jueves, 29 de marzo de 2018

The Apache Wars

The Apache Wars (Broadway Books, 2017)
by Paul Andrew Hutton
USA, 2016

Outstanding narrative history of the Apache wars and the resulting "trail of blood" (2) left during the contest for control of Apachería (i.e. Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas on one side of the present day border and Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila on the other) c. 1861-1886.  While loosely organized around the life stories of one semi-legendary Apache and one white captive raised among the tribe, University of New Mexico history professor Paul Andrew Hutton's rich, compelling text is such that it's easy to understand why one pro reviewer was moved to gaudily but not inaccurately champion the work as "an epic tale filled with Homeric scenes and unforgettable characters."  That being said, I should stress that Hutton's nonfiction song of rage prob. isn't for the faint of heart even at this far remove from the succession of tragic events described.  Mass quantities of massacres, mutilations and revenge killings rarely make for easy reading, of course, but even the one short paragraph dedicated to scalping techniques here was just a little TMI for me.  Still, a great read both for its bullet point insights into its cast of characters' character--the territorial governor of New Mexico: "The highest dictates of humanity demanded [the Jicarilla Apaches'] extinction" (75); Geronimo: "I have killed many Mexicans.  I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them.  Some of them were not worth counting" (304)--and for the cruel ironies to be found hidden among the storytelling rubble on the canyon floor (Hutton points out that "more than a third of [General] Sheridan's soldiers," those intent on removing the Apaches from their native lands in 1885, were actually, "like the general himself, foreign-born immigrants to the United States" [355]).

Paul Andrew Hutton

4 comentarios:

  1. Ooh, I want to read this. Later, back in America. Thanks for the pointer.

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    1. My pleasure, Tom. I believe this is a very different type of history than Hämäläinen's The Comanche Empire--a book I often associate with you--but I expect you'll find it similarly arresting.

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  2. This sounds excellent. A few years ago I read Robert Utley’s biography of Geronimo which was a very worthwhile book. The Apache’s were a fascinating people. I also have trouble reading about atrocities. I am getting more squeamish as I get older.

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    1. Definitely a fascinating read, Brian, and one that surprised me for its page-turning qualities among other things. Glad you enjoyed Utley's Geronimo bio. I've heard nothing but good things about it, and Hutton singles out Utley in the acknowledgements for having been "a fount of wisdom" during Hutton's writing of The Apache Wars and "my mentor in western history since 1976." Nice historian bloodlines there!

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