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Renowned for ferocity in battle, legendary for an uncanny ability to elude capture, feared for the violence of his vengeful raids, the Apache fighter Geronimo captured the public imagination in his own time and remains a figure of mythical proportion today. This thoroughly researched biography by a renowned historian of the American West strips away the myths and rumors that have long obscured the real Geronimo and presents an authentic portrait of a man with unique strengths and weaknesses and a destiny that swept him into the fierce storms of history.
Historian Robert Utley draws on an array of new sources and his own lifelong research on the mountain West and white-Indian conflicts of the late nineteenth century to create an updated, accurate, and highly exciting narrative of Geronimo's life. Utley unfolds the story through the alternating perspectives of whites and Apaches, and he arrives at a more nuanced understanding of Geronimo's character and motivation than ever before. What it was like to be an Apache fighter-in-training, why Indians as well as whites feared Geronimo, how Geronimo maintained his freedom, and why he finally surrendered—the answers to these questions and many more fill the pages of this irresistable volume.
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A conversation with Robert M. Utley
Q: Why Geronimo?
A: Geronimo is the best-known North American Indian of all time. His name continues to resonate with the public even though he was a lesser leader than most other Indian leaders. A major biography has not appeared since 1976, and I wanted to do for Geronimo what I did for Sitting Bull: discover the real person within his own culture.
Q: How does this compare to your biography of Sitting Bull, The Lance and the Shield?
A: Sitting Bull was less challenging because of ample documentation, and I believe the real person does emerge. It remains my best of sixteen books unless eclipsed by Geronimo. I think I captured the real Geronimo, but the public will decide.
Q: What made Geronimo tick?
A: Many influences made Geronimo tick, not least his culture, which was not only spiritual but also centered on a raid-and-war lifestyle. In the latter he strove to become the greatest but never succeeded. After Geronimo surrendered and spent twenty-three years as a prisoner of war, other influences made him tick into a different person—a celebrity in the white man’s world. In this he excelled.
Q: What was the most moving thing you learned in researching Geronimo’s life?
A: The most moving, or surprising, revelation was that in Geronimo’s last two years of freedom, his mastery of Mexican geography allowed him to elude his pursuers so constantly that his greatest achievement in war was in avoiding war.
Praise for Robert M. Utley’s The Lance and the Shield:
"Gripping. . . . Mr. Utley transforms Sitting Bull, the abstract, romanticized icon and symbol, into a flesh-and-blood person with a down-to-earth story. . . . The Lance and the Shield clears the screen of the exaggerations and fantasies long directed at the name of Sitting Bull."—New York Times Book ReviewAbout the Author:
Robert M. Utley is the award-winning author of seventeen books on western American history. During his career with the National Park Service he served as chief historian and assistant director. He lives in Scottsdale, AZ.
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