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The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,902 ratings  ·  394 reviews
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 fami ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 10th 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published November 1st 2004)
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Kathleen Kilmer I think any teen over 13 could read this book. Yes parts depict terrible events, but I think I read Exodus and Trinity at 14 or so. Certainly they see…moreI think any teen over 13 could read this book. Yes parts depict terrible events, but I think I read Exodus and Trinity at 14 or so. Certainly they see worse on TV, and this opens them up to a better understanding of the tragedies of culture clashes which can be important lessons. The book is quite objective about not passing judgments about the problems both whites (mostly german immigrants) and Indians faced.(less)

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Cathrine ☯️
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating well balanced account of how just a few months with native Americans could so drastically alter childrens lives forever. The author’s many times great uncle was an Indian captive and like many of the others taken did not wish to return to his family. Why? The stories profiled attempt to answer that question. Once rescued and returned many of the captives spoke well of their treatment and lifestyle and disparagingly of the army when recounting their experience to relatives and fri
Jason Koivu
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Don't let the title fool you, this is not just a single story. There are numerous stories about abduction on the western frontier in The Captured, and most of them are written with all the enticement of a newspaper headline w/photo.


Okay, that was a little too sensationalistic...not to mention racist.

However, there is a load of action and gruesome imagery in The Captured, as many of the abductions were the result of raids during which there were casualties o
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-fiction, audio
This book was equal parts eye opening, terrifying, informative, and truly sad. As well-researched as is possible, the book oozes of the author's passion for and dedication to uncovering the truth about his great uncle's capture. This results in a long, storied history that details life in the Texas wild country, raids, politics, Indian relations, and the kidnapping and return of many captive children. I could feel the author's deep desire to understand why his uncle and many other captives strug ...more
David Eppenstein
About a month ago I read "News of the World", a book with a rather popular following. I thought the book was okay but was otherwise not terribly impressed. However, I was intrigued by the subject of white children being captured by Native Americans and then being reluctant or even hostile to the opportunity to return to their white families. In her end note the author suggested that if the reader were interested in the psychology of captive children then they should read Scott Zesch's "The Captu ...more
Joy D
Scott Zechs’s great-great-great-uncle, Adolph Korn, was captured by Indians in 1870. From family stories, Zesch learned that his relative had difficulties readjusting to a farming life once he returned. He decided to find out more about his Uncle Adolph’s life. Since it had been so long and only a small amount of information specific to his uncle was available, he expanded his research to similar situations. This book describes the capture, captivity, release, and ultimate outcomes for nine such ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction reads like a history book. It's clear writing and thorough research. But it is so fact-filled in the who, what, where, how, & why that the scope of people (numbers alone) in far flung spheres of location (huge expanses of the American Plains to Southern fringes of Texas) becomes a dry and difficult read.

Most of the prime and most documented to voiced experience cases were in the period 1840-80, with the most highlighted in most detail for 5 or 6 cases during and in the decade a
Anthony Whitt
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book and an interesting read. The author's narrative flows in an easy reading manner that will keep the readers attention from beginning to end. Zesch is from the area of the abductions and does a thorough job of describing the sometimes brutal attacks on the settlers from that time period. His knowledge of the Texas Hill Country and kinship with his pioneer ancestors add a unique personal perspective to his story. The final work is well worth the read and sheds light on the trag ...more
The stories of six boys and two girls who were kidnapped (in separate incidents) by Indians (Comanche and Apache) from their homes in the hill country of Texas during the 1860's. The events surrounding their capture are shocking and disturbing because of their brutality. Yet, on the other hand, the lives these children led after being assimilated into their new families and tribes were exciting, adventuresome, and fulfilling to such a degree that they all suffered greatly upon being forced back ...more
Chance Carden
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Captured explores and examines the stories of white settlers abducted by Plains Indians on the American frontier during the mid to late 1800s. His search for information about his relative, Adolph Korn, revealed how common a practice raiding and kidnapping was for the Plains Indians, and others who had similar fates to Korn. In response, Zesch compiled these stories together in an attempt to shed light and understanding on a topic that is often viewed through a single perspective.

To begin wi
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, 2017, non-fiction
After reading News of the World and The Son this year, I was intrigued by the real-life accounts of kids who were kidnapped and adopted by the Comanche, Apache, and other Southern Plains tribes in the late 1800s. The real stories were every bit as sensational as the fictionalized accounts, and I could definitely see where the authors of those novels drew on historical accounts.

My take-away:
Both sides were pretty brutal, but the Native tribes got screwed the hardest in the long-run.
Being a Nat
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A riveting telling of Texas children abducted from their frontier homes by raiding and murdering Indians during the latter part of the 19th century.

Loved the honest portrayal of the captives thoughts on life with their "adoptive" families and existence on the frontier. Well done!
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Zesch is a relative of Adolf Korn, a well-known Indian captive of the 1870s. Korn's captivity and the subsequent efforts to bring him back to his family excited much comment at the time. What is less well-known is that Korn never adjusted to white life after being an Indian. He became a hermit, living in a cave above the Llano River. The Captured is Zech's effort to make sense of great-uncle Adolph's experiences. Zesch compares the stories of many Texan child-captives, detailing Indian rai ...more
Before participating in a book discussion on Pauline Jiles's News of the World--still the most memorable book I've read this year--a friend suggested I read Captured as background into what the young woman being returned "home" in Jiles's book must have felt. So I did--it's a fascinating look at several captives, taken in Texas and then returned to their families. What their lives were like with the Indians and how they adjusted--or mostly didn't--to life back with their "real" families. For the ...more
John Allgood
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
The book looks at the lives of children captured by the Comanche and Apaches in Texas during the 1860s-70s. Most of these children rapidly assimilated into their captors lives and even when returned to their original families never were the same. A tragic story about the clash between two cultures. While interesting, I found it a bit repetitive at times.
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Some fascinating stories but I think the book could have been shorter. Also, some awful and graphic scenes - it seems the more I learn about history the more I see man’s sinful nature on display, and it’s hard to tell who is the good guy.
Renae Hinchey
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few months ago, I read “News of the World,” the story of a young white girl captured in the hill country of Texas by Native Indians in the late 1860’s and then resisting her return to her family. This piqued my interest on the subject of settler’s children being captured by Indians (Comanches and Apaches) and not wanting to go back to their white families, so I took the author’s recommendation to read Scott Zesch’s “The Captured.”

