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50 Common Edible & Useful Plants of the Southwest
By David Yetman. Western National Parks Association. Index. $34.13.
It is interesting to consider that before the arrival of Europeans, as well as after, native Americans in the Sonoran Desert were able to live quite well on indigenous plants and animals. The latest product of David Yetman’s explorations of the Southwest’s ethnobotanical heritage is this nifty basic introduction to fifty plants that were useful to them. Nicely illustrated with good photos, his discussions are interesting and sometimes surprising. In one case, his advise is to avoid even touching the plant in question. Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also be interested in these books:
* The Great Cacti: Ethnobotany and Biogeography, by David Yetman;
* Enduring Seeds, by Gary Paul Nabhan;
* People of the Desert and Sea, by Richard S. Felger. []

Adventures of Salt and Soap at the Grand Canyon, The
By Tanja Bauerle, Lori April Rome. Grand Canyon Association. $9.95.

Two lost puppies make their way to the bottom of Grand Canyon, raft down the Colorado River, and find a home with a park ranger.
Adversity is My Angel: The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro
By Jack L. August, Raúl H. Castro. Texas Christian University Press. 192 pp. $21.95.
With assistance from historian Jack August, Jr., Arizona's first (and only) hispanic governor chronicles his life and career from his immigrant roots in southern Arizona through college and law school, his political apprenticeship as Pima County attorney and superior court judge, ambassadorships in Latin America, and his governorship marred by the Don Bolles assassination. Castro vividly recounts the discrimination he had to overcome at every step, but holds firm to his conviction that the United States is a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and never give up. This slender volume is both an inspiring tribute to one man's indominatable spirit and a glimpse into three decades of state and local politics. []

Albuquerque Ghosts: Traditions, Legend, Lore
By Inara Cedrins. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 158 pp. $14.99.
Curious title for a curious book. About half of the 56 very short sections have nothing to do with Albuquerque, ranging as far away as Hopi, in Arizona, with an extreme stretch to a chapter on Tibetan Migration (shades of Frank Waters!). There is a chapter on ghost towns, none of which ARE Albuquerque and most of which are many miles away. There is even a mini-essay titled “For Women: The Alchemy of Transformation”. In other words, this book is a kind of catch-all of other-wordly stuff that interested the author.

All Aboard: the Life and Work of Marjorie Reed
By Gary Fillmore, Marjorie Reed. Schiffer Publishing. 263 pp. $79.99.
Top Pick
Two previous books about Reed concentrated on her paintings relating to the Butterfield Overland Stage and provided very little information about the artist. This volume gives us everything: detailed biographical information as well as commentary on her art interspersed among the reproductions of more than four hundred of her colorful paintings and drawings. This is a magnificent tribute to a southwestern artist who is not nearly as well-known as she should be. []

A fond remembrance of western artist, Margerie Reed, of Tombstone, nicely illustrated with her work.
All About Saguaros: Facts, Lore, Photos
By Leo Banks, Arizona Highways Contributors . Arizona Highways. 96 pp. Index. $19.95.
Arizona’s iconic columnar cactus is a continuing wonder and marvel of nature for everyone - and rightly so. In so many ways, Saguaros are central to the character and ecology of the Sonoran Desert. Not many plants have national parks dedicated to them. Park rangers report that almost everyone who encounters the charismatic cacti wants to know more about them. Arizona Highway’s previous book of a similar title, by Carle Hodge, went through multiple editions. Now it has brought out a whole new book with Leo Banks. Well researched and packed with the great photography emblematic of Arizona’s renowned publication, this delightful new version does not disappoint. It is a fun and informative read that readers will want to share. Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also be interested in this book: The Great Cacti: Ethnobotany and Biogeography, by David Yetman. []

American Military Frontiers, The: The United States Army in the West, 1783-1900
By Robert Wooster. University of New Mexico Press. 361 pp. Index. $39.95.
The title/subtitle tells us the content of this excellent piece of history, and Wooster’s reputation for accuracy assures us of a satisfying account.


By Oscar Casares. Little, Brown & Co.. 368 pp. $23.99.
Casares fulfills the promise of "Brownsville," his much acclaimed 2003 short-story collection, in this debut novel in which two cantakerous old men find hope and a future at the end of the road. Seventy-something Celestino Rosales springs his estranged ninety-one-year-old brother, Fedencio, from a Brownsville, Texas, nursing home and the squabbling pair set out, in the company of Celestino's housekeeper/lover, on a bus ride into Mexico to settle, once-and-for-all, a much-disputed family story, By turns rollicking and moving, the trio's quest turns into a beautifully rendered meditation on memory and the emotional connections that defy physical and geographical borders. []
Some readers might want to think of this as a “roadtrip” novel. Alienated for many years, brothers Fidencio (he’s 90-something) and his younger brother Celestino (he’s not too old to have a housekeeper who is also his lover) set out from Fidencio’s nursing home to return to their childhood home in a small village in northern Mexico. By turns touching and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a story you will remember for a long, long time. Fidencio’s names for the staff of his nursing home are a hoot. He calls the women patients the Old Turtles and one of them is the One With Big Ones while a male staff member is the Gringo With Ugly Fingers! []

Ancient Southwest: Chaco Canyon, Bandelier, and Mesa Verde
By David E. Stuart. University of New Mexico Press. 152 pp. Index. $18.95.
Nearly 30 years ago Stuart was lead author on a book, Prehistoric New Mexico, Background for Survey. Intended as a guide for what was then the expanding field of salvage archaeology, it became a classic in archaeological literature of the Southwest. Subsequently he has written award-winning popular articles on southwestern archaeology published in New Mexico newspapers. This book collects 23 of those short, very readable, pieces on topics ranging from Folsom hunters and the Gila Wilderness to cliff palaces and Mimbres pottery. Enjoyable, accurate reading on New Mexico prehistory.

Arizona Wildlife: The Territorial years, 1863-1912
By David E. Brown. Arizona Game and Fish Department. 446 pp. Index. .
Relying on old newspaper accounts and chapters from pioneering studies, David Brown and three capable colleagues have constructed a picture of wildlife in Arizona between 1863 and 1912. There are many surprises: pronghorn were once plentiful, our rivers and streams teemed with native fishes, and most animal species were discovered before 1865. This is a fascinating look at “the old days,” which were both better and worse than we now imagine. The book also shows why we need game and fish laws and game wardens. Especially at this time of Arizona’s statehood centennial, Arizona Wildlife is an important retrospect. []

Armed Progressive: General Leonard Wood
By Jack C. Lane. University of Nebraska Press. 366 pp. Index. $19.95.

A new preface calling attention to General Leonard Wood’s experience as a colonial administrator provides the occasion for reprinting this 1978 biography of early 20th-century Army commander Leonard Wood.
Around Benson
By San Pedro Valley Arts and Historical Society , E. Kathy Suagee. Arcadia Pub. 127 pp. $21.99.
Latest in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series, this volume has the advantage of being written by a long-time resident of the town who manages a local bookstore and serves on its city council! More than 200 b/w photos give a sense of what the Benson, Arizona or course, area was like from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Around Tombstone: Ghost Towns and Gunfights
By Jane Eppinga. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. $21.99.

A presentation of over 180 historical photographs of Tombstone and vicinity, with commentary, in the Images of America series.
Bargaining for Eden: the Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America
By Stephen Trimble. University of California Press. 319 pp. Index. $29.95.

Award-winning author and photographer Stephen Trimble addresses the paradox of how development in the West is gradually destroying the very things that brought people to those locales in the first place.
Ben F. Williams Jr.'s More Tales of my Southwest
By Ben F. Williams, Jr. Smokin Z Press. 230 pp. $20.00.
Ben avers that these tales, mostly vignettes rather than beginning-to-ending stories, are all true–to the best of his recollection. Be that as it may, they are interesting little bits of personal life in the Southwest. From watching a horse die from eating too many mesquite beans to having a conversation with a bob cat (U of A fans stand up and shout Wildcat) enjoying its breakfast in the backyard of his Tucson foothills home, Williams has a good eye for the telling event. Easy reading for a cool spot in the summer heat, or a warm spot in the winter cool.

Big River, Rio Grande
By David Baxter, Laurence Parent. University of Texas Press. 111 pp. $39.95.

Master photographer Laurence Parent portrays the full length of the Rio Grande with its many moods and glorious scenery from Colorado to the gulf.
Big Sycamore Stands Alone: The Western Apaches, Aravaipa, and the Struggle for Place
By Ian W. Record. University of Oklahoma Press. 383 pp. $31.96.
In this provocative study, Record uses the 1871 massacre of peaceful Western Apaches on Aravaipa Creek by Anglo, Hispanic, and Tohono O'odham vigilantes as a lens through which to view Apache culture and lifeways and as a way of unraveling the complex political, social, and economic threads that erupted in frontier violence. Exhaustively researched in manuscript sources and Apache oral tradition, Record's richly textured examination of history and memory offers a compelling argument for the importance of place in defining how a people see themeselves and provides an overdue forum for native voices. []
The past few years have seen the publishing of exceptional works by historians revisiting the Camp Grant massacre, in which a large group of vigilantes from Tucson attacked a peaceful village of Indians while they slept and killed 144, almost all of them women and children. This is a story of the dark side of how the West was won. In this case, the winners turned out to be some of Tucson’s most prominent people, people whose names appear today on streets, schools, neighborhoods and geographic features. This book, extensively researched in cooperation with descendants of the dead, looks at the importance of place to a people and the profound effects of displacement. Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also find these books interesting:
* Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History, by Karl Jacoby;
* War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War, by Brian DeLay []

Blockading the Border and Human Rights : the El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement
By Timothy J. Dunn. University of Texas Press. 297 pp. Index. $50.00.
This thorough academic study provides in-depth analysis of the ways, and the reasons, U.S.-Mexico border policy has changed over the past decade-and-a-half. As Dunn sees it, decisions made by the El Paso sector Border Patrol were pivotal in a change from “apprehension and return” to deterrence. Initially very successful this change in approach presaged a dramatic swing in BP policy. He notes, however, that subsequent events have shown the difficulties in such an approach. He concludes with recommendations that, while certainly more humane, probably stand little chance of widespread adoption.

Blue Tattoo, The: The Life of Olive Oatman
By Margot Mifflin. University of Nebraska Press. 280 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
The 1851 Oatman tragedy continues to fascinate. Close on the heels of Brian McKinty's superb "The Oatman Massacre" (a 2005 SWBOY pick), Mifflin writes a haunting tale of captivity and a life lived in two worlds, as she painstaking separates fact from fiction in the sad story of Olive Oatman, the teenage girl held captive and returned to white society, where she became the reluctant central figure in an ongoing morality play projecting the lurid fears of Victorian America. Solid research in manuscript and ethnographic sources, coupled with a graceful writing style and a firm grasp of Olive Oatman's world(s), makes this a compelling and worthwhile read. []
No doubt about it, Olive Oatman's story is a good read. Here is Indian captivity, murder and adventure, Indians and the army, a long lost brother and sister reunited, a splinter sect of Mormon converts, the Methodists, an array of interesting cultures and innocent children. Hundreds of ;publications over time have distorted and magnified the story for its prurient interest. Mifflin gets it all in but lessens the drama by putting Olive's story in a cultural and historical perspective. The reader is left to reflect about Olive's complete acceptance of Mohave society since she expected never to return to her while world. Yet she did, and we become sympathetic to her situation and imagine the dilemma she faces in transition. []

Border Ambush
By Melody Groves. La Frontera Publishing. 256 pp. $19.95.

In this western novel, set in 1860 southern New Mexico, a stagecoach guard goes after the brutal bandits that held up his stage.
Border Bandits: Hollywood on the Southern Frontier
By Camilla Fojas. University of Texas Press. 235 pp. Index. $55.00.
Anyone with a serious interest in Westerns [the movies, that is] will enjoy Fojas evaluation of the genre. Although it is “academic” in presentation (i.e., footnotes, bibliography, etc.) it is readable and candid in style. Fojas has plenty of opinions, and she shares them freely! The title and subtitle can both be faulted as misleading; the geographical coverage here is broader than the border and as much if not more the southwestern frontier rather than just the southern frontier, the latter being generally restricted to Texas/Mexico. []
This thorough and provocative social commentary about Hollywood movies depicting the Southwest borderlands presents an alternative view as seen from Mexico and Hispanics. Fojas focuses on the Alamo, frontier, border crossers, drug wars, split cities, and myths by using a number of familiar films such as El Norte, Star Maps, Bread and Roses, Extreme Prejudice, Traffic, Vera Cruz, Borderline, and The Wild Bunch, among others. As with any film interpretation you may agree or disagree, but you’d better bring your A-game if you intend to debate Fojas. []

Border Crossing
By Jessica Lee Anderson. Milkweed Editions. 174 pp. $8.00.

Growing up in a small Texas town, teenager Isaiah "Manz" Martinez's struggle to cope with an alcoholic mother, an abused friend, and little opportunity for change is further complicated by his own descent into paranoid schizophrenia.
Border Renaissance: The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican American Literature
By John Moran Gonzalez. University of Texas Press. 259 pp. Index. $50.00.

The Texas Centennial of 1936 marked a turning point when Mexican Americans began to reclaim their rightful role in Texas history and identity in Texas culture.
By Nevada Barr. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 399 pp. $25.95.
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. []
During a rafting trip through Big Bend National Park, off-duty ranger Anna Pigeon encounters a near-lifeless pregnant woman floating in the Rio Grande. An emergency caesarian and a hail of gunfire set in motion the plot involving a mayor with her eyes on the governorship, the mayor's philandering husband, a world-weary body guard, and an iconoclastic park ranger. Veteran Barr delivers another page-turner in this popular series set in our national parks. []

Borderline Americans
By Katherine Benton-Cohen. Harvard University Press. 384 pp. Index. $29.95.
Top Pick
In this thoughtful and thought-provoking study, Benton-Cohen examines Cochise County history through the prism of shifting definitions of race and nationality. Viewed in this light, longstanding conflicts between town and country, agriculture and mining acquire deeper shades of meaning as prologue and aftermath of the county’s defining event—the 1917 Bisbee Deportation. Scholars will applaud Benton-Cohen’s thorough research and challenging analysis, while general readers will welcome her graceful prose and her eye for compelling characters and stories. []

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
By Christopher McDougall. Knopf. 304 pp. $24.95.
Top Pick
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.

Building to Endure: Design Lessons of Arid Lands
By Paul Lusk, Alf Simon. University of New Mexico Press. 296 pp. Index. $45.00.
Whether they are named Tucson, Albuquerque, Brisbane, Shibam, or Chaco, desert cities have much in common: shortages of water for drinking and farming, intense heat, limited local resources, and a surplus of people wishing to live there. In twelve chapters the subjects range from what makes -- or should make -- a viable desert city, to distributing water, to comfortable dwellings that use less utilities, and the experience of one designed desert community, Civano at Tucson. One of the best chapters is Kim Sorvig’s practical suggestions for creating low-water landscapes. Lest we think this book is solely a scholarly exercise, the first chapter, by David Stuart, reminds us that the Southwest’s mighty and apparently invincible Great House civilizations of a thousand years ago rose grandly, and then toppled face-first into their own dust. This book delivers much to think about. Are we building to endure? []

Two experts examine the history of human habitation in the Southwest and propose strategies to create more sustainable communities.
Bury Me Deep
By Megan Abbott. Simon & Schuster. 240 pp. $15.00.
A re-conceptualizing of the Winnie Ruth Judd case; different names, similar yet dramatically changed scenario. You remember Judd from Phoenix journalist Jana Bommersbach’s The Trunk Murderess. In an afterword the author admits her fascination with Judd’s case over the years, and here creates an alternative but very realistic world. One in which both the characters and the Roaring Twenties come to life. []

Captive Arizona, 1851-1900
By Victoria Smith. University of Nebraska Press. 294 pp. Index. $40.00.
The five decades covered by Smith fill most of the years between the end of the Mexican-American War and Arizona statehood. Years of social movement and turmoil as settlers, mostly Anglos, arrived in growing numbers each year and the Native Americans as well as Mexican citizens felt over-run and threatened as never before. Smith’s survey is more expository than evaluative as she provides narrative re-tellings of some well- known cases (e.g., the Oatman children and Larcena Pennington) as well as accounts not often considered in this category (e.g., Geronimo and Apache May), as their captivity was by members of what we now call the dominate culture. []

Cat in a Topaz Tango
By Carole Nelson Douglas. Forge. 413 pp. $24.99.

Feline detective Midnight Louie must solve a murder at a week-long celebrity dance event in Las Vegas.
Celebrating El Paso
By Mark Paulda. TCU Press. 120 pp. $29.95.
If you scan this book of more than 150 color photos, most of them full-page size, you may not notice at first that El Paso and environs appears to have no people—well… it can’t be true but there are none to be seen here!

Chaco and After in the Northern San Juan: Excavations at the Bluff Great House
By Catherine M. Cameron. University of Arizona Press. 280 pp. Index. Appendices included on compact disk.. $75.00.
Chaco Canyon, northwest New Mexico, became a major center of ancestral puebloan culture thriving about 1,000 years ago. In addition to monumental Pueblo Bonito, the canyon was home to other "great houses" as they came to be called. Ultimately, over 200 centers containing great houses are built in numerous sites in the San Juan basin. Great houses were pre-planned multi-storied public buildings with distinctive masonry, formal earthen architecture,and a great kiva. Archaeologists continue their interest in the Bluff site in southeast Utah with a detailed,comparative study of relationships with those in Chaco Canyon. Appendices on CD-ROM contain detailed descriptions of hundreds of artifacts recovered at the site. []
Cameron and nine others make this a solid contribution to southwestern archaeology relating to sites occupied in the 11th and 12th centuries. Intended, of course, for other archaeologists, the writing is both technical and filled with references to professional literature. But Cameron is an excellent writer making short sections of summaries and conclusions easy to comprehend. In a pocket at the back of the book is a CD with images of ceramics, projectile points, bone tools, etc. excavated at the site. As is pointed out in various places in the text, the certainty of a close cultural connection between Chaco Canyon (northwestern New Mexico) and Great Bluff House (southeastern Utah) is still being debated by archaeologists. []

Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid
By Xavier Garza. Cinco Puntos Press. $17.95.

Little Vincent tags along as Tio Pancho (aka Charro Claus) helps his cousin Santa deliver presents along the Rio Grande.
Chasing Geronimo: The Journal of Leonard Wood, May-September 1886
By Jack C. Lane, Leonard Wood. University of Nebraska Press. 172 pp. Index. $14.95.

