Academic journal article American Studies

Geronimo

Academic journal article American Studies

Geronimo

Article excerpt

GERONIMO. By Robert M. Utley. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2012.

In the case of Geronimo, the newest book by Robert Utley, the stature of the author is perhaps only minimally eclipsed by that of his subject. Utley, a long- practicing western historian and veteran of the National Park Service, has added another engaging volume to an admirable corpus. In this latest work, a biography of Chiricahua Apache leader Geronimo, Utley sets out to identify "the real person beneath the legend" (x).

In so doing, Utley seeks to correct previous works of academic and public history that have, as he puts it, "obscured" the complexity behind the legend (268). Although the extent to which one can identify the "reality" of an individual is debat- able, Utley successfully traces Geronimo's days from his childhood in the Southwest, to his armed resistance to American and Mexican forces, to his eventual death at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Organized chronologically, each chapter treats a clearly demarcated episode of Geronimo's life such as "Apache Youth" and "Geronimo's Second Break- out." Although Utley's focus is Geronimo the individual, he excels at describing the military strategies and maneuvers of both the Apache writ large as well as the United States and Mexican armies. With a keen attention to detail and campaign strategy, Utley adds contingency and suspense to a sweeping period of military campaigns and diplomatic negotiations amongst a triad of groups battling for control of the Southwest. Utley's contention that Geronimo's actions were less central to Apache politics than that of contemporary Apache leaders is utterly convincing. …

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