Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the West has heard the name Geronimo. One of the greatest warriors of the notorious Apaches of Arizona, Geronimo commanded respect for his daring, resourcefulness and raw courage that stymied two armies for decades.
So when I came across this gem I felt my heart leap with anticipation. Plenty of books have been written by military men who fought Apaches and others, but a book written by one of the warriors himself? And one of their best leaders no less? This my friends is an absolute treasure.
In this book Geronimo covers many portions of his life, from when he was young, to some of his later battles, and during his many years as a prisoner of war. Many aspects of Apache life are covered, from weddings, domestic life, to warfare and religion. I find it surprising however that Geronimo covers conspicuously little of his fights against American soldiers. He defers far more often to fighting against Mexicans. And he seems to cover his failures more often than his successes. I suspect these may be due to a combination of humility, and perhaps the military editors not being terribly keen on him describing how he gave them the slip for so long. However I have no evidence to support either suspicion, and I could be dreadfully wrong on both. He was a man of strong will, and if he didn't have a mind to discuss something, he simply wouldn't do so.
However, upon reading this entire thing, one truly gets the feeling that they knew not just the warrior, but the man as a human being. One feels his pain and loss, his frustration and anxiety, but also his stoic resolve in the face of difficult circumstances and even love for some of the better things he found later in life. One of my favorite chapters is actually when he visited the fair, meeting people from many other countries and watching performers. Of all his words in the book, it is his last ones that perhaps strike me the strongest: "I wish all of my people could have attended the Fair."
It's in these last chapters that one feels his sorrow and sadness, having born so many burdens, and yet one can feel a touch of happiness and reserved hope for the future. In these words over a century old one can still sense the resolute strength and power that guided one of history's greatest warriors. One almost feels as though they are listening to him speak around the campfire, recalling pleasant and poor memory alike. I find this beyond fascinating, and it is an absolute gem of literature.
I highly encourage anyone and everyone to read this book! I loved every page, and I hope that others can get the same pleasure from it that I did.