The only diary of the Army's last campaign against Apache Chief Geronimo, kept by a doctor who received the Medal of Honor for his service in the expedition.
Chicana and Chicano art: ProtestArte
By Carlos Francisco Jackson. University of Arizona Press. 256 pp. Index. $17.95.
Quite a wonderful survey and summary of an extremely diverse topic. Jackson covers everything from sweeping movements such as a section labeled “Chicano Nationalism and Pre-Columbian Culture” to detailed descriptions such as a section labeled “Taller de Grafica Popular”. The illustrations (there are 43 of them, which is an absolute minimum) are all in small (meaning much smaller than page-size) black and white thus give no true sense of the glorious colors of the originals; too bad. On the other hand, lots of color would drive the price way-up and with its sections of “discussion questions” and “reading lists” this is obviously aimed at a student market. []

Church of the Old Mermaids
By Kim Antieau. Ruby Rose's Fairy Tale Emporium. 289 pp. $15.00.
Myla Alvarez is a little spacey. She sells “found things” mostly from Tucson’s dry washes and riverbeds, displaying them on a card table on 4th Avenue. And she has a secret life harboring illegal border-crossers in a house which she calls the Church of the Old Mermaids, named for the mermaids she believes once lived on the vast inland sea that is now the desert. Somewhat kooky, yes, but Antieau has good control of dialog, and the events move along at their own speed and with their own logic. []

Colorado Water Law for Non-Lawyers
By Thomas Cech, P. Andrew Jones. University Press of Colorado. 276 pp. Index. $26.95.

Discusses the unique aspects of Colorado water law in layman's terms, and identifies issues of future importance.
Comb Ridge and its People: the Ethnohistory of a Rock
By Robert S. McPherson. Utah State University Press. 252 pp. Index. $26.95.
A unique geological feature spanning southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona, Comb Ridge is a jagged monocline 100 miles long that presents sheer Navajo Sandstone cliffs up to 200 feet high on its western face and highly eroded fractured gullies on its eastern slopes. The huge, bent, folded, faulted and eroded rock formation is both a striking barrier to travel and a complex sheltering warren of protective micro environments. Archeological studies have revealed a record of habitation going back to the paleo-Indians of 12,000 BC. This is an exploration of this unusual geographical feature and its effects over time on the region and its people, from those remote beginnings to the present. The author is a historian of the region who also lives there and is very familiar with his subject and locale. While it is based on a federally sponsored five-year study and very well researched, the book is written for popular audiences and beautifully illustrated with striking photographs. This is an important contribution to our understanding of the region and its history. []

An exploration of a unique and imposing geological feature in southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona, a huge monocline 100 miles long that presents jagged sheer cliffs 200 feet high on its western face, and its effects on the region.
Common Kingsnakes: A Natural History of Lampropeltis getula
By , Brian Hubbs. Tricolor Books. 436 pp. $60.00.
I love books by passionate people who devote their lives to arcane studies. This book by Brian Hubbs fills that bill, for he has assembled a virtual library of information about common kingsnakes that range across the lower USA from coast to coast, including much of the Southwest. If you are seeking information on kingsnake habitat, biology, subspecies and morphs, regional differences, rearing, or finding, this is your book. The many (560-some!) color and B/W photos are excellent. It even comes with a dose of enthusiasm and camaraderie. Hubbs has been part of a large community of herpetologists and amateur observers for 25 years. Long live kingsnakes and authors like Hubbs! []

Conflict and Commerce on the Rio Grande: Laredo, 1755-1955
By John A. Adams. Texas A&M University Press. 286 pp. Index. $29.95.
Filled to the brim with tables, glossary,photographs, maps, and extensive notes along with a comprehensive bibliography, the volume details the business history of Laredo. Texas' second oldest town was strategically located on the Rio Grande ultimately to become a primary inland port for trade and commerce. The book will mainly be enjoyed by academics []

Conflict on the Rio Grande: Water and the Law, 1879-1939
By Douglas R. Littlefield. University of Oklahoma Press. 312 pp. Index. $39.95.
Newcomers to Western American water law have every right to scratch their heads at the apparent lack of reason and logic as well as what seems to be purposeful lack of clarity. The conundrum only deepens when it comes to the laws governing U. S. relations with Mexico, vis a vis water, that are largely governed by decisions made on the Rio Grande. Douglas Littlefield's book explains early interstate and international water-apportionment conflicts that shaped the institutions whose general outlines remain the same today. This book should be of interest to environmental historians, water scholars, and others who like their reading about water detailed, complex, and without happy endings.

Connections: a Visual Journal
By Ford Robbins. Red Mountain Press. 95 pp. $44.95.

A wordless collection of black-and-white photographs of largely southwestern scenes.
Cool Plants for Hot Gardens
By Greg Starr. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 328 pp. Index. $24.85 (pbk).
Gregg Starr freely admits that his hobby has gone wild. For three decades he and a posse of hard-core plantsmen have scouted and touted wild native plants for town gardens. These nursery-men collect a few wild seeds or cuttings and then nurture and “tame” them into viable landscape plants for Southwest homes and offices. This book is a colorful catalogue of what’s possible. Using arid-land plants from the Southwest, and a few from Africa and Australia, yards go from drab to fun, as well as provide habitat for native wildlife. This book lets the reader interview over 200 plant-candidates for home planting. The text, clear and instructive, ranges from how to identify plants to how to keep them alive, and the plants themselves range from A to Z, Abutilon palmeri, a golden-flowered fuzzy-leafed favorite to Zinnia grandiflora, a wild zinnia that lends cheer much of the year. Everyone from the advanced gardener to the desert newcomer will enjoy this one. []

Court-Martial of Apache Kid, the Renegade of Renegades
By Clare V. McKanna. Texas Tech University Press. 256 pp. Index. $29.95.
McKanna utilizes the transcript of the 1888 court-martial of Apache Kid, an Indian scout tried for desertion and mutiny, to examine the wokings of the military and civil justice systems as they applied to Native Americans in territorial Arizona. Although directed primarily at scholars, this study sheds new light on one of the Southwest's enduring legends, while also measuring the tragic consequences of legal confusion and cultural misunderstanding. []

Cowboy Park: Steer-Roping Contests on the Border
By John O. Baxter. Texas Tech University Press. 236 pp. Index. $24.95.
Baxter shines a light into an overlooked corner of borderlands' culture in this meticulous history of the 1907-1912 cowboy competitions staged in Juarez, Mexico. Inaugurated after Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona oulawed steer-roping, these contests drew hundreds of spectators to watch world-class ropers vie for prize money at the Cowboy Park arena. Baxter makes a strong case that champions like Clay McGonigle, Joe Gardner, and others spread the seeds of modern-day rodeo to South America, Canada, and points in between Dozens of rare photographs capture the excitement of the sport and the faces of these colorful pioneers. []

Creed of Violence, The
By Boston Teran. Counterpoint. 260 pp. $25.00.
It’s 1910. What would become the Mexican Revolution is just heating up. Agent John Lourdes (not his birth name) of the recently organized Bureau of Investigation is working undercover in El Paso. When he becomes involved in relaying a truck load of German -manufactured weapons it becomes clear that the “salesman” known as Rawbone is none other than the father who abandoned him at birth. Rousing tale of intrigue, double-cross, triple-cross and international politics. Not nearly so prosaic as this short review might make it sound: Teran writes good believable dialog and moves the story along at break-neck speed. []

Cricket in the Web: the 1949 Unsolved Murder that Unraveled Politics in New Mexico
By Paula Moore. University of New Mexico Press. 215 pp. Index. $18.95.

Details the evidence from the 1949 investigation into the murder of Las Cruces resident, Ovida "Cricket" Coogler, and discusses the ramifications of the case.
Criminal Justice in Native America
By Marianne O. Nielsen, Robert A. Silverman. University of Arizona Press. 256 pp. Index. $34.95.
The 14 chapters in this book range broadly across topics such as patterns of Native American crime, juvenile criminal justice and the jurisdictional jungle. There are elements related to southwestern Native Americans throughout, but this is not a regional book, but a sourcebook for students interested in the general topic of its title. []

Critical Mass
By Whitley Streiber. Forge. 301 pp. $24.95.
Radioactive South Texas border crossers and the nuclear destruction of Las Vegas set in motion this fast-paced thriller that pits a CIA operative and his Muslim wife against a world-wide terrorist network that has infiltrated the highest levels of government and threatens to destroy western civilization. It's a tribute to Stieber's fertile imagination that this apocalyptic fantasy seems almost plausible. []

Crossers: A Novel
By Philip Caputo. Alfred A. Knopf. 448 pp. $26.95.
Past and present collide in this gritty borderlands novel. A successful Wall Street executive grieving for his wife killed in the 9/ll terrorist attacks seeks peace on his family's ranch outside Patagonia, Arizona. Instead, he encounters a hauntingly beautiful landscape scarred by violence. Caputo creates an unforgettable portrait of the new west, peopled by old-time ranchers and modern-day drug runners, where right and wrong are seldom obvious and where necessity calls the shots. His riveting tale has the chilling ring of truth. []
Beginning in Lochiel before the Mexican Revolution Caputo opens a vista for understanding the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. In today’s world Gil Castle, who has lost his wife in the 9/11 disaster, tries to escape his mental misery by moving into a cabin on the border ranch of a distant relative. Naturally there are illegal border crossers to contend with, but one severely desperate one becomes a way to get back in touch with humanity. Alternately, Caputo spans the 20th century in the form of a transcript of a memoir from 1966 stored in the Arizona Historical Society. Believe me, not all the bad guys on the border are modern drug runners and people smugglers. Smoothly written, the connections from past to present and culture to culture are insightful and exciting.

Crossing Borders with the Santo Niño de Atocha
By Juan Javier Pescador. University of New Mexico Press. 280 pp. Index. $34.95.

Growing up in Zacatecas (he now teaches at Michigan State) Pescador remembers annual visits to the shrine known as Nuestra Senora de Atocha: a stature of the Virgin Mary holding the Santo Nino in her hand. Here he recounts what his research has revealed about the history/culture of this image beginning in Spain in the early 16th century.
Cruel Intent
By J.A. Jance. Simon & Schuster. 339 pp. $25.95.
(fiction) Ali is working on renovating the home she inherited, but trouble seeks her out again. When the wife of her general contractor is murdered, he becomes suspect #1. Thinking he is innocent, Ali sets out to follow a lead. The wife had joined, a website membership organization catering to married people who want to play around. After she logs onto the site, her computer security contractor, a former hacker, advises her that she ended up with a trojan that can track her every keystroke and open the door to her computer and email. When Ali asks him to take countermeasures, neither of them realize what the extent of the consequences might be. []

Daring the Moon
By Sherrill Quinn. Brava. 264 pp. $14.00.
Taite Gibson works as an investigator for the Pima County Attorney’s office, and she is being stalked through the streets of Tucson by a werewolf. Which does not stop Quinn from describing her amorous adventures in detail.

Dead in Their Tracks: Crossing America's Desert Borderlands in the New Era
By John Annerino. University of Arizona Press. 242 pp. Index. $17.95.
It is one of the hottest issues in America today: deteriorating conditions in other countries are driving large numbers of desperate people to attempt to enter the United State through our southern border with Mexico illegally under very dangerous circumstances. For the past decade, hundreds have died each year in the attempt. Many books have been written about this situation, but this one is special. Over many years, John Annerino has come to know the southern border regions like few others and he is an accomplished journalist and photographer. This book tells of his remarkable experiences investigating the realities of the border crisis from the points of view of both the migrants coming from Mexico and the U.S. Border Patrol personnel who apprehend and save many of them. In the process, Annerino risked his own life to travel with migrants from Mexico into the U.S. across the very desert in which thousands have died, in order to understand them and their lives. He also accompanied Border Patrol personnel in airplanes, helicopters, patrol vehicles and on foot to get to know them and the reality of their dangerous experience as well. As if that weren’t enough, he researched the subject so well that he created one of the first compilations of many related records for his extensive appendices. This update to the previous edition is an important and significant contribution to our understanding of these matters. Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also be interested in these books, all previous or current Southwest Books of the Year:
* Vanishing Borderlands: The Fragile Landscape of the U.S.-Mexico Border, by John Annerino;
* Exodus / Exido, by Charles Bowden, et al.;
* The Reaper's Line: Life and Death on the Mexican Border, by Lee Morgan; and this year’s
* Into the Beautiful North: A Novel, by Luis Alberto Urrea. []
This third edition of a Southwest classic is much revised and even more powerful. Based on extensive first-hand research, including risking death on foot in the desert, John Annerino chronicles deeply personal events for both the immigrants and for the Border Patrol. This vivid book is mandatory reading for anyone wishing to understand the human costs of illegal immigration, costs for crossers, locals residents, and Border Patrol agents themselves. Copies of both this and the first edition are on my short shelf of favorite books. It would be a pick of the year except that it was previously chosen in 1999. Dead in Their Tracks is Annerino’s finest and most noble work. []

Dead or Alive
By Michael McGarrity. Dutton Adult. 304 pp. $25.95.
The murder of his ranching partner brings retired Santa Fe sheriff Kevin Kearny back from his wife's military duty post in London to New Mexico, where he joins his half-Apache son, Clayton Istee, on the manhunt for a deranged serial killer. McGarrity has the police procedural down pat and creates just enough tension to keep readers turning the pages. A surprising twist at the very end will keep fans on the edges of their seats for the next installment of the well-plotted series. []

Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West
By James lawrence Powell. University of California Press. 283 pp. Index. $27.50.
This excellent book is about fictions, and it skillfully portrays the fictions behind western water policies over the past century. Starkly put, the Southwest faces an increasingly dry future. Think of the glass half empty, perpetually. As Powell clearly and logically explains, “We can save either Lake Powell or Lake Mead, but not both” (page 246). By extension, we can save cities or farms, but not both, and some cities but not all. Regardless, we must carve for ourselves new lifestyles that conserve water. If a neighborhood book group would select this one instead of fiction, the group’s discussion would go long into the night. []

Deadliest Outlaws, The: the Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch
By Jeffrey Burton. University of North Texas Press. 504 pp. Index. $34.95.
The Ketchum gang tallied an impressive criminal record at the turn of the twentieth-century: seven killings and seven railway heists across West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona during its two-year rampage. Tom Ketchum holds the unenviable distinction as the only man in the United States executed for attempted train robbery. Burton, an English avocational historian of the American West, leaves no stone unturned or story untold in chronicling the gang's history, including the survivors' subsequent criminal activities with Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. This version updates and expands the 100-copy limited edition published in England in 2006. []

Desert Days: My Life as a Field Archaeologist
By Fred Wendorf. Southern Methodist University Press. 407 pp. Index. $29.95.
Severely wounded in WWII Wendorf never fully recovered use of his right arm. His early fascination with arrow points at his Texas home led him to an undergraduate degree in anthropology at the University of Arizona and on to graduate studies at Harvard. Field work at Point of Pines directed by Emil Haury was just the first of his southwestern archaeological efforts during his early working years. He also did salvage archaeology, during those years, in New Mexico and pollen studies on the llano estacado of West Texas. Nothing stuffy and academic here; Wendorf remembers and writes with the warmth of a living room chat.

Autobiography of archaeologist Fred Wendorf, whose career took him to Egypt, Sudan, and parts of the southwestern United States.
Desert Lost: a Lena Jones Mystery
By Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pp. $24.95.

While running surveillance in an industrial section of Scottsdale, P.I. Lena Jones discovers the body of a woman connected to Second Zion, an infamous polygamy cult based in northern Arizona.
Desert Rose and Her Highfalutin Hog
By Alison Jackson, Keith Graves. Walker & Co. $16.99.
Gritty Desert Rose is the proud owner of "the biggest, fattest hog in all of Texas." Surely he'll take the prize at the State Fair ... or, he will, IF Rose can get him to move. Can help from an armadillo, a longhorn, a bronco, a cowboy, a snake, and a lazy coyote save the day? Jackson's southwestern homage to "The House that Jack Build" will bring out your inner Texan, especially if you read it aloud. Ages 4-8. []

Desert Rose seeks help from a variety of sources to get her stubborn pig to the state fair.
Diaries of John Gregory Bourke Volume 4: July 3, 1880-May 22,1881
By Charles M III Robinson. Univ of North Texas Press. 545 pp. Index. $55.00.
Robinson performs a great service for scholars and general readers with his ongoing publication of the diaries of this preeminent nineteenth-century soldier-scientist perhaps best known for "On the Border with Crook," his classic account of the Apache wars in Arizona. In this volume, Bourke chronicles his duties as a staff officer and with the Ponca Commission on the Great Plains, and provides an insightful commentary, including ethnographic observations, on his tour of the Navajo Reservation and the Zuni pueblos in New Mexico. Robinson's annotations clarify obscure references and identify persons mentioned in the diary. []

This volume continues the series begun with volume one in 2003, expertly edited and annotated by Charles M. Robinson III. As an aide to General George Crook, and prolific journal keeper, Bourke provides details of army life during the Indian Wars, and details of Native American cultures, especially the Navajos.
Doctor's Legacy, A: A Memoir of Merlin K. Duval
By Linda Valdez. University Of Arizona Press. 302 pp. $29.95.
“Monte” to all who knew him personally, Duval had a mane of white hair and the look of a TV personality. He was a quick-witted speaker and a man with the intelligence to not only found and run a medical school but the ability move with ease on the national medical scene. His professional life consumed so much of his attention and energy that only in his later years did he realize how much he had missed in the growth of his children. His memoir, smoothly presented by Valdez, builds in some sense, a life he wished he had led as well as the productive life he did lead.

Dog Who Loved Tortillas, The = La Perrita Que le Encantaban las Tortillas
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Geronimo Garcia. Cinco Puntos Press. 36 pp. $17.95.

In this bilingual (English/Spanish) story, siblings Diego and Gabriela adopt a puppy named Sofie and nurse her through illness.
Dolores Huerta Reader, A
By Mario T. García. University of New Mexico Press. 350 pp. $27.95.

Compilation of essays, interviews, and letters by and about a Dolores Huerta, who was instrumental in founding the United Farm Workers of America.
Dorothea Lange: a Life Beyond Limits
By Linda Gordon. W.W. Norton. 536 pp. Index. $35.00.
Gordon turns her social historian's eyes on the woman she describes as "America's preeminent photographer of democracy" during the Great Depression. More an analysis of Lange's life and work than an intimate portrait of the woman and artist, Gordon's massive biography should appeal to scholars and serious readers who will appreciate the author's careful measuring of sources and her provocative assessment of the wellsprings of Lange's artistry (including childhood polio and her marriages to the painter Maynard Dixon and Berkeley professor Paul Schuster Taylor), as well as its historical importance and modern relevance. []

By Libby Fischer Hellmann. Bleak House Books. 344 pp. $24.95.
Chicago PI Georgia Davis and her friend Ellie Foreman link up again, but the cry for help from a mother whose daughter has been abducted doesn’t need their efforts for the daughter turns up safe and sound. Then the mother is killed when the brakes on her car fail! Hellmann keeps the mysteries coming as the trail leads them into our Southwest. In an Arizona border town they begin to see smuggled drugs, illegal immigrants and a contract security company all converge to threaten their lives. With several mysteries to her credit, Hellmann knows how to make the reader turn the pages. []

Dr. Charles David Spivak: a Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement
By Jeanne E. Abrams. University Press of Colorado. 264 pp. Index. $34.95.

Biography of a doctor who became a leader in the reform movement to fight tuberculosis in the late 1900's.
Dreaming the Biosphere: The Theater of all Possibilities
By Rebecca Reider. University of New Mexico Press. 310 pp. Index. $39.95.

