Books

Patricia Etter's Picks

Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the Wild West
Harvey changed the culture of restaurants that catered to train travelers through his attention to food and service in what he called a “Harvey Worthy” environment. That environment included using the finest European linens, cutlery and glassware in his legendary establishments along the route of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroads. Also legendary were the famed “Harvey Girls,” created in the belief that women should tend to the restaurants’ customers. Harvey’s empire grew to include hotels, created by designer and architect Mary Jane Coulter, and Indian Detour Couriers, women trained in Southwestern history and lore, who guided travelers to spectacular sites. This is an enjoyable and well-researched history of food and travel through the Southwest!
Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico
Open this book at random and you can be sure to find a butterfly ready to fly right off the page. This remarkable publication contains hundreds of photographs of every butterfly known to sojourn in New Mexico—some 400 beauties, each one unique. Mother Nature has outdone herself in designing colorful gossamer wings. The author provides a map of all the state’s counties, coded for the number of species to be found in each. Included are striking photographs of the terrain preferred by the various species. Also included is a check list, a butterfly glossary, recommended reading, maps, and an index. This is indeed a winner, and one need not leave his armchair to fully enjoy a butterfly hunt.
Exploring Desert Stone: John N. Macomb's 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of the Colorado
In 1859, Career Officer John N. Macomb, Jr., led the first survey of the region transected by the Old Spanish Trail, and particularly the canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau. Publication of his Report of an Expedition was held up due to the Civil War and did not receive the recognition it deserved. Madsen has resurrected and compiled an outstanding report on the expedition by adding recently unknown letters and diaries of Macomb's companions. Madsen located sites and natural features appearing in the report and documented each one using the technique of re-photography. Included with the book is a monumental facsimile map published by Frederick von Egloffstein in 1864. This reviewer would like to have seen a map that traced the journey showing modern location of expedition sites to help readers unfamiliar with the area.
Gift of Angels, A: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac
San Xavier Mission is an Arizona treasure and this book preserves its art to be available for all. Both the author and the photographer have created a masterpiece.
Hoboes: Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps, and the Harvesting of the West
It is hard to believe that tramps, hoboes, and various wanderers without roots were put in jail or scurried out of town. The author’s impeccable research covers a sorry time in history between 1870 and 1920, a time of discrimination against almost any cultural group that traveled from one seasonal job to another. Their work was critical to economic development. We find them logging and harvesting fruit in the Pacific Northwest, sugar beets in the Great Plains, picking cotton in Texas and Arizona, and vegetables, fruit, and hops in California. Railroads made it possible for large farms and ranches to ship their products and for workers to ride the rails to help with the harvest. These men were poorly paid, poorly housed, and poorly fed. Carl Sandburg traveled as a Hobo in 1897; the experience no doubt had an influence on his works. Wyman’s story gives us a better understanding and appreciation of the contribution that these homeless migrant workers made to a growing economy in the American West.
Peyote Road, The: Religious Freedom and the Native American Church
Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) grows wild in the limestone soils of four southwest Texas counties, mainly on privately-owned land. Peyoteros (those who collect the peyote buttons) must be licensed and are the source of the only legal supply. Although the peyote buds contain mescaline, studies show it is not considered addictive. However, only those who belong to the Native American Church, and who have a blood quantum not less than 25 percent are legally allowed to use peyote as a sacrament. The author’s well-written and interesting narrative includes the early history and beginnings of peyote use, how it developed into the Native American Church, and the individuals important in its promotion (Quanah Parker, for example, plays a major role). Since peyote cannot be cultivated, one might ask if the supply will keep up with future demand.
Santa Fe Nativa: a Collection of Nuevomexicano Writing
Here are wonderful Santa Fe stories written through the ages. They celebrate the city’s 400th year and honor its contribution to the foundations of Nuevomexicano culture, with themes that include observations of change over time, lament for the past, and traditions that have stood the test of time. More than 30 authors contributed stories in English and in Spanish that range from a curandera’s recipe for a lovelorn ex-husband to the romance of the chili pepper, with many delightful stops in between.
Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000
The Phoenix Union High School system serves the third-largest Native community in the country and was the site for this study of American Indian education in an urban environment. The strength of this book stems from its account of the experience of eighteen students from several tribes who found themselves in the minority among Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American students. Amerman discusses the emotional challenges confronting these students as they adjusted to a new educational system while working to retain a sense of cultural background and Native pride.
We are an Indian Nation: a History of the Hualapai People
The Hualapai people of northern Arizona have long fought to retain their traditions and rights to land and water through Spanish, Mexican, and American periods. Well researched, this first definitive history of the tribe is one that author Jeffery Shepherd wrote with the Tribal Council and residents as active participants. The tribe has long sought ways to search for economic stability but was often rejected because of outside politics. There is hope that the seventy-foot long horseshoe-shaped Hualapai Skywalk that juts four thousand feet over the Grand Canyon, will bring much needed funds through tourism. Here is a well-researched history from the earliest times that will be treasured by the Hualapai people and welcomed by scholars of American Indian history.
Wind Doesn't Need a Passport, The: Stories from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
The United States border with Mexico is a place where the citizens of two countries have long co-existed. It is also the epicenter of a myriad of problems concerning immigration, drugs, violence, and poverty. These problems are discussed in depth by the author, who has explored the Borderlands, talked with its residents, and concluded that there are things the American public needs to learn. Do they know thousands cross the border daily to work, visit the doctor, or buy groceries? Or that ranchers in New Mexico’s boot heel work closely with Mexican ranchers across the line? Consider, too, the Tohono O’odham of Arizona, who know no border since they regularly exchange visits with relatives a few steps away on the other side. The deeper causes of illegal immigration, says Hendricks, have to do with profound economic disparities. This is essential reading for any citizen concerned with border issues.

About Patricia Etter

Etter is a member of Arizona State University’s Emeritus College Council and serves on the Advisory Board for ASU’s University Club. She recently completed terms on the Board of Directors of the Oregon-California Trails Association and the Editorial Board of the Western Historical Quarterly. She introduced and edited the journal of William Goulding, published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, titled California Odyssey: An Overland Journey on Southern Trails, 1849. A favorite activity is talking books with the panelists of Southwest Books of the Year.

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