The best books about the Apache

4 authors have picked their favorite books about the Apache and why they recommend each book.

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By Darcie Little Badger, Rovina Cai (illustrator),

Book cover of Elatsoe

This YA novel is unquestionably one of my all time favourite reads. It’s about an asexual Apache girl with her ghost-dog sidekick in a world full of magic including faeries and vampires. The prose, the plot, the characters, the narrative structure—it was all brilliant and brought to life the story of a girl who can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill from her Lipan Apache family. A story that could’ve remained delightfully cute and sweet takes a decidedly darker turn when Elatsoe’s cousin is the picture-perfect town of Willowbee. As Elatsoe begins to investigate, she uncovers some seriously gruesome secrets in an alternate version of small-town America shaped by magic and monsters.

Who am I?

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fan of horror, I have recently found myself drawn to darker books—especially at this time of the year with Halloween just around the corner. As a bisexual non-binary person, I love finding books with diverse LGBT+ rep in them, so these are just a few of the spookier LGBT+ books I think would make for great autumnal reading. Plus, my own book—My Name is Magic—features all kinds of mythological werebeasties and a race to save the day before the traditional Finnish Kekri festival, an equivalent of Halloween, although it involves less candy and more fire.

I wrote...

My Name Is Magic

By Xan van Rooyen,

Book cover of My Name Is Magic

What is my book about?

Despite coming from a long line of powerful Finnish mages, and their name literally meaning magic, Taika can’t perform the simplest of spells. Life at Myrskyjärvi International School for the Magically Gifted goes from bad to worse when Taika sees a liekkiö and recognizes the spirit's voice begging for help as that of their former BFF/major crush whose recent absence from class hadn’t gone unnoticed. When more students go missing, Taika leads a race against time to save friends old and new before a powerful group of chaos mages can destroy everything Taika holds dear.

For fans of witchcraft and wizardry looking for an inclusive story, My Name Is Magic is a story about finding strength from within and potential where you least expect it.

The Apache Diaspora

By Paul Conrad,

Book cover of The Apache Diaspora: Four Centuries of Displacement and Survival

When we think of slavery in American History, we mostly think of African Americans enslaved by white settlers. Paul Conrad tells a different story. Focusing on the Apache and through the often poignant stories of particular Apache women and men over the course of four centuries, he details their experience as shifting webs of alliance led to their enslavement by the Spanish and the Mexicans on the North American mainland and Cuba, and imprisoned and held in unfreedom by the United States through the 1880s, and yet still holding onto their identity as a distinct people with a distinct culture.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

I wrote...

Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

By Sarah Deutsch,

Book cover of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

What is my book about?

The West played a far larger role in national politics and constructing a “modern” U.S. than is usually thought. It helped shape not only racial formations and key industries, but definitions of modernity itself. Oil workers, migrant laborers, women’s rights activists, corporate moguls, revolutionaries, and others duke it out in these pages. 

Their legacy was complicated—a reliance on precarious low-wage labor and at the same time large-scale public enterprise and a powerful state. Those who struggled, from across the globe and the nation, also kept alive an American dream and American belonging, a notion of democracy that was broader than political participation. Contests over who would participate in that democracy, who would define “American”—would be carried into the 21st century.

Hondo (Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures)

By Louis L'Amour,

Book cover of Hondo (Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures)

This book is a great read by Louis L'Amour, who’s arguably one of the greatest Western writers to ever live.

L'Amour executes the book brilliantly, placing a woman and her six-year-old son in grave danger from some angry, fired-up Apaches, who are on the warpath.

All that stands between them and their safety is one tough man and his dog.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the Wild West since I was a little boy, playing Cowboy vs Indian with a plastic six-shooter and bow-and-arrow set. I grew up watching movies and reading books about the Wild West, and probably that sense of adventure and necessary courage required in such settings helped build the foundation that led me to join the Marines. It took guts to move out West. (Or desperation.) But either way, the settling of the Wild West is one of our core American stories. To me, the stories of the West are even more enthralling today than they were even fifty years ago.

I wrote...

Little Man, and the Dixon County War

By Stan R. Mitchell, Danah Mitchell (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Man, and the Dixon County War

What is my book about?