This is the story behind the story of human researchers attempting to live in an ectopian self-contained biosphere in Arizona for two years, with predictable human successes and failures.
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.
Top Pick
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. []

Explorer's Guide to Death Valley National Park , The
By T. Scott Bryan, Betty Tucker-Bryan. University Press of Colorado. 496 pp. Index. $23.95.

The paperback edition of the 1995 first complete guidebook for the largest park in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S.
Family Ranch, The: Land, Children, and Tradition in the American West
By Madeleine Graham Blake, Linda Hussa. University of Nevada Press. 239 pp. Index. $24.95.
Here are some nice stories about the challenges and changes in ranching in the American West. The problem is: where in the American West? Are Walking Box and Crooked Creek ranches in our area of concern for Southwest Books? No location was given in each chapter head. There was no index to help. With effort, I found one ranch in Oregon; one in northern California, and another in northern Nevada. Too bad. It would have been so easy to list a location in the chapter head with the name of the ranch. []

Finding Beauty in a Broken World
By Terry Tempest Williams. Pantheon Books. 419 pp. $26.00.
Beginning with a mosaic class in Ravenna, Italy, Williams searches for the physical and metaphoric glue holding together the pieces of a world shattered in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. From her observations as part of a prairie dog recovery effort in the Utah desert and with a genocide memorial project in Rwanda, she finds hope in community and in the interaction between man/womankind and the natural world. This prose mosaic, pieced together from carefully crafted fragments, ultimately adds up to more than the sum of its parts. []

Finding Susie
By Sandra Day O'Connor, Tom Pohrt. Alfred A. Knopf. $16.99.
Top Pick
In this autobiographical tale by the former US Supreme Court Justice, young Sandra finds herself hoping “this will be the year when Mother and Dad will let me have a pet…” Over the summer, she attempts to tame several wild animals, including a tortoise, rabbit, coyote, and baby bobcat. Sandra’s efforts to make each her ideal pet are described in calm language that effectively advances the story and conveys a sense of the supportive environment in which the author was raised. When, inevitably, each animal must be set free, a loving adult is present to cushion the blow. At long last, Sandra meets the vivacious Susie, a little dog perfectly amenable to domestic life. We’re glad for them both! Tom Pohrt’s illustrations capture the stark beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and give expression and individuality to an exceptional family. []

Fire and Ice
By J. A. Jance. William Morrow. 338 pp. $25.99.
(fiction) When the spring thaw in the Cascade Mountains uncovers the remains of a young woman, Washington State special investigator J.P. Beaumont hopes it will yield new evidence in a string of similar murders. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady is wondering what happened in the sand dunes that left a man dead, under three sets of tire tracks. Connecting the dots, investigators eventually bridge the 1500 mile gap between Washington and Arizona and reunite the protagonists of Jance’s two longest running mystery series to solve a brutal tangle of lawlessness. In the process, Jance offers some interesting insight into the impacts of human trafficking.

Fool's Gold
By Dexter K. Oliver. Duncan, AZ: Dexter K. Oliver. 233 pp. Unable to located book in WorldCat or Amazon. CJ. $$16.00.

Advertised as an irreverent romp, this self-published erotic novel involves wildlife biologist Wade Horn and his acquaintances around the community of Ajo.
Forester's Log, The: Musings from the Woods
By Mary Stuever. University of New Mexico Press. 264 pp. Index. $24.95.
The author is a career forester and fire fighter, and this book is a compilation of her brief articles told with gentle humor and first-hand authority for local newspapers. But this book is much more than that. It is the adventure of fighting forest fires in Arizona and New Mexico, the challenge of managing forests, and the joys of being in the woods. It is also insightful. Forest ecology has evolved since Smokey the Bear– “Where foresters in the 1960s and 1970s were focused on ‘board feet,’ today’s decisions are based on values such as ‘preserving biodiversity’ or ‘restoring ecosystem functions’ (p. 108).” Forester’s Log is worth reading, especially for its descriptions and discussion of the infamous Rodeo-Chediski fire of Arizona’s White Mountains. []

A collection of Stuever's essays on Southwest forestry, previously published in her syndicated column, "The Forester's Log.
Frequently Asked Questions About Butterflies
By Rose Houk, Paul Mirocha, Abby Mogollón. Western National Parks Association. 18 pp. $5.95.
Butterflies happen when caterpillars put on their best duds in order to find a mate and reproduce. Having just visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens’ wonderful annual butterfly exhibit, we were pleased to encounter this book. In the first paragraph, we learned that there are over 18,000 species of butterflies worldwide and over 600 in the western U.S. The states with the greatest number of species in the U.S. are Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, due largely to size, location, and wide range of habitat. Beautifully illustrated, sticking to basics and very readable, this is a another fine book in the Western National Parks Association’s great series on the wonders of nature. For those who wonder about butterflies, this is just the ticket.

Readers who enjoy this book might also be interested in others in this series like:
* Frequently Asked Questions about Hummingbirds, * Frequently Asked Questions about the Saguaro, and * Frequently Asked Questions about Western Sand Dunes. []

A beautifully illustrated, basic book with interesting information about butterflies, in the Western National Parks Association's series on the wonders of nature.
Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor
By Marcela Valladolid. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. 240 pp. $22.50.

A cookbook for creative, contemporary Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on health and practicality by TV culinary personality Marcela Valladolid.
From Guns to Gavels: How Justice Grew Up in the Outlaw West
By Bill Neal. Texas Tech University Press. 364 pp. Index. $29.95.
Award winner Neal recounts historic incidents set in Texas (and one from Montana) of frontier outlawry as the West was becoming tame. They are not inter-connected, but characters, both good-guys and bad-guys, appear from time to time in different places, mostly in the area around the Red River. Smoothly written for easy reading, but thoroughly documented for those who want to know more detail.
Only in Texas! If one likes to read a collection of real-life stories of murder, violence, and nasty politics in exhaustive detail, this book is for you Just about every individual is an angry man filled with desire for revenge. There is a tiring number of posses and vigilante justice. Moreover, sitting judges often made their own law, depending on the situation and his point of view of the moment. The author, a criminal lawyer, has amassed an amazing number of facts to present first the background, and second, both the prosecution and defense opinions of the various trials recorded here. []

Further Adventures: A Novel
By Jon Stephen Fink. Harper Perennial. 368 pp. "Published as a 500-page paperback original in 1993, Further Adventures was ahead of its time. returns in an all-new slimmed-down twenty-first-century edition revised by the author." (book Jacket). $14.99.
Called on its cover “a classic revised” this is a slimmed-down version of Fink’s 1991 novel that ran to 500 pages. Reminding me somewhat of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, here a 1950s radio super-hero finds himself in his 70s in small town New Mexico forced to play a real-life hero by circumstances far beyond his control. Sometimes the circumstances seem beyond the author’s control as well.

Gems and Minerals of the Southwest
By Jennifer Sano , Jeffrey A. Scovil. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 95 pp. Index. $14.95.

A geologist and photographer team up on a beautifully illustrated basic guide to over 90 minerals.
Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier: Notorious Killings and Celebrated Trials
By Gordon Morris Bakken, Bill Neal. Texas Tech University Press. 328 pp. Index. $18.95.

A compilation of historical events showing how justice in the old West was often highly subjective and had little basis in law.
Ghost Ranch: And the Faraway Nearby
By Craig Varjabedian. University of New Mexico Press. 128 pp. $45.00.
I have heard it said that for each person there is some special place, some conglomeration, or lack thereof, of trees, sky, desert, mountains, water that speaks somehow to the private self. Ghost Ranch, northwest of Abiquiu, New Mexico, is a place that has been that special place of attraction for multitudes including, of course, Georgia O’Keeffe who made it her home place for decades. And Varjabedian has done justice to it in presenting 91 black and white, full-page images that show its stark beauty, mostly without signs of human habitation. An essay by Belden C. Lane speaks to the question of “sacred landscapes” and Douglas A. Fairfield’s essay on Varjabedian’s aesthetics of imagery, though it comes last in the book, would in fact be an excellent piece of reading before looking at the images. []

Gila Country Legend: The Life and Times of Quentin Hulse
By Nancy Coggeshall. University of New Mexico Press. 280 pp. Index. $29.95.
Historian Durwood Ball describes the late Quentin Hulse as "the real thing"; readers of this eloquently written biography of the New Mexico rancher, hunter, guide, and outfitter will quickly understand why. Coggeshall, Hulse's companion during his twilight years, has assembled a moving portrait of the man that never descends into hagiography. Rather, what emerges from her recollections, interviews, and painstaking research is the story of a southwestern original, complete with the full complement of flaws and shortcomings, who nonetheless did the right thing as he saw it and was of one piece with the land he inhabited. Coggeshall has produced a rare thing: an uncommon testimonial to a common man. []

Glass of Water, A
By Jimmy Santiago Baca. Grove Press. 240 pp. $23.00.
Baca brings to his first novel all the passionate intensity that infuses his award-winning poetry and autobiographical writings. Two brothers - one angry and rebellious, the other thoughtful and committed to the land - fight in their own ways to overcome injustice and prejudice until the search for their mother's killer unites them in a common cause. Baca offers a bracing, no-holds barred view of immigrant field workers and their stuggles to carve out a piece of the American dream from a landscape where "a glass of water is the most important thing." []

Golondrina, Why Did You Leave Me?: a Novel
By Bárbara Renaud González. University of Texas Press. 176 pp. $24.95.
This multi-generational saga spins along at break-neck speed, and yet at times poetically. The narrator, Amada’s daughter, is compelled to tell her mother’s story: marriage to a brutal man in north eastern Mexico at age 13, escape across the Rio Grande, and three weeks later a marriage to a Texan...and away we go. Her new husband, the love of her life, is the heir to a heritage: he wants to take back the thousands of acres stolen by Richard King to become part of the fabled King Ranch. Aiii! []

Good Trade, A: Three Generations of Life and Trading Around the Indian Capital Gallup, New Mexico
By John D. Kennedy. Xlibris. .
This book was a great disappointment. I was looking forward to learning about the trading business over three generations in New Mexico. Unfortunately, those nuggets were hard to find because Kennedy used the opportunity to write a personal family memoir, filling the pages from from edge to edge with Courier type. The book needed an editor and a good designer.The photo on the cover was out of focus. []

Grave Images: San Luis Valley
By Kathy T. Hettinga. Museum fo New Mexico Press. 180 pp. $45.00.

Grave stones and cemetery art tell much about this community in southwestern Colorado as shown in these skillful photographs by Kathy Hettinga.
Graves at Seven Devils, The
By Peter Brandvold. Berkley Books. 233 pp. $5.99.

In this western novel, when bandits kill her cousin's family near the Arizona border, a woman bounty hunter and her sidekick go after them.
Great Basin, The: People and Place in Ancient Times
By Catherine S. Fowler, Don D. Fowler. Santa Fe, N.M. : School for Advanced Research Press. 166 pp. Index. $24.95.
The Great Basin is a large area in the heart of the American West that is notable for having streams and rivers that do not reach the sea: they drain into basins like the Great Salt Lake, most of which evaporate into dry salt pans. When latter day settlers arrived, they discovered scattered oases with good water where people could survive, and claimed it for themselves. Modern archeologists have found evidence of an even more remarkable story: the habitation of this dry desert by humankind goes back for millennia. This very readable book is part of a series published for popular audiences by the School for Advanced Research Press in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Written by a selected group of archaeologists who are experts in the region, it tells the fascinating story of what science has learned so far of the peoples who have inhabited this region during the past 13,000 years. Readers who enjoy this book might also be interested in this book, a 2008 Southwest Book of the Year: Fragile Patterns: The Archeology of the Western Papagueria, edited by Jeffrey H. Altschul, et al. []

Greg Lasley's Texas Wildlife Portraits
By Greg Lasley. Texas A&M University Press. 128 pp. Index. $30.00.
Acclaimed photographer Greg Lasley’s work has taken him around the world, but this fine collection focuses on the wildlife of his home state, much of which is common to other parts of the Southwest. With telephoto and macro shots, he brings the birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and arachnids to life, up-close and amazing. These stunning images must rank among the best you’ll find anywhere: a memorable and exciting visual treat. []

Guarding the Border: The Military Memoirs of Ward Schrantz, 1912-1917
By Jeffrey L. Patrick, Ward L. Schrantz. Texas A&M University Press. 205 pp. Index. $29.95.
This is the memoir of Ward Schrantz, a US Army soldier stationed along the Texas-Mexico border during the hey-day of Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa. He tells the human side of serving in military outposts and tent encampments. He candidly, and without complaint, tells the realities of sleeping on army cots and trying to keep dry under G.I ponchos. His camp humor, such as sneaking into Nuevo Laredo against orders, mixes with sympathetic character sketches or his bunkmates and even his sergeants. When in 1917 the US joined the battle of WWI, Schrantz was sent to the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France, and he later served in WWII. This is an excellent “duty tour” of soldier life, backed by Jeff Patrick’s thorough background research. []
Actually, there were fewer scrapes and fewer battles during the time Ward Schrantz served with the U. S. Army to keep peace along the Texas-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. Here is a good memoir that describes how the army worked, traveled, ate, and lived during an interesting period in history. By the way, It is a good read. []

Guitars and Adobes, and the Uncollected Stories of Fray Angélico Chávez
By Angelico Chavez, Ellen McCracken. Museum of New Mexico Press. 292 pp. $24.95.

The title piece in this collection is a short novel published serially when Chavez was in his early 20s. The “uncollected” stories were published in 1929 and the 1930s when he was at the beginning of a long (he lived to be 82) and widely published career.
Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel
By Jeannette Walls. Scribner. 288 pp. $26.00.
Top Pick
The true-life to which the subtitle refers is that of Walls’ grandmother, Lily, a no-nonsense woman who grew up in the old western way, on ranches around horses. Not a novel in the strict sense it might better be thought of as fictional autobiography for it is a life personally revealed by the woman who lived it. Filled with down-home wit and wisdom (“If you can’t stop a horse, sell him, Dad liked to say, and if you can’t sell him, shoot him”), the tale moves through hard times as bad as the Great Depression, and worse, the suicide of a sister, to good times with expanding business, private planes and private landing strips. Fine book. []
Lily Casey Smith takes her place among the growing circle of spunky western heroines in memoirist ("The Glass Castle") Walls' "true-life" novel based on her grandmother's adventures as a ranch woman and school teacher in West Texas, New Mexico, and northern Arizona. Walls is a talented writer blessed with a quirky family. Readers will quickly find themselves swept along in a current that is perhaps broader than it is deep, but nonetheless provides a fun ride as Lily clobbers adversity and cuts her own path across a hard land. []

Healing the West: Voices of Culture and Habitat
By Jack Loeffler. Museum of New Mexico Press. 176 pp. $34.95.
Have you ever gone to a stimulating conference about the interplay between people and nature, and then tried to remember what all the speakers said? This is that conference, one of Native Americans and conservationists discussing the fate of northern New Mexico. The conversations are drawn from 25 years of Jack Loeffler’s interviews with a wide range of insightful, interesting people. From these, he constructs a book with three sections: “spirit of the place,” “shifting coordinates” and “moving waters.” An audio CD is included. I do wish that the book’s design more clearly defined the conversations from the short biographies and editor’s bridges. The topic is timely and deserved a more emphatic punch. Perhaps readers will benefit from reading the Hopi afterword first. The battles for control of the Southwest continue. []

Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest: the Definitive Guide: Medicinal & Edible Plants; Collection, Preparation, Use, & Cautions
By Charles W. Kane. Lincoln Town Press. 346 pp. Index. $24.95.

Discover complete medicinal and edible uses for more than 210 western plants, along with methods for collection, preparation, and cautions. Color photographs and paintings aid identification.
Heritage Farming in the Southwest
By Gary Nabhan. Western National Parks Association. 63 pp. .
Old time crops of Native Americans and westward settlers are now being grown on small heritage farms in order to produce more food with less water and to retain crop variety. The idea is to keep the larder full while avoiding the mono-culture produce and grains found at modern supermarkets. Varieties of chickens, sheep, cows, and pigs are also raised. Renowned ethnobiologist Gary Nabhan, a driving force in heritage farming, provides a fascinating and clear introduction not only to the crops but to places where visitors can touch the past, such as Rancho de las Gonondrinas, Tumacácori Mission, Capitol Reef, and Hubbell Trading Post. This traditional farming “involves the integration of drought-tolerant farming techniques with modern technological advances and the creative marketing of place-based foods” (page 27). Nabhan calls this a tasty miracle, aka Southwest cuisine. The book is lavishly illustrated but overdesigned and, in places, hard to read.
Nabhan’s legion of fans will also enjoy his new Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine (Island Press, 2009), though it is not about the Southwest per se.

Historic Photos of Arizona
By Dick Buscher, Linda Buscher. Turner Publishing Company. 206 pp. $39.95.

A set of almost 200 photographs are discussed in the context of Arizona history
History of the Friends of the San Pedro River
By Gerald R. Noonan. Friends of the San Pedro River. 77 pp. Index. .
The Friends of the San Pedro formed when local citizens pitched in to support the newly created San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area managed by the BLM in southeastern Arizona. This account covers the period from 1987-2007 and is a tribute to generous volunteers who donate time and money to public lands. Too often the histories of groups like this are lost, so this book is a valuable record. And, others intending to launch such friends groups will find it both cautionary and enlightening. []

Hummingbirds of Texas: With Their New Mexico and Arizona Ranges
By Clifford E. Shackelford. Texas A & M Univ Press. 112 pp. Index. $19.95.
It won’t fit comfortably into your pocket or backpack, but this large-format book provides excellent coverage in both photos and terrific color drawings of the 20 species of hummers that populate Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. There distribution maps for each species as well as a time chart to show months of residence. More than half the book is devoted to photos and texts that cover everything from behavior to feeding, from habitat to predators. Fine book.
Texas was awarded firs place in the title simply because the state could lay clam to regular visits to backyard feeders by 18 species of hummingbirds. Arizona and New Mexico were close seconds with 17 species observed and counted. Well writen and finely illustrated, this book should be in every car library, handy for travelers interested in these tiny, beautiful, and energetic birds. Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. is responsible for much of the material here wince it organized and encouraged a citizen-science backyard survey. The authors also discuss gardens that attract these little birds, the best of feeders, migratory behavior, and notes on identification along with spectacular photographs. To add to interest, each species is described in depth. A map shows location where birds are found along with a chart noting seasonal abundance. []

Husband Habit, The
By Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. St. Martin's Press. 384 pp. $24.99.

After falling for a series of married men, chef Vanessa Duran takes a vow of celebacy -- at least until she meets Paul, who's marital status keeps her guessing till the end.
By Paul Levine. Bantam Books. 367 pp. $22.00.

In My Father's House: a Memoir of Polygamy
By Dorothy Allred Solomon. Texas Tech University Press. 310 pp. $21.95.

