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James R. Olson's newest novel, Injun, is now available from your favorite bookstores and this site! Click here for details

Publication of Injun fulfills a 47 year old goal!

Way back in 1963 while visiting a friend in Tucson I discovered the archives in the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. Digging through their extensive files of manuscripts, I came across the copy of a military dispatch from General Crook, commander of the department of Arizona during the height of the Apache wars. The report to the War Department detailed a raid by a small band of hostile Apaches coming into Arizona from their sanctuary in the Mexican mountains. That dispatch inspired me to do years of research, which led to the writing of my first published novel, Ulzana. Prior to reading that dispatch and becoming enmeshed in research, I had known very little about the Apaches. I suspect my knowledge and prejudices had been limited to whatever I had learned from growing up on a diet of Hollywood westerns.

Research opened my eyes to an entirely new understanding of the Apaches. For example, I learned the Apaches were a loose confederation of several tribal groups that were relatively autonomous and were known to history from the areas where they lived and the territory they controlled, such as the Chiricahua, Mimbreños, Mescaleros, Tonto, Gila, Warm Springs, etc. The most notorious of these bands were known as the Chiricahua or the Cochise Apaches. It was this tribal group that drew the focus of my research, and I quickly learned that one book would never adequately detail the history of these people. Here was a group of Indians that probably never numbered more than 500 or 600 warriors, yet had been resisting the European and American invasion for nearly two hundred years. Just as a comparison, there were probably more than 5,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors at the battle of the Little Big Horn. Dozens of books would probably not cover the Apache's entire story. However, I was convinced that with three novels it would be possible to at least provide a brief panorama of the three major historical eras - the Spanish missionary period, the American Indians wars, and the final disposition of the Chiricahua Apaches. Although it took 47 years to write and publish those three novels I never doubted that one day they would be completed. After all, dreams have no expiration date.

There were three reasons I decided to write the first novel about the American Indian wars, between approximately 1840 and 1885. First, there was a great deal of research material available from this time period. Secondly I thought my readers would be more interested in an historical time they would be familiar with from other books and a plethora of Hollywood films. And finally the raid I had read about in General Crook's dispatch would provide a hook upon which I could hang my story. Consequently, Ulzana, published in 1973, was written from the Apache's point of view about the warrior who led that amazing raid.

My next project was to use my voluminous research to write a novel about the Spanish missionary period in Arizona. In the 1700s the Spaniards had established strings of missions from Mexico City throughout southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Probably more through force of arms than missionary zeal, the Spanish had Christianized the majority of the natives in this vast territory. The notable exception to this Christianization was the Apaches. I felt compelled to write a story about why this one tribal confederation had rejected the Spanish attempts to convert them. Because I had done the majority of my research in Arizona, and my first novel centered upon the Chiricahua, I selected the mission of San Jose de Tumacácori (the ruins of Tumacácori can be visited south of Tucson) as the location from which Dom Bernardo, the main character in the novel, would begin his adventure among the wild Apaches. Brother, the second novel in my trilogy of the Apaches, was published in 2002.

At the conclusion of the Apache wars in 1886, although the majority of the Chiricahua had been living peacefully on a reservation., the entire tribe - four hundred and ninety-eight men, women, and children - had been sent to Florida as prisoners-of-war and held in captivity for twenty-six years under the jurisdiction of the War Department, first in Florida, then in Alabama, and finally at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Most people are not aware of this unique treatment of the Chiricahua Apaches. During the Indian wars individual "bad" Indians from many different tribes had been arrested and sentenced to prison terms. However, the Chiricahua were the only entire tribe that had been treated as prisoners-of-war. While the adult Chiricahua men and women were incarcerated in Florida, many of the children were involuntarily separated from their families and transported to the Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania in an effort to civilize them.. I decided to tell the unique story of the final disposition of the Chiricahua Apaches from the viewpoint of Matthew Binday, one of the children who had been sent to the Carlisle school. Injun, published in 2010, the final of my three novels about the Apaches, tells that story. (As a brief aside, the cover of Injun is an oil painting I did several years ago of Sam Binday, Matthew's father.)

After 47 years, I'm proud to have finally fulfilled by goal of creating in broad brush strokes the history of the Chiricahua Apaches during their nearly two hundred year struggle against the European and American invaders. I hope many readers will profit from my research and gain a new respect for these proud people.

You may read or listen to sample chapters of my three Apache novels and all my other novels on their individual pages, or in the Catalogue of my books.



Are You Taking Advantage Of Everything This Site Has To Offer?


You may have noticed that I have moved my catalogue of titles off of the home page. I am getting so many novels published that the home page was getting too cluttered looking. The brief synopsis of each of my titles, a thumbnail of the book itself, and links to detailed descriptions can be found on the catalogue page. Links at both at the top and bottom of the page.

In addition to information on every one of my published books, you can download (or read online), or listen to some of my short stories. The art of short fiction is dying because there is a very limited market. At one time there were hundreds of magazines, both pulp and slick that carried fiction. Today very few publications have short fiction, except perhaps for some speciality magazines. Short fiction is great because it tells an entire story in a few pages. Take advantage of the opportunity to read some very good fiction - absolutely free.

Of course the Media Room is just what the name implies, an area for media people to gather information. Almost any visitor might find things of interest, such as press releases and a very detailed (probably more information than you want to know) biography.

And finally, there is a page where I list some novels which were written by authors I know. I think you might enjoy their writing. With all the new titles published each year, sometimes we lose track of some very good writers who have published a few years ago. You owe it to yourself to at least check out the information on my other authors page.

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