Southwest Books of the Year
Browsing Complete List - L :
Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.
- La Clinica: a Doctor's Journey Across Borders
- By David P. Sklar. University of New Mexico Press. 234 pp. $26.95.
- Dr. David Sklar steps out of his modern hospital into the medical clinic of a rural village in Mexico and finds surprising insights and relationships.
- Land and Light in the American West
- By John Ward. Trinity University Press. 136 pp. . $29.95.
- A 30+ year retrospective of Ward's workman-like black and white images in large, horizontal format. [ ]
- John Ward gives us a sumptuous folio of black and white photographs depicting scenery and historic buildings across the West. My favorites are cottonwoods at Capitol Reef, a decrepit building at Terlingua, and eroded walls at Dos Cabezas. The images are reproduced in Fultone, giving them enormous eye appeal. The introduction by William R. Thompson provides a biography of the photographer.
- Last Supper of Chicano Heroes, The: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga
- By Daniel Chacón, Mimi Reisel Gladstein. University of Arizona Press. 232 pp. $16.95.
- This first and only collection of Burciaga’s work features thirty-eight illustrations and incorporates previously unpublished essays and drawings, including selections from his manuscript “The Temple Gang,” a memoir he was writing at the time of his death.
- Law on the Last Frontier: Texas Ranger Arthur Hill
- By S. E. Spinks. Texas Tech University Press. 264 pp. Index. . $28.50.
- Texan Arthur Hill was a Garrison Ranger serving under Colonel Homer Garrison, who shaped his troops into an elite crime-fighting unit. Hill's territory covered the rugged Big Bend Country of west Texas Working from personal records and interviews, the author vividly re-creates the excitement and danger as Hill, patrolling both sides of the Rio Grande by foot, horseback, and auto, rounded up smugglers, cattle thieves murderers and bad men. Here is an important addition to the 20th century history of a Texas Ranger and of the Big Bend as well. A fine read, which was hard to put down. [ ]
- Although he did spend some time in Dallas, it was the Big Bend and the southern Rio Grande border that attracted lawman Hill and Spinks captures the excitement of Hill’s life there. Using personal interviews and a wide variety of printed and archival sources his text takes the reader to the scenes of the crimes, so to speak, with a narrative that is compulsive reading.
- Legacies of Camelot: Stewart and Lee Udall, American Culture, and the Arts
- By L. Boyd Finch. University of Oklahoma Press. 194 pp. . $24.95.
- A touching, personal, and thoroughly enjoyable reading pleasure, this biography-cum-history covers, for the most part, events that occurred in Washington D.C. when Stewart Udall was Secretary of the Interior in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, but the long-term tenure of the Udalls in New Mexico makes it a southwestern book and Finch’s careful research and writing makes it excellent reading. Anyone who was an adult at the time of Kennedy’s inauguration will probably remember Robert Frost’s part, and Finch gives us an insider’s perspective on that event as well as other cultural “happenings” of the time. The significant role of Stewart and his wife Lee in the flowering of government support of the arts in what came to be known as the American Camelot makes the title word legacies especially appealing. [ ]
- Finch, an aide to Interior Secretary Stewart Udall during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has written an elegant insider's portrait of a small-town Arizona couple and their transformative impact on art and culture in national life. Drawing on exhaustive research in the Udall papers at the University of Arizona and his own vivid recollections, Finch paints memorable portraits of John and Jackie Kennedy, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and other figures drawn into the Udalls' intimate Washington circle. He also traces the trajectory of Stewart Udall's evolving views on history and on the environment, and highlights Lee Udall's underappreciated role in preserving and promoting Native American folk art. This important and compulsively readable book explains how the Udalls drew on their southwestern backgrounds to shape the core of what we now nostalgically refer to as "Camelot." Scholars and general audiences alike will find it a pleasurable and rewarding read. [ ]
- Life of a Soldier on the Western Frontier
- By Jeremy Agnew. . Index. . $ .
- What was it like to be a soldier serving in the frontier West? Food, quarters, uniform, weapons, routine, pay, duties and drills, on patrol, and off duty: it’s all here in an authoritative, very smoothly written account that offers a sense of the soldier’s lot. For the most part soldiering was hard, dreary work. Although this book covers the entire West, much of it applies to the Southwest. A fascinating and enlightening book. I learned something on every page. [ ]
- Lillie Davenport: Pioneer Mother
- By Mary Lou Midkiff . Oleo Publishing. 344 pp. Index. $29.95.