An update of the author’s 1984 memoir of her experiences as the 28th of 48 children, growing up in a extended Mormon family with one father.
In the Heart of the Canyon
By Elisabeth Hyde. Alfred A. Knopf. 336 pp. $24.95.
Hyde combines novelist's sensibilities with an intimate knowledge of commercial river rafting in this compelling story of a disparate group of tourists thrown together on a two-week boat trip through the Grand Canyon. Life lessons abound as Hyde faithfully captures day-to-day experiences that work their transfomative magic in the majestic canyonlands. []
A Grand Canyon raft trip with focus on the three rowers, especially the lead, who must deal with large egos, red ant bites, and ultimately a pregnant teenager, so fat and unhappy that she does not know she is pregnant! []

In the Sun's House: My Year Teaching on the Navajo Reservation
By Kurt Caswell. Trinity University Press. 299 pp. $17.95.
Following a year of teaching in Japan, Kurt Caswell moved to the Navajo Nation, where he hired on at Borrego Pass School near Crownpoint, New Mexico. He soon discovered an ocean of difference between the Japanese culture and that of the Navajo.The author was not prepared for dealing with unruly Navajo students and didn't understand this bilagaana from a foreign country they knew nothing about. The students didn't like him and he responded angrily to their efforts. Gradually as the year moved on, he author wrote about his emotional growth as he began to deal with his own problems.One delightful sketch unfolds when Caswell decides that his Navajo students should become familiar with Romeo and Juliet by acting out the various scenes. []

Indian Alliances and the Spanish in the Southwest, 1750-1750
By William B. Carter. University of Oklahoma Press. 312 pp. Index. $34.95.
Here we have a very good overview of the peopling of the Southwest by Athapaskan and pueblo peoples. It covers the building and settlement of culture areas, ceremonies, alliances, and social and environmental changes long before the arrival of the Spanish and the missionaries. Included are the effects of Spanish occupation, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the departure and return of the Spanish. The book should be required reading for those beginning studies in Southewest history and culture. It should also be of interest for the general reader. []

Inland Fishes of the Greater Southwest: Chronicle of a Vanishing Biota
By Paul Marsh, W. L. Minckley. University of Arizona Press. 576 pp. Index. $75.00.
This large-format, handsome production updates and vastly expands Minckley’s 35-year old Fishes of Arizona by presenting in-depth accounts of nearly 170 fish species throughout the American Southwest and ranging down into northern Mexico. While the descriptions of habitats, behaviors, and biological aspects are the center of the book, it is perhaps more important in today’s world for its detailed discussion of the bad times ahead for these fish if we do not change our ways and stop destroying their environment. As Jim Deacon says in the foreword “This book makes it obvious that human-induced loss of biodiversity is not...restricted to tropical rain forests.
This remarkable life-long labor of love catalogues the native and non-native fishes of Arizona, Sonora, and selected drainages and gulf waters in neighboring states. Replete with a thorough bibliography and extensive citations, the book is meant for serious ichthyologists and fisheries specialists. The entries are detailed, with descriptions, discussions, and histories. Color plates or drawings of each species, distribution maps, and identification keys accent this major contribution to our knowledge of Southwest fishes. []

Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
By Will Bagley, David L. Bigler. Arthur H. Clark Co. 508 pp. Index. $45.00.
In September 1857, a handful of Paiutes and about 70 men of he Mormon Church disguised as Indians assaulted a peaceful group of Arkansans on their way to California. It became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In an attempt to search for motives for what some say was the most notorious crime in the southwest, the authors assembled hundreds of documents in an effort to provide evidence of what happened and why. In searching for motives and have suggested answers to the following: Was John Lee acting alone? Did Brigham Young order the atrocity? Did the emigrants provoke the Utah settlers? How and why did this come about since the crime was against Mormon beliefs. There is plenty of evidence here for the reader to ponder. []

Insects of Texas: A Practical Guide
By David Hugh Kattes. Texas A&M University Press. 215 pp. Index. $27.00.
This handy guide to insects is sure to lead to exclamations “Oh, so that’s what that bug is!” Stilt bugs, stink bugs, lady bugs, walkingsticks, springtails, harvestmen, tiger moths, robber flies, whirligig beetles, and ant lions: they and dozens of others are all here. We too seldom know, or remember, the names of our arthropod friends, and we are the poorer for it. This book, one of the excellent Texas A&M nature series, helps us identify insects to the family or genus level, which is as close as most of us need to get; only experts can tell most species apart. Now if it would only help me remember them. This is a handy dandy guide to all of Texas. []

Into the Beautiful North: a Novel
By Luis Alberto Urrea. Little, Brown and Company. 352 pp. $24.99.
In the village of Tres Camarones, somewhere near the southern border of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, 19-year old Nayeli suddenly realizes that all the men have “gone north” as her father did years before. Organizing a motley group composed of her two best female friends and an older, gay male chaperone, Nayeli leads her band just where the title says they should go: Into the Beautiful North. Funded by contributions from the village women, including the newly elected mayor, the first female to hold that position, they go in search of males to repopulate Tres Camarones, and Nayeli secretly wants to find that rascal, her father, who stopped sending money a long time back. A glorious piece of storytelling moved along by superb dialog. Urrea never misses a beat.
This novel is a farce comedy that will delight Southwest readers even though it does not take place in the Southwest. With flawless dialogue Urrea seamlessly tells the story of a merry band of Mexicans who venture to the United States to recruit seven retired Mexican cops or soldiers who will come to Sinaloa and save their village from narcos (banditos) in the style of The Magnificent Seven (or The Seven Samurai, one of whom magically appears in a Tijuana domp). Led by strong women, Nayeli Cervantes and Aunt Irma, mayor of her fishing village in Sinaloa, the characters are huggable and the plot predictable, but who cares. This romp reads as crisp as a stage play and deserves to become a movie. Along the way there are a few scares and many laughs about both cultures – movies, blonde actors, restaurants, NAFTA, Johnny Depp, immigration, apparel, and a junkyard “dawg” name Atómiko. If you’re looking for fun reading, this is the book. Let's hope a sequel is in the works. []

Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends
By Allen Barra. University of Nebraska Press. 426 pp. Index. $1995.
The popular concept of Wyatt Earp that we know and love is the stuff of legend, one that is continually reinterpreted in books, movies and television. Sifting through a large portion of all that material to try to sort fact from fiction, this provocative study is interesting not only for the historic picture that emerges, albeit murkily, but also for its insight into how legends are formed and how much of the popular stories of Wyatt Earp and his associates was the product of many imaginations. The is an updated paperback edition of the 1998 edition. Readers who enjoy this book might also be interested in this book, a previous Southwest Book of the Year: Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend, by Gary L. Roberts.

A reprint of the original 1998 title with a new introduction in which the author coments on facts and fallacies about Earp that have surfaced in the intervening years.
J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind
By Steven L. Davis. University of Texas Press. 284 pp. Index. $24.95.
The near-mythological stature of the great Texas folklorist (much of it his own making) has diminished in the half-century since his death. In this critical-but-admiring biography, Davis takes an honest measure of the man and his contributions to southwestern regionalism. The Dobie who emerges from these pages is by turns provincial, opinionated, occasionally bigoted, and ultimately a courageous and open-minded champion of intellectual freedom and progressive ideals. Academics and general readers will find much to admire in this book and its subject. []

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Cold War, and the Atomic West
By Jon Hunner. University of Oklahoma Press. 248 pp. Index. $24.95.

A biography of the famous atomic scientist that is the first to emphasize his connetions with the Southwest, how he was influenced by the region and his influences upon the region.
James Drake
By Jimmy Santiago Baca, James Drake, Steven Henry Madoff, Cormac McCarthy. University of Texas Press. 252 pp. $55.00.
Drake’s art, mostly photographs but usually modified, is somehow both familiar and peculiar. Although in no sense “border art” it does remind us at times of the U.S.-Mexico border and of other borders, both real and metaphysical.

Jedediah Smith: No Ordinary Mountain Man
By Barton H. Barbour. University of Oklahoma Press. 288 pp. Index. $26.95.
It is hard to believe that the adventures described in this book are true--they are not only the stuff of legends but surely would provide an exciting story that would delight producers looking for something new. And they would not have to addd material to improve the story--Jedediah Smith's life is something out of this world. He had guts. he was determined. His three expeditions covered unexplored areas of the west between 1826 and 1831 when the young trapper was killed by Indians. Up to that time, he had survived long treks without food or water, battles with Indians, upset keep boats, gad weather, and a ferocious attack by a bear. The question to ponder is, "What kept him going back for more?" []
Jedediah Smith ranks with Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett before him, and Kit Carson after, as a seminal figure in the exploration of new lands and America’s expansion to the West. A leader of the fabled mountain men, he traveled all over the West, overcoming extraordinary hardships and dangers, and was one of the first to document and tell about it. In particular, he was the first to discover and map the key route that later became known as the Oregon Trail. He was also the first American to reach California overland, rather than by sea. While Lewis and Clark were the first to go overland to the West coast, Jedediah Smith was the one who filled in the map. Using newly discovered journals, documents and other material, this fascinating biography not only describes the life and times of a remarkable man at a key time in our history, it also offers striking insight into how the difficulties arose among Americans, Indians, Mexicans and Europeans in the West, which remain with us today. While written as a history, this fascinating book reads like an adventure story, as indeed it is. Readers who enjoy this book might also be interested in these books, both previous Southwest Books of the Year: Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West, by Hampton Sides; and
Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride, by Michael Wallis. []

John MacKay: Silver King in the Gilded Age
By Michael J. Makley. . .
The financial shenanigans of the 21st century appear to be nothing new compared to the 19th century when men made and lost fortunes. One immigrant Irishman, John Mackay, rose to the top as one of the wealthiest and respected men in the world as an important business leader in the Gilded age. At first linked to the Comstock Lode and development of the Big Bonanza in Nevada, he founded the Bank of Nevada, and was responsible for laying the cable between the U.S. and the Pacific countries. He fought against financial monopoly and stood up to Jay Gould and his Western Union. Gutzon Borglum sculped the statue of Mackay that stands before he Mackay School of Mines on the University of Nevada campus. []

Journey of Dreams
By Marge Pellegrino. Frances Lincoln Childrens Books. 250 pp. $15.95.
Top Pick
Among the catalysts to a lifelong love of reading, being fortunate enough to experience a really good book when you're young is high on the list. Journey of Dreams is a really good book. It’s the story of 13-year-old Tomasa and her family, their tradition-rich lives in the Guatamalan highlands, and their community. It’s also the story of what can happen to a family, to a community, when a government turns on its own people, as Guatamala’s did in the 1980’s. Faced with extermination, Tomasa’s family undertake a perilous journey away from their home and north to an uncertain future. Along the way, they endure horrific experiences and devastating set backs. They also meet true heroes – ordinary, brave individuals willing to help despite personal risk. The details of the journey make this a gripping story. Marge Pellegrino’s expressive, poetic writing makes it art. What an amazing tool language is in the hands of a gifted writer! Journey of Dreams accurately relates a tragic episode of history, and makes it accessible to readers of all ages. Without sentimentality, it teaches that hope, love, and generosity can withstand evil. Fortunately, it accomplishes this in sublime language that can only encourage readers to read more, in hopes of finding another such book. []

During the 1980's Guatemalan genocide, 13-year-old Tomasa and her family flee north in search of safety and a new home in America.
Juan and the Jackalope: a Children's Book in Verse
By Rudolfo A. Anaya, Amy Córdova. University of New Mexico Press. 32 pp. $18.95.

Hopeful of winning the hand of the lovely Rosita, Juan enters the Great Grasshopper Race riding a Jackalope.
Just Coffee: Caffeine with a Conscience
By Mark S. Adams, Tommy Bassett. Just Trade Center. 128 pp. $20.00.
Rising from an idea in 1999 to the opening of a store/shop in Agua Prieta (the Sonoran town just south of Douglas, Arizona) Café Justo/Just Coffee is a success story where cooperation counts. Faith-based and supported by religious organizations from its beginning, Just Coffee sold more than 46,000 pounds of organically grown coffee beans in 2007, nearly four times the amount in its first year, 2003. Good color photos and clean text tell the story. []

Chronicles the founding of the Cafe Justo Salvador Urbina Cooperative and its efforts to promote fair trade.
Land Arts of the American West
By Bill Gilbert, Chris Taylor. University of Texas Press. 422 pp. Index. $60.00.
Here is a rather unusual book coming out of the College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico in collaboration with the University of Texas, Austin. The field program operating between 2003 and 2006, involved some 14 students working in various areas in the southwest. Art could be wherever the found it such as the form of an old building, drawings in the sand, creations involving dried brush, garbage, petroglyphs, pueblo ruins -- the choice is endless. Each site was labeled with elevation, ecological niche, ownershi8p, and location and each was acco9mpanied by a written history and impression by one or more of the students. There is definitely an ecological focus as each work should not harm the environment. []
Mix the mythic Old West, add the New West, and then take dozens of creative college artists on field trips to explore and interpret the West in a wide range of images and media. The students – painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed-media specialists --roam through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and Chihuahua. They tackle the concepts of place, mapping, space and artifacts as “zones of inquiry” and then create interactive, multi-sensory art at famous sites such as the Spiral Jetty and the Grand Canyon. In an unusual mix of reports, photos, snippets, near-poetic essays, and interviews, the results are at times surreal, quirky, insightful, funny, somber, and puzzling, but above fresh. The pictures are moments, and the experience of a place changes by the moment (page 150). Put another way, art is where you find it and what you literally make of it. This refreshing book may widen your imagination, or at least your field of view. []

Land of Black Volcanoes and White Sands: The Pinacate and Gran Desierto De Altar Biosphere Reserve
By Clark Blake, Larry G. Marshall. Environmental Education Exchange. .
Sonora’s Pinacate Biosphere Reserve is one of the wonders of the natural world. Vast lava flows, many craters including several magnificent maars, moving sand dunes, fascinating cactus, and a long archaeological history make it a “must-see” for desert rats. It has long deserved it own guidebook on a par with those available for US national parks. This is it. With full-color photos and crisp text, readers can appreciate the lure of the Pinacate. We hope to see a Spanish-language edition soon. []
This is one of the least hospitable places in North America, a land devastated by the molten fury of volcanoes, blanketed by vast spreading dunes, blasted by wind blown sand, and scorched by a fiery sun through a sky in which clouds are rare, transient visitors that do not tarry. This is real desert, bone-dry and desolate, where life itself is generally fleeing or fleeting. Its otherworldly nature has been attested by the Apollo 14 astronauts, who trained there for the moon, and by other astronauts in orbit as one of the most prominent land features of the region as seen from space. This well-illustrated book is a nice introduction to the area, now a 2760 square mile U.N. Biosphere Reserve.

Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also be interested in these:
* Sunshot : Peril and Wonder in the Gran Desierto, by Bill Broyles (a recent Southwest Book of the Year);
* The Sierra Pinacate, by Julian D. Hayden;
* Desert Heart: Chronicles of the Sonoran Desert, by William K. Hartmann.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster: a Novel
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Cinco Puntos Press. 239 pp. $16.95.
Top Pick
Zach believes that God must have written, "sad" on his heart at birth. Sadness, nurtured by alcholic, clinically-depressed parents and a psychotic, abusive brother, is all he's known. At age 18, Zach is bright, sensitive, and and addicted. When tragedy strikes and Zach finds himself in rehab with a case of amnesia, it's a torturous climb back to memory, acknowlegement, and life. Benjamin Lire Saenz has written a deeply moving, poetic story of a damanged young man, so worth saving, and the people around him who support the effort. []

A troubled teen tries to work through family tragedy.
Last Reader, The
By David Toscana, Asa Zatz. Texas Tech University Press. 192 pp. $26.95.
Top Pick
Avoiding the now passe designation “magical realism” Toscana refers to his work as realismo desquiciado, which translates roughly as “unrestrained realism” but which means literally “unhinged realism”. In a very small northern Mexican village no rain has fallen in such a long time that all the wells are dry; all save one and in it the owner, Remigio, discovers one morning the body of a young girl. He thinks he will be blamed. Desperate, he turns to his father, Lucio, for advice. Lucio is the village librarian, a job for which he is no longer paid as there are no readers left in the village except himself. Filled with references to both classical and contemporary literature, Toscana’s spins out a tale that is simultaneously real and unhinged; a veritable tour de force. []

Last Refuge of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel, The: Ecology of Endangerment
By John L. Koprowski, H. Reed Sanderson. University of Arizona Press. 427 pp. Index. $85.00.
The upper slopes of the Pinaleno Mountains in southeastern Arizona are home to an endangered species of squirrel that has been the topic of much debate and study. Here is the latest research by an all-star cast, and it is informative and important. The book is divided into six parts: the mountain, management of squirrels, population trends, squirrel habitat, squirrel ecology and behavior, and the risks the squirrels face. An array of charts, maps, and photos help readers grasp the enormity of the problem. The squirrel is one species in the limelight, but its fate will foreshadow the future of our mountains, their wildlife, and us. []

Law Into Their Own Hands, The
By Roxanne Lynn Doty. University of Arizona Press. 176 pp. $50 hardcover, $19.95 paper.
I would agree that border security and illegal immigration along the Arizona-Mexico border has been one of the hot topics under discussion in the past few years. Author, Doty, has interviewed and discussed border vigilante groups that consist of an interesting assortment of individuals from the anti-immigrant movement, white/supremacists/nativist groups, and the Christian Right. she notes that publicity was the key to the success of the various movements and details the coveraqe they have received on television, radio, talk radio, the Internet, and published books. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's efforts in rounding up undocumented aliens is discussed along with how it has affected Hispanic citizens in Arizona. This is an important contribution to the literature in the field. []

Laws of Harmony, The
By Judith Ryan Hendricks. Harpercollins. 478 pp. $14.95.
When she learns of her husband’s death, burned beyond recognition in an auto accident, Sunny (real name Soleil) Cooper is thrust into a search through her past. She grew up in a northern New Mexico commune, Armonia, but her search leads from her home in Albuquerque to yet another Harmony, a town on San Miguel Island off the coast of Southern California. Hendricks writes smoothly creating a page-turner with lots of well-drawn characters. []

Liars Anonymous
By Louise Ure. Minotaur Books. 275 pp. $25.95.
Ure takes her place in the front rank of mystery writers with this intricately plotted story of truth, lies, guilt, and absolution set in Tucson. While investigating a murder she overhears while working as a telephone operator for an automobile navigation service, Jessie Dancing uncovers a child-kidnapping ring and, at the same time, confronts the deceits lurking in her own past. In Dancing, Ure has created one of the genre's memorable flawed and conflicted heroines. []

Life on the Rocks: One Woman's Adventures in Petroglyph Preservation
By Katherine Wells. University of New Mexico Press. 211 pp. $21.95.
Sometimes you sit down with a book and one page leads to the next until you’ve spent the whole afternoon listening to a gentle story well told. In this one a lady leaves California, moves to northern New Mexico, and helps save the new neighborhood. Along the way she discovers a chunk of land with Native American petroglyphs, builds a house, finds love, and wraps herself in the local community and its fascinating history. She even reforms the villain to some extent. Fun, touching, inspiring. []

Lipan Apaches, The: People of Wind and Lightning
By Thomas A. Britten. University of New Mexico Press. 336 pp. Index. $34.95.
Here is a thoroughly researched history of a Texas tribe long considered a threat to the development of New Spain's northern frontier. They faced enormous pressures and ultimately forced removal caused them to join the Mescalero and Kiowa Apache, thus fading from history. The book is minutely researched with a fine bibliography. It is however, not for the casual reader. Students and scholars of Native history will no doubt welcome its addition to their libraries. []

Literary El Paso
By Marcia Daudistel. TCU Press. 572 pp. Index. $29.50.
If you think El Paso, TX, is just chile peppers, cowboy boots and border-crossers, this fine fat book will remind you of some terrific writers who call, or have called, it home. Names like Tom Lea, Carl Hertzog, C. L. Sonnichsen, Leon Metz, Dagoberto Gilb, Denise Chavez, and Elroy Bode are represented by about 120 short pieces.


Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide
By Lawrence C. Jones, Robert E. Lovich. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 567 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
This book calls for a technical reviewers term: Wow! Pulling together photos, data, etc. from 77 experts (let’s call them lizardologists), Jones and Lovich provide detailed coverage of the 96 species so far identified within the six southwestern states, plus Texas west of the Pecos River. Color coded distribution maps show that many species range far outside these boundaries, especially into Baja and other northern Mexican states. For each species there are sections of text with headings for description, similar species, habitats, natural history, range, viewing tips and other information. Certain to be a standard guide for many, many years to come.
There’s something endearing about lizards. Maybe it’s that we can watch them fairly close-up, or that they seem preposterously agile climbing walls and jumping for insects. Whatever it is, we love’em, and so do the 77 enthusiastic experts who wrote Lizards of the Southwest. It is a grand guidebook, complete with excellent photos of the 96 native species found west of the Pecos, detailed information on each one, and insight into their ecological niches. Special features include-easy-to-use checklists and a thumbnail pictorial guide to families and genera. The book is authoritative (think handbook of the latest scientific names and research), but it also will be quite readable and helpful for a wide general audience including curious youth. It will be a standard reference for years to come, but moreover it is an impressive appreciation for our sunny weather friends. []

Lone Star Wildflowers: a Guide to Texas Flowering Plants
By Willa F. Finley, LaShara J. Nieland. Texas Tech University Press. 321 pp. Index. $29.95.
This flower guide covers the wide state of Texas, not just the Southwest, and it does so with flair. In addition to organizing flowers by color and providing excellent color photos, it adds “bonus” pictures to the ends of each section and the text occasionally provides some unusual information on plant biology and uses. Even if you’re a veteran reader of plant guides, you’ll find something new or refreshing in this one. It’s well worth buying. The only “oops” I noticed was confusing the preservative qualities of petroleum creosote with the medicinal qualities of the plant creosote. []

Lost Boy
By Brent W. Jeffs, Maia Szalavitz. Broadway Books. 241 pp. $24.95.

A memoir of a nephew of the leader of a modern Mormon polygamous sect telling his experiences growing up in that community.
Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of the Southwest
By David Hatcher Childress. Adventures Unlimited Press. 576 pp. $19.95.

Man travels and collects tales.
Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Arizona
By W. C. Jameson. University of New Mexico Press. 200 pp. $23.95.
Jameson offers a potpourri of thirty-one treasure tales covering the length and breadth of the Grand Canyon State. Regardless of whether you accept the author's claim that all are true, his retelling of the stories behind the legends provide entertaining reading. Avid treasure hunters will certainly be disappointed in the quality of the accompanying maps - but therein lies the mystery, and the fun. []
Said to be the best-selling treasure author in the world, author of some sixty books, and one who believes Billy the Kid lived to his eighties, Jameson has created another tome of legends of lost mines. He admits that many of his "facts" come from oral histories and handed down legends. These, he says, he has tried to authenticate. No sources are listed and there is no index. As one might expect, it is well-written and will be enjoyed by a general reader looking for adventure and not citations. []

Man Corn Murders
By Lou Allin. Five Star. 273 pp. $25.95.
A writer and her much more adventuresome aunt are on a hot vacation in the Southern Utah-Northern Arizona red rock country when they stumble upon a body. What does an investigative reporter do then? The large number of errors make such a distraction that following the story is difficult/impossible. For example “Big Sky country” (note the capitals) is Wyoming not southern Utah, there are no such things as “treacherous z-shaped arroyos” (you can imagine what a roaring gully-washer would do to a Z-shape), and Mesa Verde would hardly have become a “pile of dust” by now if not discovered by pot-hunters more than 100 years ago. []

María of Ágreda: Mystical Lady in Blue
By Marilyn H. Fedewa. University of New Mexico Press. 355 pp. Index. $39.95.

News of María of Ágreda's exceptional attributes spread beyond her cloistered convent in seventeenth-century Ágreda (Spain. In America, reports emerged that she had miraculously appeared to Jumano Native Americans--a feat corroborated by witnesses in Spain, Texas, and New Mexico, where she is honored today as the legendary "Lady in Blue." María was lauded in Spain as one of the most influential women in its history, and in the United States as an inspiring pioneer, and Fedewa has assembled a stunning biography of this remarkable woman.
Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry
By Nancy Schiffer. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 256 pp. Index. $50.00.
This book offers dramatic proof that Indian jewelry has reached new heights of excellence. The beautiful work of sixty top artists is presented in 250 pages of lavish photographs. Although all regions of the U.S. are represented, the Southwest clearly dominates the field. Those interested in jewelry and Indian art won’t want to miss this one. []

Me and the Biospheres: a Memoir by the Inventor of Biosphere 2
By John Allen. Synergetic Press. 336 pp. $39.95.

A behind-the-scenes memoir of the development of the most ambitious environmental experiment ever, with the creator of this miniature Earth under glass.
Mexican Jewelry & Metal Art
By Leslie A. Pina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub.. 287 pp. Index. $$89.99.

A beautiful coffee table book illustrating modern Mexican jewelry and other metal art work.
Michael Lundgren: Transfigurations
By Rebecca Solnit, Michael Lundgren. Radius Books. 64 pp. $31.50.
For those of you who think that desert photography begins and ends with colorful Arizona Highways magazine, take a look at Michael Lundgren’s Transfigurations. You’ll see the desert in many moods and times of day, from noon to midnight. His stunning and sometimes puzzling images try and succeed in expanding our awareness. The text by Rebecca Solnit seamlessly expresses the images: “If you come here seeking something particular you may find only it. Or find nothing. But if you come seeking the desert it will be given to you in time, if you take care not to get so irrevocably lost that you too become bones out here, but lost enough to find what you did not know you were looking for.” In a section called “Skylighting,” William Jenkins explains that “these pictures serve to define the boundaries of desert experience.” The book is short but intense, and well worth your visit. The title, "Michael Lundgren, Transfigurations," may be arty but it's also confusing, for most readers will think of it as "Transfigurations" by Michael Lundgren. We missed a related 2007 book by Mark Klett (Saguaros, Radius Books, Santa Fe). With its thoughtful text by Greg McNamee, Saguaros too brings us indelible images to chew and words to mull. After reading Transfigurations and Saguaros, you may find more power and insight in a black and white world at least part of the time. Michael Berman is part of this group, too, and in 2006 we reviewed and raved about his photos in Charles Bowden’s Inferno; see Bowden's Trinity (2009, reviewed elsewhere on the SWBOY list) for more of Berman's intense photos. And hidden among the internet offerings of you’ll find two stunning and beautiful treasures by Richard Laugharn: 21 Visits to the Sykes Crater Saguaro (2007) and Following Desert Plants (2008). These originals, along with inviting color offerings by greats such as Jack Dykinga (for example, Images: Jack Dykinga’s Grand Canyon, 2008), indicate the pulse of Southwest desert photography is healthier than ever. []

Model Interstate Water Compact
By Jerome C. Muys, Marilyn C. O'Leary, George William Sherk. University of New Mexico Press. 528 pp. Index. Sponsored by the Utton Transboundary Resources Center, University of New Mexico School of Law. $75.00.
Not specific to the Southwest, this important volume is the product of a multi-year study and two national conferences held by the Utton Center at the University of New Mexico. The introduction notes that there are at least 26 interstate water agreements, most of them in the arid West. The book provides, in eleven parts with such titles as “Interstate Water Apportionments”, a formal approach to interstate water agreements. Each proposed segment is followed by detailed commentary. Not easy reading, of course, but a very important book concerning the future of our limited water resources. []

Mojave Desert, The: Ecosystem Processes and Sustainability
By Robert H. Webb. University of Nevada Press. 481 pp. Index. $65.00.
The Mojave Desert is not only beautiful but fascinating. Behind the beauty are complex processes of climate, geology, biology, and ecology that are still being explained. This volume provides 19 chapters by experts who ask the questions and dig for answers that will help us better understand and appreciate this desert region. All of the chapters are interesting, but especially inviting are ones on global climate change, resources and sustainability, desert root systems, and restoration. It is required and invigorating reading for anyone studying the natural history – or natural future -- of the Mojave. []

Essays by 38 scientists about key issues in Mojave Desert ecology and land management.
Mormon Convert, Mormon Defector: a Scottish Immigrant in the American West, 1848-1861
By Polly Aird. Arthur H. Clark Co.. 320 pp. Index. $39.95.

Chronicles the grueling journey of Mormon Scottish immigrants braving the transcontinental journey to join their brethren in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and the travails they endured to reach there.
Murder for Hire: My Life as the Country's Most Successful Undercover Agent
By , Jack Ballentine. Thomas Dunne Books. 300 pp. Index. $25.95.

The author describes his life as an undercover operative for the Phoenix Police Department.
Naked Rainbow and Other Stories, The = El Arco Iris Desnudo y Otros Cuentos
By Nasario García. University of New Mexico Press. 242 pp. $18.95.
Top Pick
The author's childhood village of Ojo del Padre (modern Guadalupe) in the Rio Puerco Vally southeast of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, provides the inspiration for these stories about the common folk in the tiny town. Whether it is the group of variously disabled men who meet regularly to curse their condition, or the village women who created their own method for permanently ridding the village of a cheating peddler, or the constantly maligned three-breasted woman who lived happily ever after, there is something to be learned about the human condition. Sometimes serious, often funny, perhaps even bawdy, the vignettes are a delight to read. The stories are also repeated in Spanish, an added incentive for those interested. []
Garcia writes these simple tales in Spanish then translates them himself, which means, of course, that he is free to translate them to suit himself. However, he provides both a glossary and a section of idiomatic words and phrases with his translations for those of his readers, like me, whose ability to understand is based in only one of the two languages. The characters who populate these stories are the common folk of central New Mexico; earthy, uneducated, simple, sometimes greedy, and almost always wise. Their stories are often funny and always to the point.

Collection of stories set in New Mexico's Rio Puerco Valley, presented in English and Spanish.
Nation's Highest Honor, The
By James Gaitis. Kunati Inc. Book Publishers. 249 pp. $22.95.

Satirical chronicle of everyman, Leonard Brentwood, confronting the whims of a dysfunctional society.
Navajo Folk Art
By Chuck Rosenak, Jan Rosenak. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 168 pp. Index. $18.95.
Loaded with color photos of the artists and their work, this third edition of the book first published 15 years ago updates some biographical information and includes artists not previously covered. Divided into eastern, central, and western portions of the Navajo Reservation, the excellent text provides both general information and detailed descriptions.
Navajo folk art has become a saleable commodity as never before. Moreover, it has found its way to museums and galleries that have in the past sold only the best of pottery, rugs, paintings, and jewellry. Individual artists and their work have contributed a new art form, sometimes whimsical, always delightful. Here creativity knows no bounds. Johnson Antonio's carved dolls show distinct personalities, while Delbert Buck can always find something for his cowboys to ride whether it be rabbits or bulls. Here are chickens, weavings, beaded figures, pots, and furry goats. Nicely published []

Neighbors of Casas Grandes, The: Excavating Medio Period Communities of Northwest Chihuahua, Mexico
By Paul E. Minnis, Michael E. Whalen. University of Arizona Press. 295 pp. Index. $60.00.
The Casas Grandes archaeological site of northern Chihuahua is one of the most interesting in North America. This technical book details the role of neighboring communities during the period of A.D 1220-1450. The book poses questions about the region, introduces the sites that may answer the questions, and then offers answers. Required reading for advanced scholars. []

New Deal for Native Art, A: Indian Arts and Federal Policy, 1933-1943
By Jennifer McLerran. University of Arizona Press. 299 pp. Index. $59.95.
It is not difficult to find museums and galleries illed to the brim with American Indian arts and crafts. These are also available from reservation trading posts and Indian markets, which pop up at regular intervals all over the country. The indigenous productions include pottery, massive sculpture, jewelry, carvings from wood, and whatever treasures the imagination can produce. Add folk art which is fast becoming a collector's item. It was not always this way. The Great Depression affected the Indian tribes along with the rest of the country.The New Deal for Indian Policy sought ways to improve the market for Indian art with Civilian Conservatiion Cotrps projects,cooperatives, and more. John Collier was one who was actively involved in numerous projects. More importantly, the Santa Fe Indian school encouraged Native art, a change from earlier Indian policy. []

New Mexico Colcha Club: Spanish Colonial Embroidery & the Women Who Saved It
By Nancy C. Benson. Museum of New Mexico Press. 168 pp. Index. $23.50.
Top Pick
The word colcha refers to a particular stitch in sewing but is often applied to finished products such as bedspreads and coverlets decorate with it. Benson describes its evolution in the New World, and particularly in the Southwest where it arrived with immigrants from farther south in Mexico. In addition to showing designs in excellent color photos she provides details of the lives of women in north central New Mexico, around Espanola, whom she credits with keeping the colcha tradition alive.
It is safe to say that there has never been one morning that I awoke thinking about embroidery, certainly not “colcha”-style which is a long, couching stitch typically used on bedspreads. But this book certainly merits eye-opening attention on any of several levels: its perfect photos of altar cloths, clothes, quilts, rugs, including revealing details; its well-told blending of history and domestic life; its knockout design that features a fine mix of color, font, and layout; its heartwarming stories about the New Mexico women who kept this tradition alive for the past four centuries; or its pure passion for the craft. It is a superb, cheersome book, and interesting also in that it is a softcover book with a jacket. []

New River Blues
By Elizabeth Gunn. Severn House Publishers Ltd.. 214 pp. $28.95.

Police Detective Sarah Burke must solve a double-murder in an exclusive Tucson neighborhood, while her niece, mother, and boyfriend all become house guests.
No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels
By Jay Dobyns. Crown. 328 pp. $25.95.
Top Pick
ATF agent, and former UA football player, Dobyns recounts in suspenseful detail his two-year assignment infiltrating the notoriously secretive Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Arizona. Dobyns' ability to portray his targets as flesh-and-blood human beings (some of whose traits he admires) and the edgy description of his own descent into the shadow world of drugs and casual violence open a revealing window on law enforcement's war on outlaw motorcycle gangs and elevate his story above run-of-the-mill true crime memoirs. []
You’re riding your chopper motorcycle in tight formation with the Hells Angels at 90 miles an hour down a Phoenix freeway at night. Your front wheel is a foot from the bike in front and you are about to die. You are Jay Dobyns, ex-football player, aka Bird Davis, undercover cop for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco, and you’ve infiltrated the baddest outlaw motorcycle gang on the planet. Now that you’re in, how do you get out? And how do you ever return from your biker persona to your old self? How do you salvage your family and sanity? Fiction? No bro, true story. Most of the action takes place in Arizona, with big scenes in Nevada, California, and Mexico. Meeting the characters, especially Big Lou, is worth the trip – none of them is totally evil nor totally good, even Dobyns, but all are dangerous. Ignore this tight, vivid narrative at your own risk. []

Observatories of the Southwest: A Guide for Curious Skywatchers
By Douglas Isbell, Stephen E. Strom. University of Arizona Press. 192 pp. Index. $21.95.

Eight grand observatories span the Southwest and can be visited by amateur astronomers and the public with the help of this very handy guidebook.
Odes to Anger
By Jason L. Yurcic. West End Press. 57 pp. $11.95.
Want to know what the young men down on the corner are feeling? These brawling poems by an angry young man explore their pain in its many faces. Topics range from his daughter to the department of corrections to self-analysis to jobs. The author strives to learn to accept himself, and we each know readers could find some self-revelation in these honest pages. In poem 4 of the section “Walking into my mind,” Yurcic writes “I just traded poetry/ My poetry/ For a bottle of Gatorade/ On a hundred-degree day/ How beautiful is that.” Indeed. []

Oh Ednacita!
By Edna Ortega, Sharon R. Takerer. E T Nedder Pub. $10.00.

Ednacita learns to cook from her talented Abuela and Tia, and becomes known for her own wonderful way with food.
Once Around the Block = Una Vuelta a la Manzana
By José Lozano. Cinco Puntos Press. $16.95.

