"Enjoyably fast-paced and intelligently written, a vivid sketch of the early 20th-century West."
A riveting epic shot...a deftly rendered tale of survival, self-discovery, and the precarious boundaries between man and beast.
Depicting the dusty Depression-era West this grandly, cinematically imagined sweat- and bloodstained saga, inspired by events that took place in Arizona and south of the border in the Sierra Madre badlands, dramatizes latter-day conflicts between whites and Native Americans. During the fall of 1999, an obscure, financially struggling photographer, Ned Giles-now in his early 80s-sells, for $30,000, La Nina Bronca, his only copy of a photo of a young Apache girl lying on the rude floor of a Mexican jail cell; the buyer's curiosity about the picture's provenance sparks Ned's memories. The rest of the book, set in 1932, reveals a legacy of heroism and lost love through Ned's scrupulously detailed diaries, which vividly recount a nightmare of harrowing misadventures beginning the day he signs on to be a part of the Great Apache Expedition, one of dozens of men hoping to free the son of a wealthy Mexican rancher kidnapped by the Apaches. (The wild Apache girl will be used as ransom.) The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks, intermingling short passages from the third-person POV of the fierce Apache girl and first-person excerpts from the diaries of the 17-year-old Chicagoan photographer on his first big assignment. Fergus (One Thousand White Women) makes unforgettable characters move against vivid landscapes in this laudable encore. Agent, Al Zuckerman at Writers House. 5-city author tour. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Historical adventure with a conscience set in 1930s Mexico. At a retrospective of his work in 1999, crusty, impoverished photographer Ned Giles sells his last print of La Nina Bronca, the lithe, wild Apache Indian girl whom he stumbled on, starving, in a Mexican jail when he was 17 and whose portrait made his career. Newly orphaned Ned had left Depression Chicago for the lure of the Great Apache Expedition in Arizona, organized ostensibly to rescue a kidnapped boy but in fact to give rich whites an excuse for a hunting jaunt (by this time, the Apaches of the Sierra Madre are in actuality being driven from the land and bounty-hunted to extinction). A sequence of lucky breaks lands Ned a role on the exclusive expedition, along with training as a photographer. He and other colorful members of the group-Tolley, a privileged gay; Margaret, an anthropology student; Albert and Joseph, two Apache scouts-liberate La Nina Bronca (real name: Chideh) and try to swap her for the kidnapped boy but are themselves captured by the Native Americans, led by a white man, a famous kidnap victim himself named Charley McComas. Now it's Chideh's turn to save the whites from torture and rape-in Ned's case by claiming him for her husband. After bursts of violence and derring-do, trips between the two camps, and an idyll for Ned and Chideh, villainous Police Chief Gatlin and the Mexican colonel force a confrontation between the Apache and the "White Eyes," an event that naturally results in betrayal, bloodshed and dispersal, as well as constituting a rite of passage for Ned. Chideh (possibly pregnant), Margaret, and Albert disappear with the Apaches, leaving Ned to a long life of photojournalism and ruefulreflection. Fergus (One Thousand White Women, 1988) writes simply and sincerely in a brisk tale that offers a compassionate portrait of the beleaguered Native Americans. Still, predictable in form and stereotyped in character, it rarely rises above the conventional. Author tour