Good vs evil. Right vs wrong. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And when a young lawman pins on a badge in the West, he’ll find out why most (honest) lawmen end up dead.

(But if you're still not convinced, there's also loads of action, gunplay, and an abducted woman, who even the U.S. Marshal won't go save.)

The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard wrote a ton of books, and almost all of them were darn good. He’s most famous for his more modern books, Get Shorty, etc. His stories are raw, edgy, and exciting. Toward the very end of his career, he did crank out some novels that were, I thought, junk. But for the most part, his writing is terrific, easy to read, page-turning books. What many don’t know is that when he was young, he was writing Westerns. And wow, what fabulous Westerns, too! If you’re lucky enough to get a copy of this collection, you’ll both love it, and feel kind of bad when you get to the end. One of the very best Western writers of them all.

Who am I?

I am best known for my books on allergies and horticulture. But my first love was always writing fiction, and the first two books I ever sold, were both novels. I know a lot about exciting historical novels because I’ve read so many of them. I read; I don’t watch TV. I love history, and historical fiction that has good, strong characters that I can give a hoot about. And I love books that are full of action, where something exciting is always happening or just about to. A plug: I believe I’ve now written some books myself that fit that bill.

I wrote...

Cowboys Don't Shoot Magpies

By Thomas Leo Ogren,

Book cover of Cowboys Don't Shoot Magpies

What is my book about?

In 1866, two kids, Heidi, 12, and JoJo, 7, are suddenly orphaned and alone in the middle of the wild West. Danger lurks around every bend in the trail. They are hundreds of miles from the nearest town. Accompanied by JoJo’s pet magpie and his one-eyed wolf-dog, One-Eyed Jack, they start walking, heading west.

This story has been a hit with all who have read it. A 6th-grade teacher read it, a chapter at a time, as a treat for her students, all of whom loved it. They begged me to write a sequel, which I’ve just finished called Talking to Magpies. One reader wrote that he bought a Kindle version, started to read it in the morning, and didn’t stop until 9 pm when he’d finished it.

Shadows at Dawn

By Karl Jacoby,

Book cover of Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History

The Arizona territory was an intersection for people from many different cultures, and they sometimes did horrible things to one another. This is the story of the brutal Camp Grant Massacre of 1871, one of the pivotal events in the war on the aboriginal tribes in the Arizona Territory. This is a difficult book to read as it lays bare the inherent racism of the so-called settlers of the territory, and uncompromisingly addresses their genocidal inclinations. Worse, it shows how the policies of the U.S. Government encouraged such acts of mass murder. Though one hundred of the participants, including a number of upstanding citizens from Pima County, were indicted for 108 counts of murders, and tried, not one was found guilty. A shameful, but important history.

Who am I?

There is nothing I detest more than what I have dubbed the “John Wayne Mythos” – the idea the West was populated with righteous gunslingers going about “taming” the West by killing anyone who was not abiding by or submitting to white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant standards and morality. The West, of which Arizona was an integral part, was much more complex than this, and the heroes of legend were oft-times the real-life villains. I consider myself to be a historian of the “New Western History” school, which recast the study of American frontier history by focusing on race, class, gender, and environment in the trans-Mississippi West.

I wrote...

The Bisbee Massacre: Robbery, Murder and Retribution in the Arizona Territory, 1883-1884

By David Grassé,

Book cover of The Bisbee Massacre: Robbery, Murder and Retribution in the Arizona Territory, 1883-1884

What is my book about?

In December 1883, five outlaws attempted to rob the A.A. Castaneda Mercantile establishment in the fledgling mining town of Bisbee in the Arizona Territory. The robbery was a disaster: four citizens shot dead, one a pregnant woman. The failed heist was national news, with the subsequent manhunt, trial, and execution of the alleged perpetrators followed by newspapers from New York to San Francisco. The Bisbee Massacre was as momentous as the infamous blood feud between the Earp brothers and the cowboys two years earlier and led to the only recorded lynching in the town of Tombstone--John Heath, a sporting man, who was thought to be the mastermind. New research indicates he may have been innocent.

This comprehensive history takes a fresh look at the event that marked the end of the Wild West period in the Arizona Territory.

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