When I was a boy growing up in England, it was a school friend who set me down the long trail to the Wild West. He loaned me a book called Broken Arrow, which was a junior version of Elliot Arnold’s great novel Blood Brother. Broken Arrow was, of course, the title of the 1950 movie starring James Stewart and Jeff Chandler, made from Arnold’s book.
I was instantly absorbed in the story of the Chiricahua Apaches under their tragic, haunted leader Cochise. Just about the same time, I started visiting my pal’s house to watch the new TV Channel BBC 2. One of its signature programmes was the TV western series The High Chaparral. As synchronicity would have it, this show used as its backcloth the war with Cochise. It also broke the mould of TV Westerns by being filmed almost entirely on location in the Southern Arizona desert, a landscape I instantly fell in love with. Later, I saw the Old Tucson locations used again and again in movies from Rio Bravo to Winchester 73.
Growing up I became fascinated by the 19th Century American west and particularly Native American culture and history. I was moved by famous passages of Native American oratory, such as Cochise’s speech where he asks: ‘Why do the Apaches wait to die? Why do they carry their lives on their fingernails?’
Some famous Apaches:
|Naiche (or Nachay; also Natchez), son of Cochise.|
Victim of the Apache wars:
|Journalist Fred W. Loring, photographed in Arizona November 5, 1871,|
4 hours before he was killed by Apaches.
I wanted a story that combined tough action with an interracial love affair; that dealt with Native American culture and the struggle of people to survive in a land that was both mercilessly cruel and astonishingly beautiful. Out of such elements THE PEACEMAKER was born. I hope you enjoy it.
Buy it on Amazon — or read free with Kindle Unlimited — here: http://amzn.to/2hjxyHy
Choctaw blinked sweat and sunspots out of his eyes and began to lower the field glasses; then he glimpsed movement.
He used the glasses again, scanning nearer ground, the white sands. He saw nothing.
And then two black specks were there suddenly, framed against the dazzling white. They might have dropped from the sky.
They grew bigger. Two horsebackers coming this way, walking their mounts. As he watched they spurted into rapid movement, whipping their ponies into a hard run towards him.
The specks swelled to the size of horses and men. Men in faded smocks maybe once of bright colour, their long hair bound by rags at the temple. They had rifles in their hands.
Breath caught in Choctaw’s throat. Fear made him dizzy. His arms started to tremble. He knew who was coming at him so fast.
And you killed them or they killed you.
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