Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hidden Ruin and Search in the Desert by Franklin Folsom

In The Hidden Ruin, Al Buckles and his friend, Jerry, are treated to a meal at an expensive restaurant by Al's Uncle Mac.  The Hidden Ruin Restaurant boasts that it has valuable Indian artifacts for sale that came from a secret dig.  Uncle Mac is enraged that amateurs have pillaged an ancient site.  Al and Jerry leave on a camping trip, and the boys decide to try to locate the hidden ruin, so that they can report its location.

This book also centers around Al's dispute with his father.  Al's father insists that Al play football, even though Al does not enjoy football.  Al has to find his own way, and by the end of the story, Al has figured out what he wants.  This book is similar to a coming-of-age story.

The action moves slowly in this book, although most all of the text is very interesting.  A few descriptions are way too lengthy for my taste, especially the scene in which Al struggles to climb up a steep cliff.

This book is very good.

In Search in the Desert, Joe hasn't seen his best friend from high school, Perry, in years.  Joe is shocked when Perry and his father ask him to pilot their helicopter while Perry looks for uranium on the Navaho reservation.  Joe is excited to spend time with Perry, but he soon discovers that his old friend has changed greatly.  Meanwhile, Joe becomes friends with a Navaho, Manny, who has a uranium claim on the Indian reservation. 

The reader knows from near the beginning of the story that Joe and Perry have grown apart and aren't friends any longer, although Joe hasn't figured this out yet.

This book gives insight into what the Indians were going through during the 1950s.  On page 54, a couple of men discuss how they they want to "free the Indians."  The expression, taken at face value, sounds innocuous.  One man explains the idea as follows.
"I mean we have to give them the right to sell their land if they want to.  That means getting rid of the reservations and tribal councils and the Indian Service, too.  We've made some progress.  We've already got special protection removed from several tribes.  It's only a question of time before we'll free the Navahos, too." 
Goodness.  "Freeing the Indians" meant freeing them from their reservations, and therefore, "freeing" them from their own land.

Beth refuses to be coddled by Joe.  He tries to follow her home in his vehicle, but she pulls of the road, refusing to drive further until he leaves.  This book is a boys' book written by a male author in 1955.  The content is amazing for the time.

This book is outstanding.  Much of the book deals with Joe searching for Manny, and the events flow well from one to the next.  The tension builds as Joe makes several mistakes that cause him problems with the Navaho.

It is unfortunate that neither of these books has been reprinted.  Both books are difficult to find, especially Search in the Desert.  I was only able to acquire both books easily because I decided on a whim to purchase them while nobody else was thinking about purchasing them.  This meant that the copies available online had probably been available for a long time with no one interested.  I am glad that I was able to purchase them.

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