Friday, June 29, 2012

Guy Friday-- Outlaws

Wilson, John. Victorio's War. 
May 2012, Orca

I got excited when I saw a new book by the great John Wilson, but wish I had known that this was book #3 in the series. It would have made more sense!(Digital book checked out from public library.)

James Doolan is taken to Chihuahua, Mexico as a prisoner with a group of Apache women and children who will be enslaved. Since he is an American, he is freed when he runs into an old friend, Santiago. The two catch up with all of the things that Jim has been doing since they last met. 

The West in 1880 was a rough-and tumble place with a lot of fighting over territory and property. Victorio and his band of Apaches are supposed to go to a reservation, which would stop the fighting, but the removal of the army would also hurt the local economy. This isn't too much of a concern because Victorio continues to raid farms in the area. Doolan tells of previous conflicts during which he ran into Victorio-- when the leader took his forces into Mexico and were followed by the Buffalo Soldiers even though it was illegal. When the Mexicans were not happy with Victorio, he took his troops back to the states where they continued to get into trouble. For a while, Doolan was captured by Wellington, who fought with Victorio and considered Doolan to be a replacement for his son. Victorio's forces try to stay alive and have lots of fights with authorities, but eventually get trapped, surrender, and move to the reservation.
Strengths: Wilson's books always have LOTS of fighting, action and adventure. There are few newer books on the Old West, and I think that this series might be a good place for students who have not previously been interested in the time period to start their reading. Then they can move on to some Zane Gray!
Weaknesses: Obviously, starting with the third book put me at a disadvantage. The flashbacks made me even more confused. The series is published by Orca, so is available only in e book and paperback formats, but I might spring for prebind copies.

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