Karl May (1843-1912) is probably still the most read German author in Germany and some other countries. He was born in a large, poor family. After some rather turbulent years, he started to write adventure stories for the youth, although as his popularity increased, more and more adults read his books.The style of his books is the style of the village story tellers. There are improbable adventures, there is no constraint on the soaring fantasy, yet while reading them one can visualise the situation.
His Westerns are probably the most read: Winnetou, The Treasure of Silver Lake, The Son of Bear Hunter, The Spirit of Llano Estacado, and The Oil Prince. Much of the ethnographic and some of the geographic details are erroneous in these books, partly because May had never been to the West, partly because these errors helped him develop the story.
May's stories are read for the adventure, and for some of the moral values which are prominent in his books. This appeal in particular to the youth: there are no moral ambiguities there: the good and evil struggle, and the good always wins, while the reader cannot be sympathetic to those who represent the evil.
May's books were already edited in his life time, but especially after 1913. Over the decades some of May's errors have been corrected by his publishers, and the remarks or contexts that could raise uncomfortable associations have either been removed or rephrased.
Winnetou, the chief of the Apache, is a legend in many countries. This book contains Karl May's whole Winnetou Trilogy.
Charlie, the young German immigrant, arrives to the Wild West, and soon becomes Old Shatterhand, the hero, who can knock out any enemy with a single blow, a warrior, who kills only when he has no other choice. He becomes Winnetou's blood brother, and the death-daring adventures start, even though he had already hunted bison, caught mustangs, killed a grizzly, and found himself in the war between the Apache and Kiowa. He teams up with Old Death against the Ku-Klux-Klan, and bandits who are preparing an attack on a silver mine. He defends trains against Indian attacks enticed by the white villains, helps out Old Firehand against a Ponca raid, defeats the bandits of the Llano Estacado with Sans-ear, the hunter, and attempts to recover the treasure of the Apache.
In his quest for adventure, Old Shatterhand never forgets his desire to help the Native Americans.
This unabridged English translation retains the exciting adventures, and the strong moral conviction of May's original book, while modernising the style, and editing parts that were erroneous or may evoke bad associations. With this editing the core of May's world, the action, the dreaming of heroic deeds, and the struggle for a kind of justice have become more emphasised, and more accessible to the modern reader.