Fellow priests called his ministry ”just short of a miracle.” A superior castigated him as ”an adventurer,” Apaches and migrant Mexicans claimed him ”one of us.” To his fellow soldiers he was ”a man’s man.” Of himself he chuckled, ”I’ve been in mischief all my life.” He was Father Albert Braun, OFM, in turn mule-headed, explosive, or penitent. Vigorously outspoken, he once charged a group of august bishops to ”get off your butts and out among the people.”
Father Braun’s sense of duty was profound, his humor crusty. He arrived in New Mexico as missionary to the Mescalero Apaches just after Pancho Villa’s raid, was a highly decorated chaplain in both World Wars, and after World War II he participated in the top-secret birth of the first hydrogen bomb on a south Pacific atoll. Drawing on archival and military records, letters, memoirs, and interviews, Dorothy Cave chronicles the amazing life of this last of the frontier priests from his birth in the lusty, brawling California of 1889, to his death and burial in the church he built his beloved Mescaleros in 1983. This book is at once a biography and a kaleidoscopic history of the tumultuous times in which he lived. From it there emerges the inspiring saga of a man who changed thousands of lives with faith, humor, dedication, and a generous dash of pure hard-headed cussedness.