year-old Debbie. So Amos Edwards sets out on the dangerous mission to recover his two nieces, with the help of his nephew Mart and a rag-tag bunch of searchers. Their epic mission will last six years. The concluding episode is at the same time next week.

Alan Le May's 1954 novel is a timeless work of western fiction and
Oct 22, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was glad to find this new reprint of the 1954 Alan LeMay classic. LeMay has made a reputation as a writer of stories set in Texas. He has a score of screenplays, novels and short stories to his credit. This novel was the basis of a 1956 film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. It is considered to be a great classic western movie; it, and several other Ford-Wayne westerns, including the 1939 "Stagecoach" are quoted by modern directors, including Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese a ...more
Susan Stuber
Sep 05, 2014 Susan Stuber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If you are interested in the last years of the native Americans in Texas, and you want a highly nuanced, well-written and enthralling story to go with it, this is your book. I found it ever so much better than Lonesome Dove and The Son. LeMay does not try to make any of his characters into heros or villains, he simply tells the story (beautifully, without pathos) and lets the reader make his/her own opinions of who was morally right and wrong. There is no pat plot here, no foreseeable outcome, u ...more
Ben Loory
Jul 06, 2010 Ben Loory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: david mamet
it's funny, i've probably seen the john ford version of this book 25-30 times, and it never once even occurred to me that it might be based on a book... it took david mamet's mentioning it as one of his five favorite novels to get me to actually look into it. it's a very different kind of book than True Grit, the other western on mamet's list... slower, longer, straighter, never funny... it's calm and spacious and mythic but still realistic, informative while still always emotional. the ending i ...more
Steven Howes
May 13, 2013 Steven Howes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Searchers is an excellent western novel that is loosely based on the story of Cynthia Ann Parker who was abducted by Comanches in Texas in 1836 when she was about 10 years of age. She remained a captive for over 20 years until she was "recaptured" by white society. While living with the Comanches, she was pursued by several family members but to no avail. She did give birth to several children during her captivity. Her oldest, Quannah, became a legendary Comanche chief and oversaw the transi ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up because it's the basis for my favorite John Wayne movie. A great deal of the story was incorporated exactly into the movie. But there were changes. And, unfortunately, for the book, the movie versions won out every time. One part of the ending especially upset me. I can't give it away for anyone who will be reading the book, but I think you'd agree with me.
Biggest problem I had was the fact that the leading man's name was Amos Edwards. Thank God the movie changed it to Ethan Edwar
Jim Kennedy
Jun 05, 2014 Jim Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really, really good. Not quite what I was expecting, this is a serious, sad, dark tale, not normally what I go for, but brilliantly told and I was riveted. The Indians, the white men and the land and time they inhabit just engulfed me from start to finish. I'm going to have to watch the movie. And I will be reading more from LeMay.

This story will be staying with me for a while I think.
Jim Ament
Jan 14, 2011 Jim Ament rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
From my blog:

The Searchers by Alan Le May (1899-1964), published 1954

I had been curious about this book for a long time, having never read it, but knowing that I've seen the movie enough times over the years to know some of the lines, I thought it was time to look at the source. So, roughly fifty years after the book was published, I read it.

Amos Edwards (not Ethan Edwards, as in the movie) is the Captain Ahab of the book, in this case, a man driven by an
Feb 03, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon Lewis
May 25, 2015 Simon Lewis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
As night falls in the Texas borderlands, a lone rancher prepares to defend his family against Comanches. Miles away, his brother leads a posse tracking cow thieves. He finds only carcasses. There are no thieves: the Indians have lured the men away so that the family can be killed. They race back, running their horses to death, and return to the aftermath of a slaughter. The only bodies missing are those of the two young girls.
All this happens within about a dozen pages, making the opening of Th
Apr 06, 2011 Gregory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-western
This was the best western novel I've read so far. The characters and the details of life in post-Civil War Texas are rich and flavorful. The effort put into the dialogue is amazing. Reading this novel is like living a bit in the 19th century through the lives of these people. The main characters (Amos and Marty) are simply unforgettable. This is truly a character study more than a western story. You get to know "the searchers" over their long and perilous search like few characters in fiction. T ...more
This book beautifully evoked place and time. However, I didn't read too far into because... well, I can't say for sure, exactly. I think I could just get all I wanted from it (setting, as it turned out) from reading the first part and then looking through the rest. But I didn't feel the need to read the whole thing cover to cover because not much was really going to happen, and I was also uncomfortable with the portrayal of all Indians as evil incarnate. Maybe it's a legitimate portrayal of thin ...more
Sean Wicks
Oct 27, 2013 Sean Wicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The John Ford masterpiece is a fairly faithful adaptation of this book with the usual liberties in this case very minor, with scenes almost identical as well as some dialogue.

As you would expect, the book is dark - like the movie.

Some changes that occurred from book to film:

John Wayne's character is renamed from Amos in the book to Ethan in the movie. A move that was made to stay away from the AMOS AND ANDY radio show that was popular at the time. The name Ethan is used in the book as Martin Pa
Sep 06, 2012 Chrisl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quote from Alan LeMay, The Searchers :

“The Comanches were supposed to be the most literal-minded of all the tribes. There are Indians who live in a poetic world, half of the spirit, but the Comanches were a tough-minded, practical people, who laughed at the religious ceremonies of other tribes as crazy-Indian foolishness. They had no official medicine men, no pantheon of named gods, no ordered theology. Yet they lived very close to the objects of the earth around them, and sensed in rocks, and w
Greg O'byrne
Jul 25, 2014 Greg O'byrne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. Not quite a five star read for me, but certainly a strong four.