This is a bilingual (English/Spanish), alliterative (English), alphabet book.
One True Theory of Love
By Laura Fitzgerald. New American Library. 344 pp. $14.00.
Meg Clark, the single mother of a precocious nine-year-old, has every reason to believe that "men are idiots" until she falls head-over-heels for Tucson's handsome assistant manager. The reappearance of her long-gone ex-husband and revelations about her father test Meg's "hokey-pokey" theory of giving your all in life, but love wins out. Fitzgerald knows her subject matter and her audience. This well-crafted sophomore effort, after "Veil of Roses," should win her new fans. Tucsonans will particularly enjoy her spot-on descriptions of the Sam Hughes and University neighborhoods. []

Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish
By Martin Santiago, Quirino Santiago, Cynthia Weill. Cinco Puntos Press. $14.95.
Top Pick
Delightful jacaranda-wood carvings by Quirino and Mártin Santiago guide us on an exploration of opposites in this charming bilingual book. “Asleep, Dormido, Awake Despierto…” the meaning of its simple text is augmented by engaging, often comic, animal forms. The Santiago’s carvings convey much more than a sense of opposites; exuding such personality and character that children and their adults will also have the opportunity to explore such concepts as silly, sly, alert, scary, and … art. []

Wood sculptures from Oaxaca, Mexico illustrate this bilingual book of opposites.
Other Men's Horses
By Elmer Kelton. Forge. 272 pp. $24.99.
A young Texas Ranger learns a lot about frontier justice, and domestic relations, as he follows a beautiful woman across West Texas in search of her fugitive husband. Kelton passed away earlier this year. This well-crafted frontier saga, with its honestly drawn characters and gentle wisdom, reminds us why he will be missed. []

The greatest Western writer of all time sends Texas Ranger Andy Pickard to solve an anything-but-routine case of horse thieving in West Texas.
Outdoor Spaces in the Southwest
By Damon Lang, Darlene Claire Preussner. Schiffer Publishing. 160 pp. $39.99.
Landscape designer Lang shares his promotional vision of how to fill barren residential space with backyards with opulent swimming pools, expensive eye-candy, elaborate lawnscapes, and mega-BBQs tended by a hired chef. If you feel at home in Las Vegas, you’ll understand Lang’s concepts. OMG. Many of us would settle for human faces or a fresh breeze, birdsongs or a starry sky. []

Paleontology of New Mexico, The
By Barry S. Kues. University of New Mexico Press. 432 pp. Index. $45.00.
If you like fossils, really like fossils, then this is the book for you. Organized by epochs, it is wealth of information about ancient species, how they evolved, and where to find them in New Mexico. It is both a primer on fossil collecting and a catalogue of known species, which may give impetus to collectors to unearth new finds. It is a rich introduction to the state’s fascinating geology and diverse species through time. It is written for advanced amateurs, but it’s accessible to anyone willing to read deeply. For example, one discussion notes that the study of fossils has strongly helped our understanding of plate tectonics, past environments and climates, the evolution of life, the geologic time scale, and history of the earth. The author’s love of fossils shines through the precise, expert prose. []

Pistols, Petticoats, & Poker: the Real Lottie Denos-- No Lies or Alibis
By Jan Devereaux. High-Lonesome Books. 277 pp. Index. $25.00.
Deno’s story (she was a “lady of the night” in Texas and New Mexico at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries before marrying well and becoming a proper lady) has been told a number of times, but Devereaux retells the story with careful attention to facts. She documents the truth and investigates and dismisses myths. []

Poetry of Remembrance, A: New and Rejected Works
By Levi Romero. University of New Mexico Press. 159 pp. $21.95.
Top Pick
Sometimes serious, sometimes humorous Romero’s “works” [sly humor in the subtitle; all the works are poetry and normally one says “new and SELECTED...”–did your eye skip that one?]. Wonderful, creative images are sprinkled throughout along with the humor; for example these lines from “Simple Math”: “I don’t know what today will bring tomorrow...what it may add or is a process of trial and error and I’m known to leave a path like eraser grains on paper...”
Too many poets write to become something they are not; Levi Romero writes to be someone he is. And his poems are wonderful. Dragon flies, low rider cars, grandmothers, and adobe homes appear with ease and depth. This book is exceptionally comfortable and satisfying, even if you don’t read the bits of Spanish or know the particular geography of New Mexico. His images flow easily, such as “along the walking trail/ of the west rim/ the shadows of our noses/ fall into coyote paw prints/ etched into the damp soil’ (p. 66). His ‘High School English” is universal in its moods and insight into adolescence. His “Dance of the Hollyhock” welds reader with poet in its lines “as we move on, knowing that the palm heat of plenty/ at times burns with the cold hand of not enough” (p. 104). One especially touching poem, “El vientinueve de agosto,” is a tribute to mothers, and includes the lines “and the stories are spoken/ as if they matter.” Romero’s poems matter. []

Power of the Texas Governor, The: Connally to Bush
By Brian McCall. University of Texas Press. 172 pp. Index. $24.95.
According to the author, the Texas governor's office is fairly weak since gubernatorial powers are not specifically enumerated. The governor can however, take advantage of the fact that the legislators' jobs are part-time and the mere threat of calling a special session is one way to get goals passed. More importantly, personality and highly developed social skills are necessary in order to build relationships and get things done. George W. Bush, and Ann Richards are two who were most successful in this area. They are contrasted with the terms of John Connally, Preston Smith, Dolph Briscoe, William Clements, and Marc Smith, each of whom had his own personality problems in dealing with the legislature. []

Power's Garden: A Novel
By Dianne Ebertt Beeaff. Five Star Publications. 256 pp. $15.95.

Follow the relationship of two southeastern Arizona families—one Texan, one Mormon—whose cultures collide during the early 1900’s, as severe drought grips the Gila Valley Desert.
Power, Passion, and Prejudice: Shootout in the Galiuro Mountains
By Barbara Brooks Wolfe. Imago Press. 167 pp. Index. $12.95.
In 1917 a shootout between a county sheriff’s posse and a family of miners provided a perennial mystery story that still fuels conjecture as family descendents try to defend or accuse the participants. This Arizona saga drew author Wolfe to offer what she heard over the years and found in archives. She does offer some new information, but few citations. []

Price of Sanctuary, The
By Gaylon E. Greer. Medallion Press. 316 pp. $27.95.
Faced with a manslaughter charge Shelby Le Cervoisier cuts a deal with a secret government department then finds herself the target when her corrupt boss wants her dead. Greer sets this chase-thriller partly in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Flagstaff, Arizona, but locale is unimportant when the contract killer sent to get rid of her cannot do the job and instead begins helping her and her much younger sister avoid yet another contract killer. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. []

Private Women, Public Lives: Gender and the Missions of the Californias
By Bárbara Reyes. University of Texas Press. 246 pp. Index. $50.00.
The author presents the translations of testimonios of three California women during the mission period in California: the head housekeeper for Mission San Gabriel;an Indian woman accused of conspiring to murder; and a request by the first lady of California for a divorce. Here is a very interesting study of gender relations in Colonial California. A fine addition to gender and women's studies. []

Putrefaction Live
By Warren Perkins. University of New Mexico Press. 253 pp. $21.95.
Half Navajo, his father is an Anglo, James is not sure of anything, a classic case of “maybe I’ll grow up tomorrow”. In his late twenties and drifting between Flagstaff and the deserted ranch his parents own on the Navajo Reservation, he finds two things to care about: his neighbor (a woman with two young children and a mean s.o.b. husband) and “his” loud as thunder and ultimately profane four piece band, Putrefaction. []

Rain Gods
By James Lee Burke. Simon & Schuster. 448 pp. $25.99.
Top Pick
Burke, author of the popular Dave Robicheaux mysteries set in the bayou country of southwestern Louisiana, has produced a haunting masterwork in this complex morality tale played out in the bleak southwest Texas borderland. The discovery of the bodies of nine Asian prostitutes buried in a mass grave sends aging sheriff Hackberry Holland on a quest for the killers and an endangered witness to the crime. The hunt resurrects demons from Holland's own past. In Burke's world, good and bad dissolve into shades of gray, as flawed human beings struggle to do the right thing. If that weren't enough, in Preacher Jack Collins, a god-fearing killing machine, Burke has created one of modern fiction's most intriguing and memorable villains. []
(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. []

Ranch Gates of the Southwest
By Kenneth I. Helphand, Daniel M. Olsen, Henk Van Assen. Trinity University Press. 139 pp. $45.00.
More than 200 well-framed color photos display just what the title suggests, and the range of possibilities is astonishing! Simple, but elegant, maps show locations which are, as we might expect, often on state and county roads from South Texas to southeastern Nevada. The gates themselves are not always gates but rather signs along a fence line and they range from the quirky (a spur large enough for a truck to pass through with its rowel in the air) to the cute (two quail on a post holding a mailbox) and on to the somewhat pretentious (massive white cement columns). Helphand’s text does not attempt descriptions. Rather it tackles the subject in mini-essays with titles such as “Origins”, “Language in the Landscape” and “Branding and Type Design.” Altogether a fascinating glimpse of a piece of Americana that we’ve all seen but probably ignored.

Ranfla and Other New Mexico Stories
By Martha Egan. University Of New Mexico Press. 202 pp. $24.95.
No literary pyrotechnics here; Egan writes some down-home (maybe down-casa would be better) stories, usually with a woman as the central figure. Mary Louise bags her doctoral studies in Berkeley to pursue a man who is a great lover but lives in New Mexico; Grandma Guenther fascinates her granddaughter with tales of the olden days then lets her teach the old lady how to Google; and so it goes! []

Record of Native People on Gulf of California Islands, The
By Thomas Bowen. Arizona State Museum. 101 pp. Index. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 201. .
One of the deeper questions about the Southwest is how it was originally settled: by prehistoric people coming across land or along the continental shores, perhaps in canoes? Archaeological sites on the gulf islands may offer clues, just as they do to the heritage and history of the Seri Indians living on the edge of the Southwest. An energetic and exceptionally capable archaeologist, Tom Bowen has explored all of these islands looking for clues, and in this book he offers an excellent glimpse of what is known about people who lived there from the beginning of time. []

Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains
By Jan MacKell. University of New Mexico Press. 458 pp. Index. $34.95.
Whether referred to as harlot, daughter of joy, scarlet woman, painted woman, fallen woman, erring sister, hooker, illicit lady or lady of the night, it all comes down to the fact that prostitution was a lively trade in towns throughout the West. Business in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, was every bit as active in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This is a scholarly, well-written history, respectful of the thousands of women who, for numerous reasons found themselves earning a living as a lady of easy virtue. Living conditions varied, many faced abuse, just as many became addicts and died young either of disease or by their own hand. Some were respected as good business women. Some became celebrities. Some were revered for their kindness and charity and often eulogized with elaborate burials. Here is a fine and sympathetic history of the oldest profession. []

Red, Green, or Murder
By Steven Havill. Poisoned Pen Press. 284 pp. $24.95.
When an elderly, ailing rancher is found dead on his kitchen floor, a half-eaten burrito and a glass of wine on the table, the conclusion seems obvious: a fatal heart attack. But things just don't add up for New Mexico livestock inspector and former sheriff Bill Gastner . . . and then a local cowboy goes missing. After fifteen novels set in fictional Posadas County, Havill owns this territory, which he stocks with small-town characters and plausible mysteries. This latest entry has the comfortable feel of a well-worn boot. []

Reflections in Place: Connected Lives of Navajo Women
By Donna Deyhle. University of Arizona Press. 256 pp. Index. $24.95 (pbk).

Native American women still must fight stereotyping, discrimination, and disconnectivity in the Southwest, but there is hope.
Remarkable Plants of Texas: Uncommon Accounts of our Common Natives
By Matt Warnock Turner. University of Texas Press. 336 pp. Index. $29.95.
Covering the entire state of Texas, Turner provides clear, detailed accounts of selected trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and cacti. His accounts are informative and the photos pretty. The author succeeds in providing information beyond what we usually find in botanical field guides. []

Remedies for a New West: Healing Landscapes, Histories, and Cultures
By Sharon K. Collinge, Andrew Cowell, Patricia Nelson Limerick. University of Arizona Press. 324 pp. Index. $35.00.
The New West is not just the Southwest, of course, and the 11 essays in this volume range geographically throughout the larger region. In fact, pay attention to the subtitle so as not to be surprised that this is a book more broadly about survival, not just about the environment. Editor Limerick, the best-known of the 15 authors and editors involved in the production of this book, provides a closing essay that suggests a change in how we view our efforts on behalf of the environment. Preservation, conservation and restoration, she proposes can no longer be viewed as separate. We must integrate them so that each understands the value of the others and does not concentrate on their differences. []

Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West
By Annette McGivney, James Kay. Braided River. 174 pp. Index. $29.95.
Top Pick
Of this year’s fine crop of books about water in the West -- James Lawrence Powell’s Dead Pool, Char Miller’s Water in the 21st–Century West, and Robert Glennon’s Unquenchable -- this one is the best, for it vividly shows what water means to those who live here. In 1963 Glen Canyon dam harnessed the Colorado River and created a massive reservoir, Lake Powell, a favorite spot for house boaters and fishermen. But Nature has not cooperated, and the West faces a draught and changing climate. Boat docks are now high and dry; stream bottom sediments are now erosion badlands, and high overhead a bathtub ring mars the canyon walls. On the other hand, cottonwoods and cattails are returning to riverbanks that just a few years ago were covered by 140 feet of lake water; hikers can now take remote canyons to river’s edge. Lake Powell may never again be more than half full, and like the proverbial glass of water, we in a changing West must decide if life is half full or half empty. Our expectations need a realignment. McGivney’s clear, objective prose is matched with stunning photos by James Kay. The book is a visual parable.
Readers may wish to revisit Eliot Porter’s The Place No One Knew and Tad Nichols’ Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World.
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.”

Rhino Ranch
By Larry McMurtry. Simon & Schuster. 278 pp. $26.00.
Fleeting references to Arizona, a road trip to Wickenburg, and Ed Abbey's "Desert Solitaire" provide the southwestern connection in this final installment of McMurtry's Thalia saga. Adrift after a heart attack and impending divorce, Duane Moore returns to his North Texas hometown (the setting of The Last Picture Show), where a wild-animal sanctuary has displaced oil production and cattle raising as a mainstay of the local economy. McMurtry's keen appreciation of the foibles of the human condition and of small-town life punctuate this bittersweet rumination on change and growing old. Faithful readers will experience a pang of regret at the end of the road. []

Recouperating from a heart attach, protagonist Duane Moore returns home to Thalia, TX where life proves anything but restful.
River Flows North, The
By Graciela Limón. Arte Público Press. 177 pp. $24.95.
Do you remember the storyline of Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey? Limon provides a border version, of sorts. Her travelers are not crossing a bridge but the desert through which passes the U.S.-Mexico border. From the initial phase of identifying a guide (we call them coyotes these days) to the final scenes of arrival at Interstate 8 somewhere between Yuma and Casa Grande, the tale plays out with hardships that boggle this reader’s imagination, but feel nonetheless all too real. Limon, author of six previously published novels, lets the tale tell itself and the travelers speak to us directly about their reasons, always desperate, for making the trek to El Norte. The river of the title, by the way, is that symbolic one made up of human bodies. []

Road to Mount Lemmon, The : a Father, a Family, and the Making of Summerhaven
By Mary Ellen Barnes, Tony Zimmerman. University of Arizona Press. 202 pp. Index. $17.95.
The daughter of Summerhaven pioneer Tony Zimmerman recreates a world that was reduced to ashes in the 2003 Mount Lemmon fire. In her warm and engaging memoir, Barnes recounts tales of her father and of family life on the mountain during the 1940s and 1950s, development of the resort community, and residents like Pat Jenks and others who shaped its character. The book is both a tribute to Tony Zimmerman's vision and persistence, and a nostalgic look at a bygone world. Dozens of historic photographs capture life and leisure on the mountain sanctuary overlooking Tucson. []
What was it like to grow up in the small mountain community of Summerhaven high atop the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson? Most of us would have loved the chance to do just that, and Mary Ellen Barnes brings us a filling set of essays on what it was like. She focuses on her father, Tony Zimmerman who essentially founded the mountain top community. He was an eternal optimist who loved the mountains, and even at age 99 he dug a hole in his backyard so he could plant a pecan tree. When asked why, he replied that he wanted to harvest some good pecans someday. That’s the pioneer spirit in a, shall we say, nutshell. The book is quite well-done and interesting. []

Romancing Rebecca
By Amber Polo. Wild Rose Press. 249 pp. $12.99.

Attorney Rebecca Dumarier escapes to Sedona Arizona, where she is torn between her feelings for two men.
By Mark Klett, Gregory McNamee. Radius Books. 104 pp. $75.00.

A collection of black and white photographs by the artist as portraits of these prominent "desert citizens."
San Juan Legacy: Life in the Mining Camps
By Duane A. Smith, John L . Ninnemann. University of New Mexico Press. 163 pp. Index. $24.95.
This nostalgic look at Colorado’s San Juan region’s mining camps from 1860-1914 blends local histories with John Ninnemann’s photos. For us who have forgotten or never knew, the book describes schools, mines and miners, red-light girls, doctors, churches, and domestic life. The good old days seem a long time ago and almost beyond comprehension. []

Santa Fe Ghosts: Mystery, History, Truth
By Susan Blumenthal. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 224 pp. Index. $14.99.

The author recounts the results of her investigations into ghost stories in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Santa Fe: History of an Ancient City
By David Grant Noble. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press. 134 pp. Index. $19.95.
In 2010 Santa Fe will celebrate its 400th anniversary, and its history is rich and bountiful. This revised and expanded edition of an earlier book presents eleven fully illustrated chapters by experts who know the town as well as love it. Marc Simmons narrates a chapter on the Santa Fe Trail. Joseph P. Sánchez details the Pueblo Revolt. Frances Levine pays tribute to the Palace of Governors. Stephen S. Post explains the Native American history prior to Juan de Oñate’s establishment of the first Spanish colony in 1598. Other chapters cover its founding, acequia architecture, eighteenth century society, and the town under Mexican rule. The volume is an inviting and informative general introduction to one of North America’s most fascinating cities. []

Scarecrow, The
By Michael Connelly. Simon & Schuster. 448 pp. $27.99.
Top Pick
Veteran crime novelist Connelly is at the top of his game in this fast-paced story of a pink-slipped Los Angeles Times reporter on the trail of a serial killer. The search takes him to Las Vegas and finally to Phoenix, where he steps into the world of computer hacking and identity theft. Connelly not only keeps readers' attention riveted to the page, but he also provides a sober and informed commentary on the dying newspaper business. []
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
By Michael Connelly. Little, Brown & Co.. 419 pp. $27.99.
Top Pick
(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. []

Searching for My Destiny
By George Blue Spruce, Deanne Durrett. University of Nebraska Press. 336 pp. Index. $45.00.

Traveling between two cultures, first-Native-American dentist George Blue Spruce, Jr., elevated health care in the Southwest pueblos and brought national attention to First-American health care issues.
Secret War in El Paso, The: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906-1920
By Charles H. Harris, Louis R. Sadler. University of New Mexico Press. 504 pp. Index. $37.50.
This 500-page history of El Paso during the Mexican Revolution has been put together using eighty thousand pages of previously classified FBI documents. It includes a marvelous cast of real-life characters and adds new information t what is known about the Revolution. it should make a good research tool for those interested in the history of the area. []

Server Down
By J.M. Hayes. Poisoned Pen Press. 200 pp. $24.95.
Tucson resident Hayes brings his hero of four previous mysteries, Mad Dog, to Tucson where he intends to watch the world-famous Yaqui Easter ceremony. Almost immediately ripped off by a stranger who kills a cop, the Dog finds himself the suspect and the entire TPD after him with orders that feel like “shoot on sight”. Meanwhile, back at his home in Kansas, his house has been leveled so it is pretty clear someone is after him, but who? and why? []
In his fourth "Mad Dog and Englishman" mystery, Hayes brings one of his eponymous heroes from Kansas to Tucson, where Mad dog becomes the prime suspect in a murder at the Pascua Easter ceremony. Meanwhile, someone lobs a grenade into his house. With the police close on their heels, Mad Dog and his neice, a UA law student, pursue the real villain into the world of on-line gaming. Readers willing to suspend belief are in for a wild ride. []

Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History
By Karl Jacoby. Penguin Press. 358 pp. Index. $32.95.
Top Pick
Add the illuminating multiple perspectives of Rashomon to the taut psychology in The Oxbow Incident, and we have Karl Jacoby’s superb study of a little known 1871 “lynch-mob” massacre of Apache women and children in southern Arizona. In four views we are shown four competing cultures—Anglo, Hispanic, Apache, and O’odham. Two of them had lived in the territory for centuries, two were new-comers, and each had its own heritage and agenda. For example, the Apaches took anyone’s horses as they would wildland game and didn’t consider it to be theft. The O’odham disliked warfare, but were spirited and capable warriors who fought to save the tribe, not to gain another group’s possessions. Jacoby weaves clear pictures of each culture before the massacre at Camp Grant, and then shares each group’s memory of the aftermath. His research is original, laser-sharp, and highly illuminating. Shadows at Dawn is model of how to go beyond the narrative of an event and explain its reasons and consequences. If 2009 has a “must-read,” this is it. []
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 []

Shadows of Death
By David Sundstrand. Minotaur Books. 336 pp. $25.95.
In this novel, BLM Ranger and desert rat Frank Flynn is called in to investigate the deaths of two men who had been illegally killing burros and other wildlife in the California desert. They died by gunshots from a hunting rifle fired from a considerable distance. Then the FBI shows up. They’re trying to connect the dots on a number of other murders of people who had similarly abused animals in particularly heinous ways and met deaths that mirrored what they had inflicted. The FBI and Frank both can visualize those dots leading next to the coming grand opening nearby of an exclusive game ranch where wealthy would-be hunters can pay big bucks for opportunities to bag big game, success guaranteed. As someone whose sympathies have long lain with the birds, bighorns and bobcats, Frank can see that this is going to be a challenging case in more ways than one. By looking at this situation from many perspectives, Sundstrand provides his readers with an opportunity to explore how pursuit of good causes can go awry - for people on every side of an issue. However the challenges to the writer in doing this are formidable too. I felt that he didn’t quite pull it off this time, but deserves appreciation for a good effort. This would also be a good book for book groups, classes or friends to take up: the discussions could be very interesting. Readers may be interested also in reading David Sundstrand’s previous novel, Shadow of the Raven, which was a Southwest Book of the Year in 2007. []

Shimmer, The
By David Morrell. Vanguard Press. 352 pp. $25.95.

