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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Apache Devil: Edgar Rice Burroughs - Book Review

apache devil argosyWhen we last left Shoz-Dijiji he had been spurned by Wichita Billings and returned to his people with no intention of ever seeing her again but as this is a Burroughs adventure we know these crazy kids can’t stay apart for long.The book Apache Devil is not a story of two star-crossed lovers as its main narrative thrust is following the last days of the great Apache war chief Geronimo and tracks the historical accounts rather well without turning into a dry historical text which was the biggest problem with I am a Barbarian another of Burroughs historical books.

The novel deals with Geronimo and his people as they try and stay off the “war trail” but with the constant restrictions of reservation life and the cheating by the government agents he is unable to keep his young braves from seeking war. Geronimo just wants to leave peacefully with his family, raise crops and livestock but he will not do so at the expense of his honor. Thus Geronimo and the Apaches are hounded back and forth across the Mexican border by United States troops as well as Mexican military but Geronimo’s real downfall is due to the United States army enlisting other tribes to aid in the hunting and fighting of Geronimo and his people as it is very difficult to stay ahead or hide from ones who know all your tactics and are as well versed with the lands as you are.
This leads to Geronimo eventually surrendering to General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon in 1886 but though Geronimo and the remaining Apaches with him agree to leave the land that has been their home for countless generations one Apache does not… Shoz-Dijiji will never surrender.

This leads back to the problem I had with The War Chief and that is when Shoz-Dijiji is depicted a such a badass who would rather die than surrender we are left thinking, “Wow, he’s the better than all of the other Apaches!” Which of course is a problem because he is actually a white guy and making him a better Apache than an actual Apache is a bit dick? As I said in my review of The War Chief all of this could have been solved if Burroughs had just made Shoz-Dijiji a full blood Apache.

Now when Shoz-Dijiji is finally told by Geronimo that he is white this information almost devastates him, nothing could be worse than to be a lying-backstabbing white eye, but this does not change who he is as though white man’s blood main be in his veins his heart is that of a true Apache. When Shoz-Dijiji and Wichita do finally meet up again, after she for the longest time though he was responsible for the murder of her father and he saves her once again from the nefarious Cheetim, she finally declares her love for him not caring that she is white and he is an Apache. The nice touch here is that Shoz-Dijiji never tells her that he is in fact white.

apache devil cover

Apache Devil is a great read and despite its few flaws provides the reader with a wonderful overview of one of America’s least shining moments.

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