Books

Sharon Gilbert and Paul Huddy's Picks

Arab/American: Landscape, Culture, and Cuisine in Two Great Deserts
Gary Nabhan is a Southwest treasure. Recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award and the Society for Conservation Biology’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Nabhan has been tramping around deserts for years, opening windows for us on the appreciation and use of desert plants. With this remarkable volume, his pursuit of curious biological and cultural threads leads him, to his surprise, back to ancestral homelands and opens yet more, fascinating windows on our Southwestern heritage and how people and their relationship to plants contributed to it. This personal story of his wonderful discoveries is both timely and very enjoyable. Those interested in the real Southwest won’t want to miss it.
Bruce Aiken's Grand Canyon: An Intimate Affair
Bruce Aiken is an artist with a strong sense of place. His place is the Grand Canyon, within which he and his family lived for over thirty years, while he tended the Park’s precious water supply at Roaring Springs. From this most fortunate niche, he was able to paint the wonders of the world’s most famous Canyon in all kinds of light, times, and seasons. Happily, the Grand Canyon Association welcomed the project of documenting this man’s body of work and sharing with us his very blessed life.The result is a beautiful volume which includes 70 full page, color reproductions of his paintings and numerous smaller paintings and photographs. Accompanying maps and appendices invite further study.
Fragile Patterns: the Archaeology of the Western Papagueria
The Western Papagueria refers to the western portion of the traditional homeland of the Tohono O’odham, formerly “Papago,” Native American tribe, in southwest Arizona and northwest Sonora. Occupying the hottest and driest portion of the Sonoran Desert, it is a challenging environment. Nevertheless, the Tohono O’odham, the “Desert People,” not only survived but somehow thrived and developed a rich and varies culture that goes back a long time. Unlike many Native American tribes, their language and culture are still intact. At the time of American expansion, they did not declare war on the United States and did not surrender, yet today have one of the largest reservations in the country. Very readable, interesting and will illustrated, this book is a major contribution to our knowledge of their remarkable people, their culture, environment and history.
Guide to Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest, A


Long ago, a number of ancient civilizations around the world understood the regularity of astronomical movements in the sky, and regularly used observations to measure seasonal variations as the basis for annual calendars. Peoples who had to travel over distances of many hundreds of miles on foot could find this very useful in establishing times to get together for regular trade gatherings. Professor J. McKim Malville, a respected astronomer and elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his work in solar astrophysics, has done pioneering work around the word investigating these early cultures, one of which was here in the Southwest. In this book he describes findings, theories, hypotheses and conjectures about the meaning and function of stone alignments and buildings of the prehistoric Southwest.


For advanced reading, we also recommend Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, edited by Anthony Aveni (2008), a Notable Southwest Book of the Year, which includes papers on many of these sites.
If I Die in Juarez
Nearly 15 years after local rights workers began documenting the Juarez deaths, over 500 young women have been brutally murdered, the killings continue and few of the crimes have been solved. Organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that crimes against women are on the rise in much of the world, but Mexico is one of the worst cases anywhere. After years of investigation, Southwest author Stella Pope Duarte concluded that she could best express the full reality of the story in a fictional format. Her poignant eulogy to the brutalized women and their devastated families is so sad on so many levels that it is difficult to read. It vividly reflects, in the very human struggles of the families, the horrific effects of poverty, lack of education and opportunity. It is a war zone in Juarez and Duarte has stunningly realized in her novel a place and a people trying to survive amidst the greed, avarice and predation of a failed state and two failed governments.
Otero Mesa: Preserving America's Wildest Grassland
Otero Mesa is 1.2 million acres of one of the largest remaining natural Chihuahuan Desert grasslands left in the U.S. It is also one of a diminishing number of large public lands in the Southwest that are not open to oil and gas exploration. As we go to press, the outgoing administration plans to change that. The move is opposed by the government and people of New Mexico. This book’s story is important because it is representative of the on-going battle over the long term management of public lands and choices between development and extraction or preservation and nature, old paradigm consumption or new paradigm sustainability, corporate influence vs. public interest. Thanks to award-winning nature writer Greg McNamee, and the remarkable photography of scientist Stephen Strom and naturalist Stephen Capra, it is a story well told. Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and former U.S. Secretary of Energy, wrote the forward.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. Volume 2, Water-harvesting Earthworks
Tucson and the Southwest have a problem: we live in a desert, we have used water like there was no end to it, and now we realize there is. What can we do? Thanks to the pioneering work of Brad Lancaster and others, there are good solutions to that with little or no cost. In this, his second volume of three, Brad shows in a easy to understand manner, supported with lots of illustrations, how to re-form yards, parks and other landscapes to capture rainfall and care for landscaping in natural ways. Because the average urban home in the Southwest uses more potable water on the yard than in the house, these measures can easily cut water bills in half for most people. For putting practical sustainability to good use, this is a top pick for those who live in the Southwest, and elsewhere
Southwestern Indian Jewelry: Crafting New Traditions
In this sequel to her earlier authoritative work, Dexter Cirillo introduces a new generation of Southwest Native American jewelry makers and their stunning work. Over 85 top Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and other artists are featured with gorgeous photographs of their stunningly beautiful pieces. Through innovative designs, dazzling techniques and amazing use of materials, the younger generation is taking the art in new and daring directions. In just under 250 pages, Dexter Cirillo and photographer Addison Doty delight the eye, inform the mind and expand the spirit with beautiful photographs of the artists’ work and world, a succinct but excellent history placing the current art into historical context, and in depth discussions of the numerous jewelers, with equal attention to their dazzling art.
Vanishing Borderlands: The Fragile Landscape of the U.S.-Mexico Border
After many years of exceptional effort by individuals, local and national organizations, and governments to protect and preserve them, the unique and valuable desert wilderness along the U.S.-Mexico border is now being devastated as if it were a war zone. In fact, it is. The onslaught of over half a million illegal immigrants per year, plus heavily armed and equipped smugglers, traffickers, bandits, kidnappers and other predators, plus the frenetic response of the Border Patrol and other agencies, is turning these fragile public lands into a wasteland. Among these are both American and Mexican national parks and monuments, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, as well as U.N. Biosphere Reserves, all well recognized, beloved and irreplaceable national and world treasures. Award winning photographer John Annerino, who knows this territory well, chronicles this disturbing story in the wake of continued failures of two governments and societies to address their crises of (non-)sustainability and work together for the common good.
We also highly recommend two other top picks, Exodus / Exido, by Charles Bowden, et al., and If I Die in Juarez, by Stella Pope Duarte, which address the human and social costs of this preventable man-made disaster.
Willard Clark: Printer & Printmaker
For those who delight in a beautifully-designed book, David Farmer’s tribute to Willard Clark is a real treat. From jacket to text to artfully-arranged reproductions of Clark’s printmaking, one can savor his skill and creativity in even the most mundane print jobs. His work is whimsical, expressive and carefully-crafted. Clark helped shape the mystique of Santa Fe. This book has a delightfully vicarious quality to it. I felt as if I were peeking through a window, watching a special part of Old Santa Fe, circa 1935, unfold before me. It is a gem.

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