(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Wyatt uses both fact and fiction to depict the leadership and humanity of Cochise, showing that Cochise had the qualities that would make any person a leader. He goes further than that, however; he also presents Cochise as a caring, civilized human being. He is drawn in words (and illustrations, by Apache artist Allan Houser) as a peace-loving man, a friend, and a tactful diplomat. A student of Apache culture, Wyatt confidently presents Cochise as a family man. Readers see him lifting his young son over his head and admiring the beauty and skills of his wife. When his sons are old enough to fight, he and his wife seek comfort from each other. When white people heap insult and injury on his people, Cochise sees beyond race to the basic humanity of another and tells his friend Jeffords, “The war goes on, but our friendship, too, goes on.” When General Oliver Otis Howard approaches him about peace, Cochise greets him with courtesy and openness.

If the book at times veers toward the romantic, this tendency may be justified by its purpose and structure. The peaceful ending matches the peaceful beginning, even though the death of Cochise soon after making peace with the United States government borders on the sentimental. While the vengeful actions against Native Americans, especially the destruction of the peaceful Arivaipa village by a vengeful, hysterical mob are described, similar reprisals against white villages are not described. Here it is the Native...

(The entire section is 408 words.)