The New Mexico Territory of the 1880s was a land in transition. American settlers were faced with a hostile country governed by ex-Union general Lew Wallace, and inhabited by Apache Indians who fight resettlement on a reservation. The tribe is led by Victorio, a great war chief, but he is killed in an ambush by Mexican soldiers in Mexico. This book tells the story of the elder chief, named Nana, as he tries to avenge the killing of Victorio by leading raids in New Mexico Territory, killing white settlers in his rampage. Colonel Edward Hatch, leader of the U.S. Army’s Ninth Cavalry, is ordered to capture Nana. Colonel Hatch is looking for advancement and eventual transfer to the East, away from this desolate country. His story becomes as important at times as that of the Apache tribe that fights resettlement.
Mr. DeWitt is famous for his cookbooks, and Avenging Victorio is his first novel since 1979. I thought he did a fine job developing his characters, something not always easy when trying to write about famous people in history, such as Lew Wallace. My only complaint is that his inserting of historical data into the dialog became annoying at times. But the author definitely knows his subject matter, as he weaves the plight of the Apache Indians with that of the cavalry trying to capture them.