From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua Apaches, 1874-1886
Edwin R. Sweeney
I am writing this book review, not because Ed Sweeney is one of my best friends, but because he has written, by far, the best overall book on the Apache Wars. I like to tell my friends that I have known Ed since 10 BC (Before Cochise, his first major work) so that would date his scholarly interest in Apache studies at several decades. Ed and I were in our early twenties and now we are both grandfathers. In gathering his information, Ed spent much time at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and almost every depository throughout the United States containing information on the Apaches. He also took many trips into Mexico to take pictures and to gather records that he translated in order to extract the valuable information within.
Admiring his interest in their people, the Apaches at Mescalero embraced Ed's efforts and he now has many friends among them and has been privileged to attend interesting ceremonies that have helped him understand "The People" better. Ed has also walked the ground where many important events took place. Most are not easy to find, but his persistence has paid off and has led to several important discoveries.
From Cochise to Geronimo covers the period after Cochise's death in 1874 to Geronimo's final surrender in 1886 in more detail than any other work to date. Ed has been able to fill in much of the void in all previous treatments on the Apache wars, but this is not to take anything away from the great historian, Dan L. Thrapp, a person deeply admired by Ed. Through his Mexican archives efforts and intense study of the Morris Opler Papers, Ed has been able to fill in details that Dan correctly suspected. Dan was one of Ed's mentors and would have applauded his achievements.
Ed has not only brought out new information on the principals, but also much on many on the periphery, such as Jelikine, Bonito, Chatto and Zele, all of whom were instrumental in adding to this period's tapestry. Even well-versed, or perhaps especially the well-versed in Apache history, will be amazed at his depth of research and findings.
New books on the Apache Wars will continue to be published, but I feel confident that for comprehensiveness none will eclipse From Cochise to Geronimo.
This review submitted by Daniel D. Aranda, Las Cruces, N.M. on 4-8-11