In this novel, strange lights shimmering in the desert night draw disparate groups of people to the West Texas desert, with explosive results.
Shine Boy
By Annie Galvez, Jose Galvez. Shine Boy Media. 93 pp. $19.95.
Galvez provides about a dozen short memories of his growing up in Tucson matched with excellent photos he took later in life after he became a professional photographer. Good, clean black and white images that relate perfectly to the brief texts displaying nicely what Tucson was like 40 or so years ago.

Autobiographical anecdotes from the author's Tucson childhood are supplemented by his photographs from Latino communities across the United States.
Shootout at Miracle Valley
By William R. Daniel. Wheatmark. 203 pp. $19.95.

A contribution to the story of how differences in race, religion and culture led to a deadly confrontation between members of a religious group from Chicago and law enforcement officers in southeast Arizona which made national news headlines in 1982.
Simon J. Ortiz: a Poetic Legacy of Indigenous Continuance
By Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez, Evelina Zuni Lucero. University of New Mexico Press. 440 pp. Index. $27.95.
Top Pick
Simon Ortiz is a gentle,friendly, and unassuming individual who turns out to be a giant in the field of indigenous literature. This book celebrates his life and literary legacy. He is from Acoma pueblo and early on worked in the uranium mines, served in the U. S. Army and attended the University of New Mexico. He has taught in many places and recently returned to the United States following a number of years at the University of Toronto and is currently professor of English at ASU. This volume contains a number of in-depth interviews along with critical discussion and tributes to the poet by M.Scott Momaday, Joy Harjo, Laura Tohe, Leslie Marmon Silko and many more. Ortiz has some two dozen publications to his credit with more to come in the future. []

Snake Dreams: A Charlie Moon Mystery
By James D. Doss. St. Martin's Minotaur. 308 pp. $24.95.
Doss almost becomes a character in the Charlie Moon mysteries (this is the 13th) because it is often the narrative voice that provides the wisecracks and even the insights that help Charlie solve the mysteries. This time out we find Charlie getting more serious about FBI Special Agent Lila Mae McTeague and Charlie’s aunt Daisy having visions, doesn’t she always, of dead people. Doss’s tales are too cute for some mystery buffs, but if you like your danger spiced with humor and in the beautiful setting of the Ute Reservation in southwestern Colorado, this is your cup of tea.

This latest entry in the Charlie Moon mystery series finds the Native American rancher/sleuth's marriage hopes complicated by murder.
Some of the Dead are Still Breathing: Living in the Future
By Charles Bowden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 243 pp. $24.00.
Bowden concludes the trilogy he began with "Blood Orchid" and "Blues for Cannibals" with this rumination on what it takes to keep moving in a world bent on self-destruction. The answer may surprise some of Bowden's fans, but this adrenaline-powered trip through desert and ocean, life and literature, love and sex, is worth taking. []
This book could have been titled “The Biology of Desire, Southwest Style.” Or “The Hunger Artist Chows Down.” Or “Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places.” This is Bowden raging to live in a dying world, a gifted writer saying “yes” to life – “I wanted to say yes, shout yes, be yes” (page 161). You ask, what is the book about? Merely life, death, and all between. It is not a book for the timid, but hey, if you’re still breathing, maybe you can still feel serpents and oceans, canyons and love. One thread through Bowden’s work reappears here as thick as hawser: “I will never forget the dread… of living my life and yet having my life pass me by” (page 59). He is a messenger from the heart of darkness; the book is like dancing with a dervish. He portrays a world where relationships are like interviews and sex is as casual as conversation, but one wonders if this lifestyle is as affirmative as the author claims. This is the third volume of a trilogy that includes Blood Orchid and Blues for Cannibals -- seldom have words performed so well on a page.

Spanish Language of New Mexico and Southern Colorado, The: a Linguistic Atlas
By Garland D. Bills, Neddy A. Vigil. University of New Mexico. 383 pp. Index. $80.00.
An academic milestone, this scholarly volume presents results of the first large-scale systematic linguistic survey of a unique form of Spanish found in New Mexico and southern Colorado. One of the world’s major languages, Spanish became the first European language used by residents of land now in the southwestern United States, in 1598. Through early influences of native peoples of the Caribbean and Mexico, its subsequent isolation in the far northern extremity of Spanish America, its later contact with American English and, more recently, with the modern Spanish of Mexican immigrants, this dialect has become a linguist’s dream. It’s impact can be appreciated by recognizing that Anglos represented less than 10% of New Mexico’s population in 1880 and did not become a majority in that state until the 1940s. To this day, Spanish and English continue to influence each other and the cultures of the American Southwest. Written for a broad audience, this book offers a special insight into the cultural diversity of the Southwest. []

Strip, The: a Novel
By E. Duke Vincent. Bloomsbury. 320 pp. $25.00.

A veteran of such TV series as Vega$, Dynasty and Melrose Place, Vincent gives us a page-turner set in 1980 with the fingers of The Mob doing some dirty work in Las Vegas.
Strong Enough to Die: a Caitlin Strong Novel
By Jon Land. Forge. 351 pp. $24.95.
Land puts a new spin on the thriller genre by evoking 19th-century Texas Ranger lore in the fight against 21st-century global terrorism. Fifth-generation ranger Caitlin Strong teams up with a man she wrongly sent to prison to thwart a plot involving a U.S. security company and Mexican mafia that reaches from the Chihuahuan desert to the Middle East. Hard-boiled characters, a fast-paced plot, and the imaginative use of one of the West's iconic symbols make this an exciting and satisfying addition to Land's long list of bestsellers. []
Three separate story lines converge in this contemporary page-turner. The central figure is an appealing ex-Texas Ranger, a woman, a fifth generation Ranger who has left the service after a traumatic shoot-out. There is more than one villain, the worst of whom is an extremely evil and powerful man, who runs a “security” company for the U.S. [think, Blackwater and Iraq and you won’t be far off]. Land controls his characters, the action [many many deaths by gunfire] and moves everything along at a fast clip. []

Sunbonnet, The: An American Icon in Texas
By Rebecca Jumper Matheson. Texas Tech University Press. 240 pp. $29.95.
Here is a charming history of the sunbonnet, once the icon for women trodding overland during the great migration to California in the mid-800s. But there is more to the story. The author tells us that Texas women treasured their bonnets well into the 1940s. Ah, yes. Perfect white skin was the reason since the bonnet shaded both the face and the neck. Ad did you know there were two kinds, the poke and the slat? They kept these bonnets pristinely clean, but problems arose with the starch used for a perky stand up shade -- sometimes little varmits managed to find a good meal with the starch. There are plenty of photos, oral interviews and patterns for creating one's own bonnet. []
By , Margaret Murray. WriteWords Press. 358 pp. $14.95.
Murray is good with dialog and the details of behavior and character that turn the people in her novel into believable figures. Readers with a need for realism in their fiction will, however, find much to criticize as the story leaps across millenia mixing modern San Francisco with the Chaco Canyon culture known to anthro-archaeologists as Anasazi.

Sunflowers / Girasoles
By Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Gwendolyn Zepeda, Alisha Ann Guadalupe Gambino. Piñata Books. $15.95.

7-year-old Marisol learns how to garden from her grandfather. When he gives her a bag of sunflower seeds, Marisol plans a surprise for her neighbors and schoolmates.
Superstition Wilderness Trails East: Hikes, Horse Rides, and History
By Jack Carlson, Elizabeth Stewart. Clear Creek Publishing. 352 pp. Index. $16.95.

Forty treks in the eastern Superstition Wilderness area are described with photos, topo maps and background information.
Sweet Nata: Growing up in Rural New Mexico
By Gloria Zamora. University of New Mexico Press. 230 pp. $24.95.

A memoir of growing up in a traditional Hispanic environment during the 1950s and 1960s in Mora and Corrales, New Mexico, with homage to the contributions of parents, grandparents and extended family.
Sweet Smell of Home, The: the Life and Art of Leonard F. Chana
By Barbara Chana, Leonard F. Chana, Susan Lobo. University of Arizona Press. 176 pp. $21.95.
Top Pick
You want to know about ageless life in the desert? Read this. It’s a joyous passport to the Tohono O’odham Nation west of Tucson, Arizona. The paintings and drawings of native artist Leonard Chana jump with life. I’m having several of the vibrant, evocative pages framed for hanging; they are pure delight. My favorite is “Youth: Endless Time.” Or maybe it’s the untitled figure 41, showing a man and his son eating watermelon under their ramada. Chana is the most cheerful painter of desert people since Ted DeGrazia. And the text? It bounces with the talk of real people, ones you’ll enjoy knowing. []

Taste of Love from the Heart, The, with Love, Nanie
By Barbara Carillo. Angel Baby Press. 240 pp. .

A native Tucsonan shares her family’s history and favorite southwestern recipes.
Telling New Mexico: a New History
By Frances Levine, Louise Stiver, Marta Weigle. Museum of New Mexico Press. 488 pp. Index. $45.00.
Top Pick
What a great way to get a history lesson! Sit down, open this book anywhere and enjoy. Perhaps this is because forty-three New mexico historians wrote in their area of expertise in such a way that one can hardly wait to turn the page. For sure, the Land of Enchantment has an exciting history from the Spanish entrada to Denis Chavez and the making of modern Mexico. Here we have the Santa Fe Railroad and American Indians promoting tourism, the dramatic story of Los Alamos and World War II, commentary on the artistic community from Mabel Dodge Lujan to Georgia O'Keeffe, Rosewell and its flying saucers, Buddy Holly and his music, hippies in Taos, and Mexican immigrants. Let us not forget the flag, Camino Real, acequias, and oh yes, Billy the Kid. This is for a general reader, the scholar and probably should be in every New Mexico classroom. []
To know New Mexico’s soul, read Telling New Mexico, a compilation of 51 essays about the state. Try Jason Silverman’s story about the Clovis recording studio that propelled rocker Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise, or Roland Dickey’s ode to wind and windscapes, or Gail Okawa’s search for her grandfather once confined to WWII Japanese internment camps in Lordsburg and Santa Fe, or Marta Weigle’s illuminating piece on “engineering” New Mexico as the land of enchantment for tourists. Each of the essays in this book is excellent and many are superb. The book has seven parts --- Light, Land, Water, Wind; Beyond History’s Records; The Northern Province; Linking Nations; Becoming the Southwest; The ‘New’ New Mexico; and My New Mexico --- but feel free to plunge in anywhere. Other states should do so well. []

Texas BBQ
By John Morthland, Wyatt McSpadden. University of Texas Press. 159 pp. $39.95.

Photographic journeys to barbecue purveyors of Texas are explored beautifully in both color and black and white.
Texas Rattlesnake Roundups
By Clark E. Adams, John K. Thomas. Texas A&M University Press. 113 pp. Index. $19.95.
Not only in Texas, but in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Pennysylvania, Alabama, and Georgia,do the aficionados gather rattlesnakes for yearly roundups during January and July. Though the reptiles have been hunted for years to rid the country of perceived threats to people and livestock, ultimately these roundups became community events with snake shoots, sacking, stomping, racing, and decapitation contests. Curios were created from the skin and other snake parts. Snaked dens were gassed to aid in collection and many died during transportation. The book is filled with statistics. It also includes a fine anatomy and natural history of the reptile. A number of organizations oppose these roundups including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelto to Animals and the Human Society of the United States. []
Long known for its arts and crafts, Santa Fe was designated a UNESCO “creative city” in 2005. As this book shows in several hundred superbly selected and presented photographs covering 140 years, Santa Fe is also a photo city. The cameras of luminaries such as Gilpin, Vroman, Adams, Porter, and Lown have caught the magic of the town’s sense of place, identity, and history. The combination of fine art, historical photography, and documentary work makes for more than just a magnificent volume – it gives a full and inviting sense of North America’s oldest capital. Personally, I’ve always felt Santa Fe is too glitzy, commercial, and snobby – a home for reclusive rich folks and aesthetes, but this photo celebration portrays a vibrant and diverse community. Now I will look forward to strolling around town this book in hand. It is wonderful. []

Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe
By Mary Anne Redding, Krista Elrick. Museum of New Mexico Press. 268 pp. $50.00.
From earliest days (of photography, that is) through the booming railroad years to contemporary scenes (the magical, open-air opera, for example), this collection of images, beautifully reproduced, captures the essence of the oldest capitol city in the U.S., and the first U.S. city to be designated by UNESCO as a “Creative City”. Fine visual browse with excellent text(s). []
Long known for its arts and crafts, Santa Fe was designated a UNESCO “creative city” in 2005. As this book shows in several hundred superbly selected and presented photographs covering 140 years, Santa Fe is also a photo city. The cameras of luminaries such as Gilpin, Vroman, Adams, Porter, and Lown have caught the magic of the town’s sense of place, identity, and history. The combination of fine art, historical photography, and documentary work makes for more than just a magnificent volume – it gives a full and inviting sense of North America’s oldest capital. Personally, I’ve always felt Santa Fe is too glitzy, commercial, and snobby – a home for reclusive rich folks and aesthetes, but this photo celebration portrays a vibrant and diverse community. Now I will look forward to strolling around town this book in hand. It is wonderful. []

Time of the Rangers: Texas Rangers: From 1900 to the Present
By Mike Cox. Forge. 496 pp. Index. $27.95.
This second volume continues the long history of the oldest law enforcement agency in a North American state. By this time, the rangers have dismounted in favor of the auto and helicopter to locate trouble and hand out justice. Their pursuits are legendary and this book should satisfy any reader looking for well-documented adventure. Here the rangers handled border troubles with Mexico, got tough with killers and bootleggers, settled oil field riots and more recently, investigated the marriages of the under-age females in the YFZ Ranch, home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is real life stuff -- better than fiction. []

To Walk in Beauty: a Navajo Family's Journey Home
By N. Scott Momaday, Stacia Spragg-Braude. Museum of New Mexico Press. 200 pp. $45.00.
Top Pick
Heartfelt, a word not used much these days, would be a good choice for a single-word review of this large-format, handsome production. The illustrations, all black-and-white and mostly shot in soft-focus, provide us outsiders with a realistic view of what it is like to be a Navajo family living on the reservation today. Each of nearly 100 photos is “captioned” with a quote from some member of the Begay family. []
This profoundly moving book is about a Navajo family, the Begays. Their story is told in compelling, personal photographs by Stacia Spragg-Braude and in the family’s own words, excerpted from recorded interviews. It is the story of identity, who we are, and what is our place in the world. Steeped in history, Churro sheep, and modern afflictions, the family struggles to survive by relying on “the old ways” to heal both the body and the spirit. In the words of Alta Begay, “My dad’s analogy was that we need to be like the sheep – be hardy and resilient” (page 122), and they were. The forceful images take us inside the family as if it were our own, for in many ways it is.
If you have driven the highways of our Native nations and perhaps wondered “Who are these people?” and “What’s it like to live here?”, then read this book. In an afternoon you’ll gain the insight of a lifetime.

Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place
By Susan Wittig Albert. University of Texas Press. 183 pp. $24.95.
In her forties, Albert gave up a solid career in teaching and university administration to take a gamble on marriage (her fourth), rural living, and fiction writing. Twenty years and dozens of successful books later, she revisits her journal entries from the 1980s and 1990s and muses over the importance of place (internal and external) in mooring a life and a marriage. In simple, elegant prose, she describes how she and her husband built a life of togetherness and solitude on a hardscrabble ranch in the hill country north of Austin and explains the spiritual lessons she learned on a monastery in remote South Texas. []

Touring the West: With the Fred Harvey Co. & the Santa Fe Railway
By Kathleen Nickens, Paul R. Nickens. Schiffer Publishing. 110 pp. Index. $24.99.
It was a perfect marriage, that of the Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad. Between 1880 and 1960 he pair promoted tourism in the west with a vigorous promotional campaign. Postcards were particularly effective since the images were calculated to encourage travel and included the Harvey House hotels and grandiose scenes along with the exotic -- photos of Navajo and pueblo peoples at daily tasks. The book contains hundred of color replicas of many of these postcards. The layout is badly designed and detracts from total enjoyment of the historic cards. []

Trail of Gold and Silver, The: Mining in Colorado, 1859-2009
By Duane A. Smith. University Press of Colorado. 320 pp. Index. $22.95.
Smith writes well, pushing the tale of 150 years of mining in Colorado along at a good clip. Although many of us consider Colorado to be somewhat outside “the Southwest”, it is hard to deny Ouray, Telluride and Silverton, all of which get their share of attention here. []

Travails of Two Woodpeckers, The: Ivory-Bills & Imperials
By David E. Brown, Kevin B. Clark, Noel F. R. Snyder. University of New Mexico Press. 170 pp. Index. $27.95.
Although half of his book is about the Southeast, former home to the now probably extinct ivory-bill woodpecker, much of it deals with the imperial, once widely found in Mexico’s Sierra Madre. The authors chronicle the loss of these birds and make some penetrating points about endangered-species management, which is important to the Southwest. The book is good ornithology and a very thoughtful analysis. []

Trial and Triumph, the Life and Accomplishments of Louise Foucar Marshall: Her First 67 Years
By Patricia Peters Stephenson. self-published. 134 pp. $18.00.
No doubt about it. Louise Foucar Marshall was a very interesting woman, at least up to 1932, when this biography ends with her acquittal following the trial in which she was accused of murdering her husband. By that time, Louise was recognized as the first female professor at the Unive4ersity of Arizona and a wealthy businesswoman who became known as Tucson's top real estate developers. She ultimately set up the Marshall Foundation, which continues to support various charities and University of Arizona scholarships. The self-published typescript is hard to read, filling over one hundred 8 x 10" pages, and includes badly reproduced photographs and no index. There is no doubt that an editor was badle needed here. []

Trickster in the Front Yard: Still Semi-Native
By Jim Belshaw. University of New Mexico Press. 210 pp. $19.95.
For many years, readers have turned to Jim Belsaw's column in the Albuquerque Journal. He has selected a potpourri of delightful vignettes drawn from real life for Trickster. These are sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes reflective, sometimes he plays with human hypocracies. Who would believe that he and Tony Hillerman were long-time buddies who never talked of writing, instead, enjoyed their Tuesday poker club. He makes fun of Corrales where a local committee wanted road side signage reminding travelers that "Coyotes live in Corrales." []

By Charles Bowden, Michael P. Berman. University of Texas Press. 260 pp. Bill and Alice Wright Photography Series. $55.00.
In parallel stories reminiscent of Eduardo Galeano’s masterful Memory of Fire, Charles Bowden explores the sweep of Southwest history and peers into the future. Bowden tries to make sense of modern America by visiting Geronimo, Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa, Robert Oppenheimer, and Lola Casanova. He powerfully narrates a dark side, one where detonation of the atomic bomb at Trinity Site is not out of character for the Southwest. The clash of cultures, extermination, fear, crime, savagery, and wars on the land itself are not new here, but the lesson has yet to be learned: “The land must be earned, not taken” (page 225). The result is a rewarding but wringing look at ourselves, for Bowden seats us uncomfortably close to the fire. Haunting, stark black-and-white photos by Guggenheim fellow Michael Berman ably serve the mood of the book. Trinity completes a memorable trilogy with Inferno (2007) and Exodus (2008). []
Never a writer with an optimistic view of human nature and behavior Bowden’s text surveys our, that is we human beings’, history in terms of such colorful figures as Pancho Villa and Billy the Kid, discovering in the process a connection to Robert Oppenheimer and the Trinity Project. Teamed with photographer Berman, as he was in the first book of this trilogy (Exodus/Exodo came in the middle), the text reminds us constantly that there is surely a human obligation to protect and preserve the land/earth, while the black and white photos suggest, without optical bludgeoning, that vast, mostly un-populated, vistas are not necessarily cheery sites.

