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Second Lt. George Bascom was “a fine looking fellow” and a gentleman, a white settler of Arizona recalled, “but he was unfortunately a fool.” After all, Bascom’s decision in 1861 to take hostage members of the family of Apache warrior Cochise to force him to return a 12-year-old boy the Apaches had not, in fact, kidnapped, and then to hang the chief’s brother and nephews in retaliation for the torture and murder of the captives the Indians had taken, ignited a war that would devastate the Southwestern frontier. In “The Wrath of Cochise” (Pegasus Books, 322 pages, $27.95), Terry Mort provides a riveting account of the incident. Drawing on the work of anthropologists as well as historians to reconstruct the culture, way of life and behavioral norms of the Chiricahuas (Apaches) and Army officers trained at West Point, and supplementing established facts with informed speculation, Mort challenges “the formulaic melodrama” in which Indians are portrayed as victims and soldiers as blundering oppressors.
Review: 'The Wrath of Cochise: The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars,' by Terry Mort (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/23) Related Stories:
Review: Books revisit dark chapter of US history with Apaches (4/22)