Review: The Apache Wars

After finally being convinced by Mari to watch Dances With Wolves, I became somewhat enamored with wanting to know more about Native Americans. This meant putting every book on Native Americans that I found on an Amazon wish list. When I ran across The Apache Wars, I thought that I should expand my blog a bit and review something in a non-theological category.

This book begins with a young boy (Felix Ward) being kidnapped by a group of Apache Indians, which sets off a chain of events with the US army leading to the longest war in American history. Felix was a half-Irish, half-Mexican who was, basically, adopted by the Apache Indians. Later renamed “Mickey Free,” he often acted as a mediator between his people(s), both the white man and the Apache. This book is comprehensive and extremely detailed (roughly 70 pages of endnotes). There is an impressive amount of names, locations, and people groups in this book. TAW is full of treacherous battles, treacherous attacks, and treachery. Welcome to the 1800s. 

This book is certainly gruesome at times, yet the gruesomeness of the imagery sheds light on how life was back in the mid to late 1800s. And besides a few good representatives, neither side had many admirable heroes. America had political figures who were as corrupt as they come now, but there were those who made a good name for themselves and represented America well. They treated the Indians as humans. This isn’t a retelling of history from the standpoint of white Americans versus Native Americans. Some “white eyes” liked and appreciated the resourcefulness, cleverness, and intelligence of the Indians (some groups at least), and some Indians in different groups did like the “white eyes” too. Unfortunately, those people were few and far between. Most wanted nothing but to exterminate the Apache Indians, which didn’t bode will with the Apache. 

I found the book hard to follow? There is a main story, but there is a smattering of names, tribes, and locations. Every time a new mountain range was introduced, I was impressed at Hutton’s breadth of knowledge, humiliated at my lack of geographical knowledge, and lost within the vase details. Dates and information jump back and forth in order to tell the story in a particular way, but in terms of chronological order, it’s difficult to keep up with . . . unless you know your American history. 

Recommended?

If you are a novice in American history, then this should not be your introduction to it. I found it difficult to keep up with each Indian tribe, what they did, what their routine and lifestyle was, and even with the Americans they dealt with. I also found it difficult to follow the main story because of all the other side stories. However, my Dad, who is a history buff, really enjoyed this book. If you enjoy American and Native American history, then this book is recommended for you. If not, you should start elsewhere and then later make your way over to TAW.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Paul Andrew Hutton
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing; 1st edition (May 3, 2016)

Buy it from Penguin Random House or Amazon!

(Special thanks to Crown Publishing for sending me this book to review!)

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