True West: An Illustrated Guide to the Heyday of the Western
By Michael Barson. TCU Press. 175 pp. $29.95.
If you ever watched a Western movie, read a cowboy comic book, or listened to Gene Autry, this book take you back to those wonderful days. Splashy full-color book jackets, movie posters, and album covers will evoke more fond memories than a high school reunion. The text is not analytical, but it is certain to provide a nostalgic evening of fun reading. []
The "True West" is one of the imagination and brings back childhood memories of those "ride 'em" cowboy movies that feature Indians, runaway wagon trains, criminals, beautiful women, and romance. Here are Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Amanda Blake and James Arness. Included is an annotated list of every western movie, a list of authors and their books, songs, and even comic books. Hundreds of colorful ads are reproduced here. A delightful trip back to the West as Hollywood saw it. []

Tucson's Most Haunted: a Collection of Ghostly Tales From the Old Pueblo
By Katie Mullaly, J. Patrick Ohlde, Mikal Mullaly. Schiffer Publishing. 160 pp. $14.99.

Thirty tales of local mysteries and ghosts in Tucson. Who knew?
Tucson's River of Words: Award Winning Youth Poetry & Art, 2009
By Many authors . Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. 32 pp. .

This volume collects winning poetry and art from the 2009 Tucson's River of Words Youth Poetry and Art Contest, sponsored by Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.
Two Sams, The: Men of the West
By F.M. Worden. CCB Publishing. 270 pp. $16.95.
Worden tries to pack far too many scenes into a single (make that double) narrative. He includes frontier events ranging from the Mississippi River down into Texas and finally out to Arizona when it was still a Territory, and the individuals here, mostly Sam Duncan and his son, are involved in what seems like every kind of adventure that ever occurred on the frontier.

Valles Caldera: A Geologic History
By Fraser Goff. University of New Mexico Press. 114 pp. Index. $18.95 paperback.
This outstanding book covers millions of years of volcanic activity that ultimately created the Valley Caldera, a twelve-mile wide collapsed crater in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains. Formerly part of the Baca Ranch, the Valle Caldera National Preserve was established by Congress in 2000. Here is some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southwest. Those familiar with roads to Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument in the north and Jemez Springs to the south are treated to dramatic vistas of mountains, mesas, and cliffs showing the color and strata laid down over millions of years. Outstanding photos and a glossary defining geologic terms are welcome additions. []
Valles Caldera northwest of Santa Fe is an ancient, huge volcano with a resurgent dome, and its history in this well-told book is a key part of the geologic story of northern New Mexico. If you enjoy geology or understanding how beautiful, intriguing landscapes were formed, this book is for you. The area is now a national preserve and open the public. []

Valley Farms Site, The: Prehistoric Floodplain Agriculture on the Santa Cruz River in Southern Arizona
By Richard V. N. Ahlstrom, Kevin D. Wellman. SWCA Environmental Consultants. 242 pp. $30.00.
You may have driven Interstate 10 past the Cortaro Road exit without noticing a significant Hohokam farming site along the Santa Cruz River north of Tucson. Known as the Valley Farms site, it was part of a larger community of fields, canals, and villages 3100 to 2700 years before present. The site provided many interesting artifacts and adds to archaeologists’ knowledge of the region. []

View from Frog Mountain, The
By Rebecca Cramer. Imago Press. 207 pp. $14.00.
Bluenight lives on the edge of the O’odham Reservation west of Tucson near San Xavier, but this time out she goes up Mt. Lemmon [Frog Mountain is the English translation of the O’odham name for it] to Winterhaven to help an old friend who is opening a B&B with attached theater! There’s a killer up there, but motives are hard to find. Cramer occasionally goes astray with details. The road to Mt Lemmon does not, for example, circle the mountain 12 times, and if anyone knows where to find that Southwest white pine that is “five times the width of [a woman’s] body” we need to report it because it’s a world record by a factor of 3 or 4! []
This Linda Bluenight mystery takes place in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Elements involve the forest, bears, killings, medicine men, and an intrepid heroine. By the end of chapter one, we learn that “As Meg Weatherby began to tear at her hair and lingerie, the peace of the mountain was shattered by the howling of a lone woman” (page 13). If you collect fiction about Tucson, you’ll want add this to your shelf. []

Visions Underground: Carlsbad Caverns Through the Artist's Eye
By Lois Manno. Rio Grande Books. 192 pp. Index. $19.99.
The West’s most famous caverns have inspired and confounded artists from the time of its discovery. The initial postcards of this unique national park were all drawn by hand. It used to be very dark down there. After accepting an assignment to photograph this natural wonder in 1936, Ansel Adams wrote to Alfred Stieglitz, “Pray for me.” In 1951, Sylvania donated 2.400 of its new technological marvels, the flash bulb, for a photographic first: a photo of the Big Room in a single shot. Compiled by an artist, writer and spelunker with many years experience in Carlsbad Caverns, this is a beautifully illustrated story of art from the depths of one of America’s natural wonders. []

Volume of Friendship, A: the Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Isabella Greenway 1904-1953
By Robert H. McGinnis, Kristie Miller. Arizona Historical Society. 354 pp. Index. Preface by Blanche Wiesen Cook. $34.95.
Top Pick
Isabella Greenway, business woman,rancher, and Arizona's first congress woman, formed a remarkable friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, social reformer and wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that spanned fifty years. Here are their letters in which they discuss their children and family matters. There is much more. Their lives were filled to the brim with unbelievable pressures and they shared the joys and sorrows of life and death through their letters. Both women were traditional wives, but also were pioneers in entering the all-male world of politics, and they often disccuss4ed national and world affairs, not always agreeing. There was gossip too, and the authors have identified hundreds of individuals mentioned by first name, and included various vignettes about them if known. We can only wonder how these busy women handled adversity creatively with determination and a positive outlook. []

Walking Nature Home: A Life's Journey
By Susan J. Tweit, Sherrie York. University of Texas Press. 177 pp. $24.95.
This is a very gentle, touching survival story about the author’s 27-year battle against a vague connective-tissue disease that threatened to kill her within five years of her first diagnosis. She fought back and rewards us with the details of her battle. She drew inspiration from nature and the stars, from love and learning to cope with everyday stresses. It is a tightly told story of Everywoman, one highly worth reading. Although much of the setting is in Wyoming and Colorado, there are episodes in New Mexico and Arizona. The author is renowned for her books about nature, and as we can see in this book, that connection goes straight to her soul. []

War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S. - Mexican War
By Brian Delay. Yale University Press. 473 pp. Index. $25.00.
Top Pick
A shift in perspective can sometimes produce new insights. This is the case with DeLay's examination of the causes and consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War that takes into account decades of mounting pressure from Indian tribes along Mexico's northern frontier. Starting with the question, why did article 11 of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo obligate the U.S. to halt Indian raids into Mexico, DeLay examines the political, economic, and cultural forces that generated widespread violence; the consequences for the struggling Mexican state; and the impact on U.S. diplomacy. This insightful and gracefully written study casts fresh light on an important and much-studied era in southwestern borderlands history. []

Water in the 21st Century West: A High Country News Reader
By Char Miller. University of Oregon Press. 312 pp. Index. $24.95 (pbk).
If you’ve even been thirsty, truly too-dry-to-talk thirsty, you know the anguish of urgency. The 44 journalist essays in this book explain that urgency, how we got here, what it means, and how we might wet our parched throats. These provocative essays originally appeared in High Country News. Especially interesting are the pieces on tribal water rights and how they may reshape western water economics. The future will not be easy. []

West of the Imagination, The
By William H. Goetzmann, William N. Goetzmann. University of Oklahoma Press. 640 pp. Index. $65.00.
Top Pick
In 41 chapters, this book displays and discusses the gamut of Western art and photography. It is much more than an art history that portrays culture and regional identity, that explains aesthetics and artistic technique, and that pays tribute to artists and photographers. In essence, it is uniquely an American history. This is the second edition and it adds five new chapters, including ones on Currier & Ives, Jackson Pollock, and postmodern Western photography. The book has a host of my old favorites by Moran, Remington, Bierstadt, and Russell, and ones new to me such as Patrick Nagatani, David Hockney, and Richard Hovendon Kern – and even a new favorite, Mark Tansey’s oil on canvas “Constructing the Grand Canyon” (pages 542-543). Your favorite will be in here someplace. The West of the Imagination will be an excellent addition to your home library. []
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. []

When the Rains Come: a Naturalist's Year in the Sonoran Desert
By John Alcock. University of Arizona Press. 334 pp. Index. $45.00.
Readers who remember Alcock’s Sonoran Desert Summer, Sonoran Desert Spring, and In a Desert Garden will know what to expect with this latest book: well-written descriptions and personal accounts of desert life, in this case especially the Usery Mountains. In addition to his descriptions Alcock has taken his camera along on many trips and frequently gives us photographic proof of the changes that have occurred in 10, 15 or even 20 years. Self-identified as “an entomologist of sorts” he has paid particular attention to the small creatures of our region and in this regard is particularly concerned about what changes are occurring in the environment that threaten life as we know it. []

Whole Damned World, The : New Mexico Aggies at War, 1941-1945: World War II Correspondence of Dean Daniel B. Jett
By Daniel B. Jett, Martha Shipman Andrews. New Mexico State University Library in collaboration with Rio Grande Books. 384 pp. Index. $35.95.
What a wonderful story. College men and women go off to war and write home to a favorite professor, Dean “Dad” Jett, who by return mail sends them encouragement, news from home, and extra postage stamps. The letters are funny, touching, and inspiring. Here are the best of the letters. Never underestimate the power of a personal letter.
Interestingly designed, but the font is a smidge small or light for older eyes.

Widow's Revenge, The
By James Doss. Minotaur Books. 290 pp. $24.99.

The 14th book in Doss’ Charlie Moon series finds the Navajo rancher and sometime tribal investigator once again involved in a mystery that seems to involve witches.
Wild Sorrow
By Sandi Ault. Berkley Hardcover. 307 pp. $24.95.
Vibrant descriptions of the northern New Mexico landscape and pueblo Indian rituals highlight Ault's third accomplished mystery featuring BLM resource protection officer Jamaica Wild. While searching for a wounded cougar, Jamaica and her wolf companion, Mountain, stumble upon the body of an elderly Anglo woman in the ruins of an Indian boarding school. The discovery unleashes painful memories of teachers' abusive treatment of Indian children, and leads Wild on a dangerous search for a killer involved in shady land dealings. Plot points don't always connect, but Ault nonetheless tells a compelling story. []

Wildlife in American Art; Masterworks from the National Museum of Wildlife Art
By Adam Duncan. University of Oklahoma Press. 287 pp. Index. $35.00.

Maynard Dixon and W.H. Dunton represent the Southwest in the National Wildlife Museum’s collection of paintings and sculptures, 145 of them shown here in full-color.
Winchester Warriors: Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901
By Bob Alexander. University of North Texas Press. 402 pp. Index. $29.95.

A history of the exploits of one of the six original units of the Texas Rangers.
Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950
By Heidi J. Osselaer. University of Arizona Press. 218 pp. $45.00.
Osselaer describes the fight for political equality in Arizona through the activities of the women who waged it, from temperance and suffrage crusader Josephine Brawley Hughes to state auditor and gubernatorial candidate Ana Frohmiller. This seminal study, rich in anecdote and analysis, provides a solid foundation for future research into women's roles in Arizona politics. []
On July 12, 2009, Steve Benson's cartoon in the Arizona Republic featured Governor Jan Brewer in an outfit complete with oversized boxing gloves standing over a knocked-out GOP Hardliner musing "I hate girls," unhappy with the governor's point of view. What a long way we have come in Arizona since the beginning of time with the guys continuously rejected women's suffrage. They had numerous excuses: "married women were a detriment to public welfare," or it "might increase the Mormon vote," or "no self-respecting woman would be found in a saloon, so how could the corporations keep control of state politics if women voted?" Another asked" Why should women vote when they might eliminate vice and usher in a dry era in Arizona?" The book is replete with such stories as women stubbornly stood their ground and battled for equal rights. This culminated in 1998 when five women captured the top five positions in Arizona government. []

Wolf Tones: a Novel
By Irving Weinman. Jack Daniel & Co.. 351 pp. $16.95.
Fleeing Boston to 1) escape a pregnant young girlfriend, 2) escape a domineering father, 3) avoid a former wife he thinks of as XHelen, 4) etc., Ethan takes a one-year teaching stint in creative writing at UNM in Albuquerque. His feet barely touch the desert soil before he has drunkenly broken the department chairman’s nose and been seduced by the chairman’s wife. We might say “Angst thy name is Ethan” for he moves from one woe-is-me to another, yet there is something endearing about his struggles. Weinman’s writing of both very clever dialog and the beautiful/ugly New Mexico scenery is truly fine. Wolf Tones, by the way, are three things: the name of a folk singing group, the name of an unremembered writer, and a misnomer for a particular way of playing a piece of music.

Xerophilia: Ecocritical Explorations in Southwestern Literature
By Tom Lynch. Texas Tech University Press. 264 pp. Index. $35.00.
As used here, xerophilia represents one's immersion into the natural world both physically and psychologically. This book is for readers familiar with such writers as Frank Waters, Pat More, Charles Bowden, Edward Abbey, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ann Zwinger, Janice Emily Bowers,Gary Paul Nabhan, Ofelia Zepeda, and numerous others. Among the topics discussed are a acequias in the upper Rio Grande bioregion along with the distinctive culture that grew around them. The biological diversity of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, which include both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts is an important topic,and we learn that thirty-one percent of its species is listed as endangered. A chapter studies the importance of invertebrates to the desert's ecology, which the author refers to as bioregional consciousness. In additon, chapters look into various authors' philosophical and sensory immersion into naturalo or ecological aesthetics. []
This book can be read, and enjoyed, on at least three levels: a reprise of passages from Ed Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, Ann Zwinger, Charles Bowden, Jan Bowers, and Gary Nabhan. Or, a discussion of nature writing and how to enliven it with five senses or by looking at overlooked creatures like invertebrates. Or, a pitch for the value of regional literature, bioregional emphasis, and what the author calls eco-criticism. You’ll be challenged on all fronts (how do you keep regional literature from becoming provincial?) and you’ll enjoy new insights (the Spanish language, with its Arabic borrowings, is suited to our arid Southwest landscape, but English is not). Literary criticism smacks of academia, but think of those lively English class free-for-all debates not the stupefying standardized grammar tests. It can lead to a better understanding of our region. []

Year of the Horse
By , Justin Allen. Overlook Press. 320 pp. $18.95.

14-year-old Tzu-Lu travels west with a group of unusual characters to recover a lost treasure.
Yours to Command: The Life and Legend of Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald
By Harold J. Weiss, Jr.. University of North Texas Press. 480 pp. Index. $27.95.
A historian separates fact from legend in this first scholarly biography of the flamboyant lawman whose motto was: "No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'." Weiss persuasively argues that McDonald, one of the legendary "four captains," was a transitional figure who spanned the wild and wooly days of frontier law enforcement and the modern era of criminal detection and investigation. More than 100 pages of notes and sources attest to the thoroughness of Weiss' research. []

Yuma Reclamation Project, The: Irrigation, Indian Allotment, and Settlement Along the Lower Colorado River
By Robert A. Sauder Sauder. University of Nevada Press. 274 pp. Index. $44.95.

A history of the Yuma Reclamation Project, one of the the first federal irrigation projects in the West.
Zeckendorfs and Steinfelds: Merchant Princes of the American Southwest
By Bettina Lyons. Arizona Historical Society. 416 pp. Index. $24.95.
A very thorough history of the Zeckendorf and Steinfeld families who helped build Tucson. In essence it is a very readable history of frontier commerce and civic development. In many ways the frontier was won with a bag of flour and a bolt of cloth. []
While cowboys, Indians, bandits, sheriffs, soldiers and miners figure prominently in modern western dramas, the actual winning of the West depended heavily on supplies, trade and the merchant adventurers who built the basis for economic growth and prosperity. Before Macy’s, Dillard’s and Target got here, Tucsonans shopped at Steinfeld’s, Jacome’s and Myerson’s, local stores owned by local families whose contributions to our community go back many years. Thoroughly researched and written by a modern descendant, this history of a major pioneer family of Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Tucson provides a rare and fascinating glimpse of this important part of the story of our past. []

Zenith on the Horizon: An Encyclopedic Look at the Tucson Mountains
By William Ascarza. Tucson Mountain Press. 267 pp. Index. .
By trade William Ascara is a librarian, but his hobbies take him to the mountains. We can be glad they do, for this self-published grab-bag of facts about the Tucson Mountains, just west of town, is pretty good. He includes the usual peaks and passes, as well as wildlife, resorts, museums, and historical ruins that dot the landscape. Your walk in the hills will be much more interesting after reading this book. His enthusiasm is contagious. []

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