Jay Tavare: Apache leader was a hero in German author's books

"Imagine being locked up in a prison where all you can do is read historic books about the Southwest United States and dream of how the American Indian warriors roamed the deserts of Arizona on horseback, free as the wind and as one with the elements. That is exactly what Karl May, one of the most famous authors in German history, did 100 years ago while he was incarcerated for petty crimes he had committed in his early years.

Even though his books have sold more than 150 million copies and have been translated into multiple languages, most Americans have never heard of Karl May or his stories. But in his native country Germany, Karl May's books and the characters that drive them have become part of the fabric of German culture. Just like in the U.S., many Germans grew up playing cowboys and Indians, but because of Karl May's stories, they all wanted to be the Native American instead of the cowboy.

The lead characters in his books -- Winnetou, a magnificent Mescalero Apache Chief, and his counterpart, a German nobleman named Shatterhand who packed a power punch (played by Lex Barker, known to many Americans for his role as Tarzan) -- were like the American story of Tonto and the Lone Ranger, except in Karl May's books, the Apache was no sidekick to his white partner -- no kemosabe. He was the hero in his own right."

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Jay Tavare: Winnetou: The German Apache (The Huffington Post 6/15)

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