HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Geronimo: The Last Apache War Chief
Author: Edgar Wyatt
Illustrator: Allan Houser
Publisher: McGraw-Hill, republished in 1977
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Wyatt, Edgar. Geronimo: The Last Apache War Chief (published in 1952 by McGraw-Hill Book Company). When they were smaller, both of our boys went through a phase where they loved to hear about American Indians. I specifically recall three books which we checked out of the library, a couple of biographies about Sitting Bull and this one about the Apache war chief Geronimo, originally named Goyahkla, born June 26, 1929, to the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache near Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Gila River in the modern-day state of New Mexico, then part of Mexico, but which his family considered Bedonkohe land. His grandfather Mako had been chief of the Bedonkohe Apache. He had three brothers and four sisters and was raised according to Apache traditions. After the death of his father, his mother took him to live with the Chihenne, and he married a woman named Alope with whom he had three children.
On Mar. 6, 1858, a company of 400 Mexican soldiers from Sonora led by Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco attacked Geronimo’s camp outside Janos while the men were in town trading. Among those killed were Geronimo’s wife, his children, and his mother. His chief, Mangas Coloradas, sent him to Cochise’s band for help in revenge against the Mexicans. It was the Mexicans who named him Geronimo. While Geronimo said he was never a chief, he was a military leader. As a Chiricahua Apache, this meant he was one of many people with special spiritual insights and abilities known to Apache people as “Power.” Though outnumbered, Geronimo fought against both Mexican and United States troops and became famous for his daring exploits and numerous escapes from capture from 1858 to 1886.
In 1886, General Nelson A. Miles selected Captain Henry Lawton and First Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood to lead the expedition that captured Geronimo. After being constantly pursued with little or no time to rest or stay in one place, the little band of Apaches returned with Lawton and officially surrendered to General Miles on September 4, 1886, at Skeleton Canyon, AZ. Geronimo and other Apaches were sent as prisoners to Fort Pickens, in Pensacola, FL. Then in May 1887, they were transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks, AL, for seven years. In 1894, they were moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 1905, Geronimo agreed to tell his story to S. M. Barrett, Superintendent of Education in Lawton, OK. In Feb., 1909, Geronimo was thrown from his horse while riding home, and had to lie in the cold all night before a friend found him extremely ill. He died of pneumonia on Feb, 17, 1909. This book comes from a day when some wonderful biographies about important characters in history were being written for young people. We enjoyed reading it very much.