Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place Critical Essays

Angie Debo


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In her preface, Debo summarizes Geronimo’s significance in American history. Because of the length and detail involved in this biography, it was probably intended for a mature audience. The educational aspects of Geronimo, however. should be of interest to people both young and old.

The author’s personal interest in Geronimo stems from the prevalence of his name when she was growing up. Fortunately, Debo retains an objective view, showing no bias toward or against the Apaches. The author tries to avoid any sensationalism attached to Geronimo and to undo any stereotypes pertaining to him or to his tribe. Instead she reveals, as accurately as possible, the events significant to the importance of the Apaches in American history.

There is an almost mysterious tone throughout Geronimo because of the questions regarding many of the dates and locations of Apache events. For example, in chapter 1, “Goyahkla, the Child,” the first sentence states that the actual date of Geronimo’s birth is virtually unknown, despite his own testimony, which by its nature is not concerned with Western dates. This uncertainty continues throughout the book but does not become crucial in understanding the chronology of Geronimo’s life. Debo covers all aspects of Apache life, including family and religious traditions, recreational customs, and government structure. Important policies and treaties are explained throughout the text. Absent are any “cowboys and Indians” references that may tend to stereotype the Americans, Mexicans, or Native Americans during the outlining of the Apache battles.

The progression of Geronimo from a “sleepy baby” named Goyahkla, to a “red-handed murderer” during the 1880 massacre, to a piece of “commercial property” at Fort Sill clearly shows the uniqueness of Geronimo’s character. Debo devotes ample text to Geronimo’s personality in the last four chapters of the book. The chapter “Geronimo Is Seen as a Person” contains detailed accounts of people who dealt directly with Geronimo in both positive and negative...

(The entire section is 856 words.)