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Avenging Victorio

258 pages, 16 photos
$24.95 hardcover (ISBN 978-1-890689-26-1)



FINALIST, 2007 BEST BOOKS USA BOOK NEWS
FINALIST, 2007 NEW MEXICO BOOK AWARDS
SILVER MEDALIST-HISTORICAL FICTION, 2007 BOOKS OF THE YEAR, FOREWORD MAGAZINE
FINALIST, 2007 SOUTHWEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, TUCSON-PIMA PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM
FINALIST-HISTORICAL FICTION, 2008 INDIE EXCELLENCE BOOK AWARDS

Amazon.com Review
Avenging Victorio has received a review on Amazon.com, October 13, 2007:

"The Apache "insurgency" of the 1880s in the Southwestern states and Mexico was not a part of American history I am familiar with. As a fan of historical fiction, I was looking forward to getting its flavor via this novel. The story details the events following the death of Apache leader Victorio, as his few surviving followers raided across the Southwest, evading the best efforts of the U.S. Army's Ninth Cavalry to track them down. This story alternates between the perspective of the Apache and Mescaleros led by the 74-year-old patriarch Nana, and that of various Army officers, especially Col. Edward T. Hatch who led the campaign from Santa Fe. This provides a fairly balanced framework, explaining the well-documented grievances of the Indians, as well as the aims of the expanding United States, all mixed in with the power of the popular press at the time. It's a bit slow to get started, but about a third of the way in, the background information has all been conveyed and things pick up as the Apaches raid civilian settlement and alternately evade and ambush the cavalry troops on their tail. Dewitt does a nice job conjuring atmosphere, from a fancy Santa Fe Christmas party, to Apache camp life, and the rigors of the soldiers' life on the trail. An especially nice job is done in relation to the Apache customs -- from religion, to warfare, to marriage, to politics. The various battle scenes are all quite vivid, and the tactics of both sides come alive. All that said, the novel ultimately disappoints in a crucial area. Most historical fiction -- especially when grounded so much in real events -- provides some kind of author's afterword, in which it is explained which elements of the story are real and which are invented. Alas, the reader is left to guess which characters are real and which aren't, as well as which portions of the story are invented and which aren't. For example, there's a rather substantial subplot involving secret caches of Apache gold, which as far as I can tell, are an unsubstantiated Old West legend. It's not at all clear which of the Indian-Army skirmishes were real vs. invented. More egregiously, the book ends with the Indians engineering the rather spectacular death of a major character -- a death which is wholly fictional, as in real life, the victim died peacefully years later in a different state! With a good afterword and a bibliography, this would get higher mark, but a it stands, one is left highly uncertain as to what really happened and to whom. Nonetheless, it's a decent readable story which will likely whet the reader's appetite to learn more about this episode in history.

-- Amazon.com, October 13, 2007