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Goodwin, Grenville & Goodwin, Neil. The Apache diaries; a father-son journey.

Univ. of Nebraska, Bison Books. 284p. illus, notes, index, c2000. 0-8032-7102-6. $16.95. SA

In 1962, Neil Goodwin, 22, a New York State architect, and his mother were sorting through his long-dead father's belongings when they found a meticulously kept diary of his days as an amateur ethnographer studying the Apaches of New Mexico. Arizona, and Mexico. Grenville Goodwin had been but 20 and a freshman at the University of Arizona, studying ethnology, when, on October 15, 1927, the women of the secretive Apaches of the Sierra Madre Mountains murdered a woman named Maria Dolores Fimbres and kidnapped her young son Gerardo. Intrigued, Grenville abandoned his studies and for several years trekked through the dangerous mountains, learning all he could about the crime and the lives of the Apaches. He recorded his observations, complete with illustrations.

As Neil read the almost microscopic entries, he felt a powerful connection to the father who died of a brain tumor when Neil was but two months old. Neil switched vocations from architect to that of documentary filmmaker and from 1976-1999, accompanied by his son Seth, 29, and others. made six research trips into the Sierra Madre. They also sought to learn the truth about the 1927 kidnapping and murder and more about the lives of the Apaches. They discovered that deep enmity existed between the Apaches and the Mexicans, "blood feuds born of the Mexican Revolution." Mexicans caught alone in Apache territory were often killed in Nell's father's day. Kidnapping was extremely common. Maria's husband, Francisco Fimbres, was obsessed with revenge for years.

This book is based on the research of men of two generations. Excerpts from the senior Goodwin's diary alternate with responses and observations by his son. Neil's entries are based on his own experiences on his trips through the Sierra Madre, his interviews with people he encountered, and his reading of journalistic reports, the accuracy of which he often questioned. The exchange reads like a well-wrought mystery and, in the process of reading it, readers will learn of Apache life, their tribal structure, and the final years of the Apache wars. The book is dense with detail and many bloody events are necessarily recorded. It is scholarly and carefully documented and will be of interest to students in American studies and to aficionados of the history of the West. B/w photos and drawings. Libraries that serve Native Americans beyond junior high school should get it. Superb history reading.

Edna M. Boardman, Bismark, ND
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Author:Boardman, Edna M.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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