- Chronicles the life of female pioneer Lillie Davenport as she marries a cowboy, moves to west Texas, and raises 12 children.
- Line from Here to There, The: a Storyteller's Scottish West Texas
- By Rosanna T. Herndon. Texas Tech University Press. 133 pp. . $24.95.
- Eighteen stories covering several generations of Scottish West Texans, some of which are the author’s own ancestors, family and friends.
- Listening to Cougar
- By Marc Bekoff, Cara Blessley Lowe. University Press of Colorado. 200 pp. . $24.95.
- Four of these short essays, mostly reprinted from other sources, are set in Arizona and New Mexico. The remainder are far outside the Southwest. For anyone with an interest in puma, cougar, catamount, and any other name by which this big cat goes this will be an interesting read with contributions from such well-knowns as J. Frank Dobie, Barry Lopez and Rick Bass. [ ]
- If cougars could talk, these 19 essays are what they might say. Essays by Rick Bass, J. Frank Dobie, and Barry Lopez are joined by experts such as Linda Sweanor, Janay Brun, and Marc Bekoff, as well as relative newcomers Steve Edwards and Steve Pavlik. The essays are inspiring and the message cautionary. How can our society so love domestic cats and dogs but tolerate the ruthless slaughter of its wild cats and canines? Also helpful are a “map” of stakeholder values, a chronicle of the few incidents where cougars killed humans, and safety tips in case you meet a cougar. [ ]
- Literary Nevada: Writings From the Silver State
- By Cheryll Glotfelty. University of Nevada Press. 831 pp. Index. $29.95.
- Forgive me. The title of this book drew a guffaw of laughter and a rude comment about the apparent oxymoron of “literary Nevada.” Those two words seem to crash. But after an hour browsing among the 200 plus selections, I found the anthology interesting, entertaining, and educational. Of particular interest for us in the Southwest are chapters on Las Vegas, contemporary poetry, contemporary fiction, and lessons of the land. The editor has done us a big favor by including first-rate biographies of the authors as well as photos of many. Although many of the authors are not Nevadans per se, they do render the state with affection or at least begrudging respect. Most of the literary terrain is beyond the Southwest, but it covers enough to make it worth your look. Considering the book’s size and range, it is a reading bargain. And the editor did me a favor, because her enterprise has convinced me that there may be a literary Nevada.
- Little Big Bend: Common, Uncommon, and Rare Plants of Big Bend National Park
- By Roy Morey. Texas Tech University Press. 329 pp. Index. . $34.95.
- This especially beautiful plant book features 252 of Big Bend’s plants. It may be the best of a recent bouquet of superb books about Texas plants. Roy Morey’s definitive photographs and clear text bring life to the landscape and its wondrous plants. Readers will especially enjoy the sections on photography and where to see certain plants within the park. My only quibble is that the title does not begin to do the book justice. [ ]
- Lost Architecture of the Rio Grande Borderlands
- By Eugene George. Texas A&M University Press. 105 pp. Index. $35.00.
- Scheduled to be “full” by 1955, the Falcon Reservoir on the Rio Grande filled up two years earlier because of heavy rainy seasons, the impounded water covered homes, ranch houses, churches, cemeteries, etc. Dry years in recent decades have exposed many of these “lost” places and George’s text and photos bring together both archival information and more recent data to reveal what was indeed lost.
- Luck Be a Lady, Don't Die
- By Robert J. Randisi. Thomas Dunne Books. 262 pp. . $23.95.
- Standard mystery fare set in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack playing standard roles. [ ]
- Lucky Billy: A Novel About Billy the Kid
- By John Vernon. Houghton Mifflin Co.. 294 pp. $24.00.
- Vernon’s The Last Canyon, which retold Powell’s historic 1869 voyage through Grand Canyon in fictional form was on our “Best Books” list a few years back. Now he gives us a fictional rendering of the saga of Billy the Kid, and a wonderful accounting it is. Skipping back and forth in time, and among characters, Vernon provides dialog that gives us insight into events (such as Billy’s escape from jail) while never giving in to the temptation to simply tell the story. And he uses some historic documents, for example Pat Garrett’s autobiography, to give counterpoint to the events. Near the end we meet both Billy’s reputed father (a man of the theatre, of course, whose name is spelled Bonne with an accent over the “e”) and a small red-headed boy who might be Billy’s persona, still alive.