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Freelance journalist Fergus ( One Thousand White Women0 , 1998) uses historical events as a springboard for this riveting epic shot through the lens of Depression photographer Ned Giles. After the death of his parents, 17-year-old Giles leaves behind his job at a Chicago country club to join the Great Apache Expedition, a journey organized by citizens of the U.S and Mexico to recover the kidnapped son of a Mexican rancher. Exploring Mexico's Sierra Madres is an opportunity too rich to resist for Giles, who lucks into a job as one of the expedition's photographers. But when he captures the chilling image of a wild Apache girl in a Mexican jail, the young man cannot, in good conscience, turn his back and walk away: " La nina bronca0 , this slight starving creature curled in a fetal position on the stone floor . . . the shadows of the iron bars falling like a convict's striped uniform across her naked body." Giles and fellow travelers (including a flamboyant preppie, a fierce female anthropologist, and a stoic Apache scout) risk life and limb to set the feral girl free. Fans of both Larry McMurtry and Louis L'Amour will relish this deftly rendered tale of survival, self-discovery, and the precarious boundaries between man and beast. --Allison Block Copyright 2005 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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Depicting the dusty Depression-era West this grandly, cinematically imagined sweat- and bloodstained saga, inspired by events that took place in Arizona and south of the border in the Sierra Madre badlands, dramatizes latter-day conflicts between whites and Native Americans. During the fall of 1999, an obscure, financially struggling photographer, Ned Giles-now in his early 80s-sells, for $30,000, La Nina Bronca, his only copy of a photo of a young Apache girl lying on the rude floor of a Mexican jail cell; the buyer's curiosity about the picture's provenance sparks Ned's memories. The rest of the book, set in 1932, reveals a legacy of heroism and lost love through Ned's scrupulously detailed diaries, which vividly recount a nightmare of harrowing misadventures beginning the day he signs on to be a part of the Great Apache Expedition, one of dozens of men hoping to free the son of a wealthy Mexican rancher kidnapped by the Apaches. (The wild Apache girl will be used as ransom.) The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks, intermingling short passages from the third-person POV of the fierce Apache girl and first-person excerpts from the diaries of the 17-year-old Chicagoan photographer on his first big assignment. Fergus (One Thousand White Women) makes unforgettable characters move against vivid landscapes in this laudable encore. Agent, Al Zuckerman at Writers House. 5-city author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved