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Robert M. Utley

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A fast-paced  biography of the famous Apache fighter Geronimo, with new material revealing the man behind the legend

"Geronimo shines a harsh, clear light that cuts through the legend to reveal who this fighting man really was.”—Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast 

“Compact, crisply written and provocative. . . . Utley peels away the legend to reveal a complex and difficult man whose life began in a world untouched by American civilization and extended into the twentieth century.’”—Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal

"Brilliantly researched and clearly written. . . . Utley, the great historian of the American West, adeptly fleshes out the man from the myth. A stunning achievement!"—Douglas Brinkley

Renowned for ferocity in battle, legendary for an uncanny ability to elude capture, feared for the violence of his vengeful raids, the Apache fighter Geronimo captured the public imagination in his own time and remains a figure of mythical proportion today. This thoroughly researched biography by a renowned historian of the American West strips away the myths and rumors that have long obscured the real Geronimo and presents an authentic portrait of a man with unique strengths and weaknesses and a destiny that swept him into the fierce storms of history.

Historian Robert Utley draws on an array of new sources and his own lifelong research on the mountain West and white-Indian conflicts of the late nineteenth century to create an updated, accurate, and highly exciting narrative of Geronimo's life. Utley unfolds the story through the alternating perspectives of whites and Apaches, and he arrives at a more nuanced understanding of Geronimo's character and motivation than ever before. What it was like to be an Apache fighter-in-training, why Indians as well as whites feared Geronimo, how Geronimo maintained his freedom, and why he finally surrendered—the answers to these questions and many more fill the pages of this irresistable volume.

Winner of the Western Writers of America's Spur Award and of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Wrangler Award


Robert M. Utley is the award-winning author of seventeen books on western American history. During his career with the National Park Service he served as chief historian and assistant director. He lives in Scottsdale, AZ.

"[A] sure-to-be-a-classic book. . . . Fast-paced and engrossing.”—Wild West

 “The most complete, scholarly study of Geronimo’s life from birth to death I have ever read.”—Howard Lamar, Yale University

“Completely original and very well sourced. In this, Utley continues the high standard of his earlier books. . . . His careful weighing of evidence and ferreting out of story lines from far-flung and sometimes conflicting sources are impressive throughout.”—Walter Nugent, University of Notre Dame

"An unflinching and engrossing chronicle of Geronimo’s life and times. Drawing upon his mastery of western military history and his ear for good stories, Robert Utley brings a remarkable and bloody era to life."—Brian DeLay, author of War of a Thousand Deserts

"[Utley’s] long career as a Western American historian, his association with the National Park Service, and his close attention to the topographic detail of the Apache homeland guarantee a true picture of the man who was neither hero nor thug. Geronimo was never a chief, but he had a mysterious, surreal power that left his people in awe, and often in fear, of him.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Meticulous and finely researched. . . . Utley achieves his goal of humanizing Geronimo, fastidiously showing the transition from bloodthirsty raider to subservient prisoner of war, fair attraction, and, eventually, entrepreneur.”—Publishers Weekly

“This biography by historian Robert Utley draws on new literature and historical sources, stripping away the rumors. It tells Geronimo’s story from both the white and Apache perspectives—what it was like to be an Apache fighter, how Geronimo stayed free and why he finally surrendered.”—Caspar [WY] Star-Tribune

"Robert Utley's Geronimo is a brilliantly researched and clearly written biography of the Chiricahua Apache leader whose legend never dies. Utley, the great historian of the American West, adeptly fleshes out the man from the myth. A stunning achievement!"—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

“Owing to Utley’s use of Mexican archival resources and newspapers, this now stands as the most up-to-date and comprehensive biographical study of Geronimo.”—Nathan Bender, Library Journal 

“Utley is widely regarded as dean of Western American historians. . . . He has read virtually everything written about Geronimo and produced a highly factual, easy-to-read biography. . . . Geronimo shines a harsh, clear light that cuts through the legend to reveal who this fighting man really was and how American might ended his warrior ways.”—Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast 

“Given the merciless nature of warfare in the American Southwest, it has always been difficult to remain objective about the character and exploits of the Apache warrior Geronimo. Still, Utley, acclaimed biographer and chronicler of the Indian wars, has made a valiant effort. . . . Utley succeed[s] in describing the human being behind the violent, almost demonic, image.”—Jay Freeman, Booklist 

"[Utley] brings a lifetime of knowledge about the Indians of the American Southwest to a search for the ‘real’ Geronimo.  . . . The Apache leader, he concludes, was a complex and contradictory man, by turns defiant and submissive.”—Glenn Altschuler, Tulsa World 

“Robert Utley is an accomplished and meticulous historian, with a solid grasp of the history of the American West. . . . Utley . . . has followed Geronimo skillfully through his various escapes from Union soldiers . . . [until], while remaining under guard as a prisoner of war, [Geronimo] ended up as a kind of American celebrity.”—Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books 
“Geronimo famously eluded the United States Army during his lifetime, and he has been dodging historians since his death. Robert M. Utley, a distinguished chronicler of the West and author of a biography of Sitting Bull, is the latest to make the chase, and he has succeeded as well as anyone will.”—H. W. Brands, Washington Post 

"This fascinating account of the Native American freedom fighter paints a complex picture of the warrior’s shocking violence."—Sunday Times

"Robert M. Utley’s scholarly biography of ‘the most famous North American Indian of all time’ is treading . . . on sensitive ancestral ground – but strides in fearlessly. For this slender book is a potent challenge to Geronimo’s status within the ‘heroic mould’ of noble Indian chiefs such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse... Utley has dissected [Geronimo’s life] with forensic rigour. . . . If you are intrigued by the real Apache behind the burning ranches and scattered corpses of Cormac McCarthy’s novels or John Ford’s films, then this is a valuable and recommended read."— Brian Schofield, Sunday Times

“Compact, crisply written and provocative. . . . Utley peels away the legend to reveal a complex and difficult man whose life began in a world untouched by American civilization and extended into the twentieth century.’”—Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal

"The depth of Utley's research, his impressive command of the military history of the Southwest, and his sharp eye for detail will likely make this book the standard by which all other works on Geronimo will be judged for years to come."—Tim Hull, Tucson Weekly

"A revision of previous accounts that portray Geronimo as a heroic figure fighting to preserve his homeland."—Choice

"[A] professionally researched and written book that gives the reader a condensed description of Geronimo and provides thoughtful observations about the legend's complex life. It is definitely a worthwhile read for those interested in Apaches or the Wild West."—Bud Shapard, Journal of Arizona History

“Utley is at his best in offering details of the many military missions led by a numerous list of army officers who were thwarted by Geronimo’s ability to be elusive . . .”—Paul D. Travis, Texas Woman’s University

Honorable Mention at the 2012 Southern California Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category

Won the 2013 Spur Award for Best Western Nonfiction-Biography given by Western Writers of America.

 Winner of the 2013 Wrangler Award in the Literary Nonfiction category, given by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Honorable Mention at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category

Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Southeast Book Festival in the Biography category, given by JM Northern Media LLC.

Shortlisted for the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, Reading the West Book Awards in the Adult Nonfiction category.
ISBN: 9780300126389
Publication Date: November 15, 2012
376 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
27 b/w illus. + 13 maps
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