Southwest Books of the Year
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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.
- Early Tucson
- By , Arizona Historical Society , Anne L. Woosley. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. Part of the Images of America Series. $21.99.
- This addition to the Images of America series is great fun and presents a couple of hundred black-and-white photographs of Tucson, Arizona, from the 1870s until 1940. We can laugh at burros on a downtown street, gaze at a photo of what is now metropolitan midtown when it was undeveloped desert, and marvel at the many changes of a town that bills itself as the Old Pueblo.
A far better book was Mike Speelman’s Historic Photos of Tucson (2007, $39.95), which has fewer selections that are much larger, clearer, and better reproduced.
- We read about history but seldom get a chance to see what it looked like. For those curious about Tucson’s past, this new offering from the Arizona Historical Society fills that void with a wide range of historical photos, maps and illustrations, all the way back to territorial days. With historical summaries of each period and detailed captions, it provides enticing glimpses into Tucson’s past. Part of a continuing series based on photos and other artifacts from the Arizona Historical Society’s extensive collection, this whets our appetites for more. [ ]
- Ecology and Conservation of the San Pedro River
- By Juliet C . Stromberg, Barbara Tellman. University of Arizona Press. 529 pp. Index. $85.00.
- You may have heard about the glories and challenges of southern Arizona’s San Pedro River. It is a wonderful but complex stretch of water. This book details those complexities in 23 chapters written by notable experts on topics ranging from law to insects to groundwater to animals and plants. Even fish are covered. Though intended for serious study, many amateur naturalists will enjoy the information, too. This book will be a baseline for future studies and efforts to conserve the river, its rich species, and its marvelous beauty. [ ]
- Rising in Mexico and flowing north across southeastern Arizona to its confluence with the Gila River near Winkleman, the San Pedro River is one of the few remaining perennial rivers of the desert Southwest. As such, it is a regional ecological treasure that is at the center of many on-going disputes over land and water issues. This thick volume is a compendium of the latest information and research in science, natural resources, land management, history, laws, regulations and other factors related to effective decision-making and resource management of the basin. The result of an extensive study performed by a 57-member interdisciplinary team of experts, this can be very useful to anyone who is interested in the region. It is one of this year’s most significant contributions of its kind to sustainability in the Southwest. [ ]
- Edge of the Sea of Cortez, The: Tidewalkers' Guide to the Upper Gulf of California
- By Betty Hupp, Marilyn Malone. University of Arizona Press. 94 pp. Index. $27.95.
- When I studied oceanography and contributed in very minor ways to research of the Northern Gulf of California years ago, there were no guidebooks to tell us about much of what we were finding along the shores, tide pools and estuaries of that wondrous region. I was pleased to find that the authors of this new book noticed the same deficiency and did something about it. Prepared in cooperation with experts at the University of Arizona, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO) and others, this delightful guide is a nice introduction to the remarkable flora and fauna of these desert shores. Beautifully illustrated with exceptional photos, diagrams and maps, this is just the thing for visitors who would like to find out about the things they are most likely to find there. Nicely done. Thank you Betty and Marilyn. [ ]
- El Rancho de las Golondrinas: Living History in New Mexico's La Ciénega Valley
- By Carmella Padilla, Jack Parsons. Museum of New Mexico Press. 207 pp. Index. $39.95.
- Twenty miles and 300 years south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is Rancho de las Golondrinas – Ranch of the Swallows -- a 200-acre living history, open-air museum that spans centuries and cultures. This vision of Leonora Curtin and Y. A. Paloheimo stands at the intersection of yesterday and tomorrow as weaving, farming, blacksmithing, cooking, and carpentry are reenacted by authentically dressed docents. The buildings were salvaged from old barns and well houses or built new as replicas of old homes in the Santa Fe area. With a mellow and accurate voice, Carmela Padilla narrates this rich history, enormous passion, and compelling preservation of architecture, lifeways, and community cooperation. Jack Parsons’ photos, taken over a period of 35 years, perfectly complement the text and enliven our sense of being there. It is rewarding to know that such places – and people -- exist. If you have become jaded by overly commercial Southwest crafts and arts, a visit to Golondrinas or a reading of this book may return you to the real roots and liberating meanings of function and form. The ranch is a national treasure. [ ]
- I can not improve upon Bill Broyles' review of this fine book. This is history at is best [ ]
- Electrifying the Rural American West: Stories of Power, People, and Place
- By Leah S. Glaser. University of Nebraska Press. 318 pp. Index. $55.00.
- Using southeastern Arizona, the White Mountains, and the Navajo and Hopi reservations as case studies, Glaser examines the politics and consequences of rural electrification in the twentieth-century West. In contrast to policymakers'promotion of electricity as a democratizing and homogenizing agent, Glaser argues that electrification was a bottom-up process in which communities actively lobbied for technology to promote local interests. Her conclusions have obvious implications in the ongoing debate between marketplace economists and proponents of federal intervention. [ ]
- Enjoying Big Bend National Park: a Friendly Guide to Adventures for Everyone
- By Gary Clark, Kathy Adams Clark. Texas A&M University Press. 128 pp. Index. $17.95.
- "Friendly" perfectly describes this compact visitor's guide to the sprawling West Texas wilderness preserve. After a succinct overview of history and habitat, Clark suggests two-hour, half-day, and entire-day adventures by foot and automobile. Other sections include family outings and tours for the physically fit, the physically challenged, nature lovers, four-wheelers, and people who just like to take it easy. Beautiful color photographs by Kathy Adams Clark, along with directions, distances, and special instructions, enhance the book's usefulness. Individual section maps would have been helpful. [ ]
- Nicely illustrated with beautiful photographs, this somewhat personal and subjective guide to the big region on a bend of the Rio Grande River in southwest Texas is based on many years of visitations by the author with his family. First time visitors could find it very useful, but the personal point of view also limits it: it does not aspire to being comprehensive. For example, there is no mention of river trips, which are a big draw, as shown in Nevada Barr’s latest novel, Borderline, a SWBOY pick this year. [ ]
- Essays, The
- By Rudolfo A. Anaya. University of Oklahoma Press. 320 pp. $24.95.
- A collection of Anaya's nonfiction work, 52 essays that draw on both his heritage as a Mexican American and his gift for storytelling for incisive commentary on modern America.
- By Gerald Kolpan. Ballantine Books. 322 pp. $25.00.
- Koplan capitalizes on the almost complete dearth of historical knowledge about Etta Place, the lover/accomplice of Wild Bunch outlaw Harry Longbaugh (the Sundance Kid), to create a captivating fictional personality who leaves behind her socialite upbringing to work as a Harvey Girl, takes up with the Wild Bunch, returns east to rub shoulders with Eleanor Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody, dodges Pinkertons and the homicidal Kid Curry, flees to Argentina with Longbaugh and Butch Cassidy, and returns to live out her days as a respected New York City philanthropist. Sadly, the Southwest figures only tangentially in this rollicking outlaw tale. [ ]