The book has a different ending than the movie and I think on the whole John Ford's take on the story and the changes he made are a _bit_ better. But the book's story line works too. The last third is just different.

(view spoiler)
Dec 04, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so pleasantly surprised in reading this book. I've always been a fan of the movie but until I heard a interview on NPR on the making of the movie and the actual historical events on which the novel and movie are based, I never dreamed of reading it. I'm glad I did. I think it is one of the best western novels I've ever read, right up there with Portis' True Grit. The basic outline of the story in the novel and movie are very similar but with important differences in plot emphasis, characte ...more
Roger Miller
Apr 12, 2015 Roger Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few books where I saw the movies first and read the book much later. It's hard to beat the Duke, but in the book Amos Edward does just that. The story is that Amos Edwards and Martin Pauley search for their sister Debbie Edwards after the comanche destroy and kill the rest of the family on the homestead. The search takes literally years, decades of emotions and all the strength they have to complete the task.
How Alan Le May kept the book moving quickly, while conveying how Am
Matthew Willis
Dec 21, 2014 Matthew Willis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The film is rightly considered a classic, but the novel on which it is based seems to be rather less well known/regarded. I found this surprising, as Alan le May's novel has so much to offer. The central story seems straightforward - a young white girl is kidnapped and her family killed by Comanche native Americans, her surviving relatives (uncle Amos, Ethan in the film, and adoptive brother Mart) hunt for her. But like Heart of Darkness or Moby Dick, this is a tale about the journey, internal a ...more
Irving Karchmar
In this great American masterpiece, due in large part to the John Ford classic film, two men with very different agendas push their endurance beyond all faith and hope to find a little girl captured by the Comanche in a murder raid. In the film, Amos and Ethan, the hard-bitten Civil War veteran and Ethan his married brother, change names, and Ethan becomes the name of the John Wayne character. I guess John Ford liked the sound of Ethan better as it rolled off the tongue. Other than that and a fe ...more
May 02, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
This classic Western was the source of the John Ford-John Wayne movie of the same title. The film differs in some critical ways from the book. The novel has a great, exciting beginning, with settlers lured away from their homes, leaving them unprotected from Comanche attack. Two sisters are taken by unknown Indians -- and then the long (years long) search ensues. The book has a little trouble keeping up its intensity, simply because the two searchers travel, and travel some more, and continually ...more
Wilkin Beall
Mar 11, 2015 Wilkin Beall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an enjoyable read. Most of us have seen the film and I recall upon finishing the novel, after having seen the film version many times, thinking that the novel was not as good as the film and that the changes to the story line by John Ford were effective. Actually that is probably true. The novel is different but not necessarily inferior. I doubt that following it more closely would have made the film better. There were a few cheesy moments in the film of the sort of which Ford was often gui ...more
Xavi Reixach
Oct 21, 2015 Xavi Reixach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: far-west
Magnífica novela que nos narra la búsqueda llevada a cabo por los dos protagonistas para rescatar a una niña raptada por los comanches.

De una crudeza superior a la que recordaba en su adaptación al cine, por momentos me recordó al ambiente que me hizo sentir Meridiano de Sangre.

Me quedo con este párrafo que resume la novela:

"Un indio persigue algo hasta que piensa que ya lo ha perseguido lo suficiente. Luego lo deja estar. Y lo mismo ocurre cuando huye. Después de un tiempo piensa que debe desis
Dec 17, 2015 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan LeMay's classic "The Searchers" has withstood the test of time which measures true greatness. His description of the rigors of late-century life on the Plains, and the on-going war between encroaching settlers and roaming Comanches, rings true for those who know those tales. Reflective of the era it was published, LeMay does not exhibit the level of violence or the same reliance on the thesaurus as a modern Cormac McCarthy novel, yet his light touch is almost echoed by Kent Haruf. Even in i ...more
Tommy  Hester
Jun 16, 2016 Tommy Hester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Total Suprise

Having only seen the movie, this book was a total surprise to me. It was well written. The story keeps you right in the search, never dragging. Smart and Amos were very well developed. Their relationship totally believable. This one has a real feeling to it as " the boy don't always get the girl" .
It seems strange now, reading a western where the whites aren't demonized, and the native Americans the good guys. This actually seems it's somewhere in the middle. Maybe that's what makes
Kem White
May 29, 2014 Kem White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine tale of obsession. "The Searchers" is one of the best westerns I've ever read and quite possibly the best book I've read this year. Two survivors of an Indian massacre spend years searching for a third kidnapped family member. Their motivation is unwavering as they crisscross the Texas prairie, though the motivation of each is different. There is plenty of great western action but this novel is far deeper than your typical oater. This is a must read for fans of westerns and highly ...more
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Debbie and Marty 2 15 Jan 22, 2013 06:10PM  
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Western writer chiefly known for The Searcher and The Unforgiven.
More about Alan LeMay...

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