Zesch’s book is so well researched on the kidnapping of settler’
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The book, at its heart, is about the author's step relative who was abducted as a child. From family legends, the author knew that his relative, once returned to his family, had a difficult readjustment to the 'white' society he was born. He never lost the lessons and ways of his one-time native family. Through his research, author Zesch found many examples of other children who felt the same way. They never blamed or hated their adopted families.

Zesch does his best to show both sides of the sto
May 16, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though this book covers the dark period of how the U.S. took advantage, cheated and killed the Native Americans. Even taking that into account, it is interesting to learn about the early days of settlement in my native state of Texas. There really doesn’t seem to be an answer as to why some captured children preferred to stay with their captors than return to their first family. I do think the book went on a bit long and seemed repetitious.
Patricia Doyle
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Captured is a true story about white children being captured and “Indianized.” It was mystifying as to how little time it took for them to reject their own white race and choose to live with their captors. In at least one instance – Harman Lehmann – the Indian raiding party passed by his old home. Herman was urged to go in and see his mother. He refused.

Anthropologists differ in their beliefs in the making of a white Indian. Some believe early age of abduction contributes to children becomi
Wow. This was very hard to read. Tragic on so many levels.

American Indians as a way of life stole children from neighboring tribes. They experienced a high mortality rate among their own people for various reasons, and used kidnapping as a way to replenish their numbers. When non-Indians moved into the Indians territory, the Indians continued their means of building up their numbers and kidnapped White, Mexican, and Negro children. For the parents to try to retrieve those children was something
Steven Howes
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
At the age of 12, the author's great uncle Adolph Korn was abducted by Commanche Indians in Texas on January 1, 1870 and eventually returned to his family approximately three years later. After hearing stories about his uncle's capture, his life among the Indians, and his difficult life following his return to white society, the author researched his uncle's life story and those of eight other children abducted by Indians. Even though the durations of captivity ranged from about 6 months to over ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western, historical
Well researched and written. Zesch compiled the story of several captives and examined them as a group, comparing and contrasting details from their families to their capture, experiences during captivity, and their life after they were returned to their family. Details of peace treaties, clashes of cultures, and how the American government treated the Indians were described objectively. I appreciate the work going into the book. I feel I've learned quite a bit from it. ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Captured is similar to Empire of the Summer Moon, but tells the accounts of several captured children instead of one single story. This book was well written and does a great job at recreating the atmosphere of life in Texas during the mid 1800’s. It was hard to know who to feel sorry for at times: the parents of the kidnapped children, or the children who were then forced to return to their biological families. Most of captives wanted nothing more than to remain with the Indians who they so ...more
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! About white kids, mostly children of German settlers, in Texas, who were kidnapped by Indians in the 1860's & 1870's. Almost all these kids, once returned to their families, viewed their time with the Indians, whether a few months or a number of years, as the best of their lives. And that view continued into adulthood. And they had that view even when the raid in which they were kidnapped resulted in the torture & death of their family members.

And that view is understandable. For e
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
There have been captivity narrative books before including some by former captives. Zesch went beyond many of these in his quest, interviewing surviving relatives, digging into dusty archives and meeting with Comanche elders to gain a better understanding of tribal ways. He does not romanticize about the hardships of life on the frontier or that of the Native Americans. Nor does he mince in showing that compassion and brutality were not restricted to one side.

While Zesch found scanty records to
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great synthesis of a variety of sources into an easily readable and enjoyable account of the captivity of 5 "white indians". Very personal at times. Enlightening and perhaps provocative contrast of parenting behaviors of German settlers and Native Americans. One of the best I've read describing Native American culture and behavior. Perhaps more interesting to me because I had great aunts and uncles born in Oklahoma Indian Territory while the main players in this account were still alive. Easy re ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The personal stories compiled in this history are significant in their own right, but when they are combined with family history it becomes very compelling. Zesch does his best to combine all the disparate biographies chronologically, inserting his Uncle Adolph’s story into that timeline as accurately as he can. He draws that story from family legend and the clues sprinkled throughout other histories. So why did Uncle Adolph accept the lifestyle and beliefs of the people who kidnapped him? Why ...more
Cat Rayne
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Meticulously researched, Scott Zesch’s offering of “The Captured-A True Story is Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier” held me, ironically,captive.

Being introduced to this book as a resource used by Paulette Jiles in her research for “News Of The World” (an excellent fictional telling) it was ordered as a “someday read”.

Before shelving it along with my collection of Indian studies, I read the Zesch prologue. Three hours later I reluctantly left the book to address other life requirements.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Living in former Indian Territory and going on morning runs through leftover cross-timber that the Native Americans might once have galloped through on their stolen horses, this textbook-like rendering of a legendary Wild West drew me in immediately.

Surprisingly, Adolph Korn is far from the focus of this novel. Rather, Zesch takes us on an odyssey through the log shacks of the Texas Hill Country, to the grim plains of the Panhandles, to the dusty barracks of Fort Sill, to the grape-laden banks
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