Books

Paul Huddy's Picks

Borderline
Nevada Barr returns to her literary roots in west Texas for a high adrenalin thriller in Big Bend National Park, one of the Southwest’s largest and most remote national parks. This time, her park ranger protagonist, Anna Pigeon, is on R&R, recovering from a deadly encounter in her last assignment. Looking forward to sun and fun on a river rafting trip through the canyon of the Rio Grande River, Anna and her companions encounter both rising flood waters and a deadly predator that quickly change everyone’s priority to survival. As ever, Barr makes good use of the opportunity to give her readers some striking glimpses of nature in the wild and the best and worst of human nature. This is Nevada Barr in top form with a very engaging page-turner. She knows the Southwest well and her depictions of national parks here are better in many ways than tour guides. In fact, we have enjoyed reading her novels most in connection with visiting the national parks of her stories.
Readers who enjoy Nevada Barr might also like to try Susan Cummins Miller, Jon Talton and David Sundstrand, three other recent Southwest Books of the Year award winners.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
A journalist and former war correspondent, Christopher McDougall seeks out the greatest runners and running events in the world, as well as top trainers, doctors and physical therapists, to get answers to two simple questions: how is it that some people are able to run so well - and why can’t I?. His search draws him to extreme competitions from the depths of Death Valley in midsummer to the lofty peaks of Leadville, Colorado, and culminates in the wilds of northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre among the Tarahumara. This fast-paced adventure story reads like a mystery novel, but delivers remarkable insights from the frontiers of sports and science. As with all good literature, however, it is really about people, passions and life. What emerges is a surprisingly heartwarming and joyous look at the nature of humanity and what wonders we share.
Rain Gods
(fiction) In trying to unravel a complex web of murder and intrigue, a small town border sheriff not only has to contend with elusive perpetrators and mysterious feds, who seem to be more focused on conflicts among themselves than against each other, but also his own past and a world of moral ambiguity. As both the body count rises, his mission expands from defending locals caught in the mayhem to sheer survival - but on what terms? Created by a master story teller at the top of his form, James Lee Burke’s haunting and evocative exploration of vagaries of the human condition takes us from its most unfortunate depths to some of those surprising triumphs of human spirit that inspire hope for us all. This is the kind of writing that leaves us in a state of recurring wonder long after the last page is turned, and with a desire for more.
Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West
Glen Canyon has long been mourned as The Place No One Knew, more beautiful than the Grand Canyon and just upstream from it on the Colorado River, yet so remote that few realized what would be lost when it was drowned by Glen Canyon Dam. After retiring, former Senator Barry Goldwater, the lead advocate for the dam in the Senate, said sadly that if he could un-do one thing he had done, Glen Canyon Dam would have been it. The plummeting water level of drought-starved Lake Powell recently receded from a good portion of upper Glen Canyon, drawing people from all over the world to explore that lost world. Lavishly illustrated with beautiful photographs, this volume gives witness to the wonders of Glen Canyon and celebrates what once was, as well as what could be again. Also an important lesson in water development run amok, this is a reminder that sustainability is not just about saving trees, it is about saving our selves and the things that really matter to us.

For readers who would like to explore this subject, I too highly recommend “The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado,” and “ Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World.”
Scarecrow, The
(fiction)
A veteran crime reporter’s investigation of a murder turns up one surprise after another. First, he becomes convinced that the accused gangbanger didn’t do it, then he comes across a previous murder that seems suspiciously similar. He doesn’t know it, but his Internet searches have alerted a deadly predator in cyberspace who quickly knows all about him and has him in his sights. A former journalist whose Harry Bosch police procedural novels regularly vault him to the top of best seller lists, the award-winning author has developed a new and engaging antihero protagonist to explore the heart of darkness in the West. This fast-paced thriller is Michael Connelly at his best. Readers who enjoy Michael Connelly might also like to try Robert Crais and T. Jefferson Parker.
Scarecrow, The
(fiction) A veteran crime reporter’s investigation of a murder turns up one surprise after another. First, he becomes convinced that the accused gangbanger didn’t do it, then he comes across a previous murder that seems suspiciously similar. He doesn’t know it, but his Internet searches have alerted a deadly predator in cyberspace who quickly knows all about him and has him in his sights. A former journalist whose Harry Bosch police procedural novels regularly vault him to the top of best seller lists, the award-winning author has developed a new and engaging antihero protagonist to explore the heart of darkness in the West. This fast-paced thriller is Michael Connelly at his best.
Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History
On April 30, 1871, in the early morning twilight, a group of 146 men from Tucson surrounded an Indian village and attacked, killing 144 Indians without suffering a single loss of life among themselves. Was this a victory of settlers over bloodthirsty Indians? No, the village was on a designated reservation for peaceful Indians near an Army camp. The attackers were vigilantes acting secretly and their victims were almost all sleeping women and children. The attack sparked national outrage. President Grant declared it “purely murder” and ordered a federal investigation. In this remarkable new look at the Camp Grant Massacre, historian Karl Jacoby examines what happened from the point of view of each of the participating groups - the Anglo-Americans, the Hispanics, the Tohono O’odham and the Apaches - and thereby transcends the event itself and illuminates the broader history of the Southwest in a revealing and moving way.

Readers who wish to explore this subject further might also be interested in two other exceptional recent books that explore other aspects of this part of our history:
* Big Sycamore Stands Alone: The Western Apaches, Aravaipa, and the Struggle for Place, by Ian W. Record;
* War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War, by Brian DeLay
West of the Imagination, The
One of America’s foremost modern historians pioneered in exploring the imagery of Western American mythology and the people who created it, in cultural and historical context. Breaking academic bounds, his studies previously resulted in an innovative six-part documentary series that was a big hit on PBS television and a companion book of the same title. This is a major update and expansion of that work in a fascinating and beautifully illustrated volume that is highly readable and very enjoyable. It remains one of the greatest surveys of western American culture.

About Paul Huddy

Sharon Gilbert is a librarian with the Pima County Public Library. Besides books and reading, she has a passion for art, architecture, interior design, gardening, cooking, crafts, travel and martial arts. Paul Huddy is a scientist with the Solar Institute whose passions include exploring and understanding the world around us and the nature of things. They grew up in Tucson and have known each other since high school. They say that they opened their first books at a young age and have never forgotten the thrill.

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