Books

or Search for by

Browsing Complete List - all :

Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

7th Sigma
By Steven Gould. Tor. 384 pp. $24.99.
In the near-future world created by Gould small, flying mechanical creatures which thrive in arid lands and consume metal have forced human beings to change how they live. Life is a return, of sorts, to a more primitive state that is, geographically speaking, the arid Southwest. Compulsive action that might keep you awake to find out what happens next.
[]

Albuquerque Turkey, The
By John Vorhaus. Crown. 255 pp. This is a note for the Albuquerque Turkey.. $23.00.
Grifters Radar and Allie leave L.A. for Santa Fe after their big con nets them a million dollars. Allie is determined to go straight, get a degree in something, and live a normal life. Radar finally agrees but before they can even begin on this new life plan Radar’s dad Woody shows up in drag. Woody is a world class con artist on the run and desperate for help. Radar figures they can make just one more big sting and then go straight! Smoothly written, this page-turner has some good laughs, some over-the-top characters, a dog named Boy and the multiple twisting plot to make any airplane ride fly by (excuse the pun). []

Alexandre Hogue: An American Visionary: Paintings and Works on Paper
By Susie Kalil. Texas A&M University Press. 232 pp. Index. $35.00.
Hogue (1898-1994) is best known for his Dust Bowl paintings. Kalil argues persuasively that his foresight, understanding of nature, individuality, and evolution of styles over seven decades make him a “profound” artist. This coffee table art book with beautiful colored reproductions is heavy on the analysis of art elements, not surprising from an author who is an art curator and contributor to professional art journals. I came away from this book with a deep respect for this artist’s energy, determination and accomplishments. []

Alfonso Grows Up on the Sheep Trail
By Cindy Shanks. Authorhouse. 37 pp. $18.99.
Top Pick
In this companion book to "Emily Walks the Sheep Trail" (Southwest Books of the Year Children’s Pick, 2010) Alfonso, a young burro in training to become a pack burro, is heading to the White Mountains with 2,000 sheep. As he travels through desert, forest, grass, wildflowers and aspen trees, Alfonso tells us about his experiences and what he sees along the trail, sharing his opinions and feelings as a young pack burro learning how to be a big guy. []

All Indians do not Live in Teepees (or Casinos)
By Catherine Robbins. University of Nebraska Press. 385 pp. Index. $26.95.
I cannot resist asserting that no (very, very few) Indians live in Tepees, though many do live in casinos. Robbins, a freelance journalist with nearly three decades of experience, attempts an overview of the contemporary scene. As she sees it, and using many examples from southwestern groups, there is a new rise in outlook and prosperity, though with the continuing prospect of discrimination and, in some aspects, more legal and political pressures. This is not intended as an in-depth look; rather, as a survey attempting to say “where things stand today”. []

Always Messing with Them Boys
By Jessica Lopez. West End Press. 93 pp. $13.95.
Top Pick
"Always Messing With Them Boys" is about love and lust, life and loss, motherhood and pain, and it won’t be read down at the nunnery. “Mama is a boozehound / she’ll spit poetry / and bourbon fire from her throat” (p. 3) --- she’s young, brash and a bit wicked. Lopez throws lightning bolts of words, page after page, speaking as one for many. My own favorites are “Cool Woman Albuquerque” and “My Mama Is a Poet.” In a world of black-and-white poetry, Lopez is pure neon. She is also a competitive Slam poet and can be seen slamming on YouTube. []

Amadito and the Hero Children: Amadito y los Ninos Heroes
By Enrique Lamadrid. University of New Mexico Press. 60 pp. $19.95.
Top Pick
This bilingual historical story starts with nine-year-old Amadito, who lives in New Mexico in 1918 during the deadly Spanish influenza epidemic, La Influenza Española. Amadito's mother vaccinates her younger children, using scabs gathered from the older children’s smallpox vaccinations. She then tells her children the story of their great-grandmother, who traveled around New Mexico with a group of children - Los Niños Heroes- to share their vaccinations against smallpox, the same way Amadito’s mother vaccinated her children. This is an excellent book for school-aged readers, based on actual events and information about illness, death and survival in the 1800s and early 1900s. []

American Wall, The: From the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico
By , Maurice Sherif. University of Texas Press. 224 pp. $150.00.
Weighing 18 pounds and featuring essays in three languages, Maurice Sheriff's two-volume The American Wall is as imposing as the border wall it depicts in monumental black-and-white photographs.
[]

Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story
By Steven L. Berk. Texas Tech University Press. 248 pp. $27.95.
A med school dean, Berk was kidnapped in his Amarillo, Texas home on a Sunday morning in 2005. This is a straightforward account of his brief (four hour) ordeal with thoughtful reflections on other aspects of his life and family, especially his two sons. []

Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs
By Debra Weyermann. Chicago Review Press. 386 pp. Index. $24.95.
Weyerman exposes the incredible criminal empire of Warren Jeffs, Chief of Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), currently serving a life sentence for raping two underage girls. The rape, incest, and seduction of young boys do not begin to reveal the damage done to the FDLS community, where there is no public education, property ownership, First Amendment rights, or respect for civil law, where young boys are turned loose in the outside world with no social, vocational or independent thinking skills. This shocking expose of a community that exists in our state is eye-opening and scary. Highly recommended. []

Arena Legacy: The Heritage of American Rodeo
By Richard C. Rattenbury. University of Oklahoma Press. 432 pp. Index. $65.00.
If one has not had the opportunity to tour the National Cowboy and Western History Museum in Oklahoma City, here is a chance to do it vicariously and savor the contents of a seven pound, 415-page book covering rodeo history. We learn that it honors America’s first indigenous and integrated sport. This included rodeo cowgirls who were among the first women in the United States to become professional athletes with “grace and grit.” It has grown from isolated contests of 100 years ago to a professional sport that is big business today with the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). Prescott, Arizona, claims the honor for inaugurating the first annual rodeo on July 4, 1888 now known as Prescott Frontier Days. There are hundreds of photographs of events and individuals who participated. Also included is a collection of boots, rodeo saddles, trophies, costumes, hats, works of art, sculpture, belts, buckles, posters, and a list of honorees. []

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
By William Ascarza, Peggy Pickering Larson. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. $21.99.
More than 200 images from ASDM’s archives with excellent, descriptive captions. Also available from Arcadia is a packet of “15 Historic Postcards” with images taken from this book.
[]
Here is a history in pictures of the world famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum from its inception in 1952 to the present day. Those of us who have visited over the years will note numerous changes from the early days when one could hold some of the animals to the present day when highly trained professionals are concerned with the ecology and geology of the desert, natural history of the animals, and educating the visitors about human, animal and plant life in the Sonoran desert. Highly trained docents stationed throughout the museum may show a barn owl, a tarantula, or describe the various animals to the visitors. Also included is a set of rare vintage –photograph postcards. []

Arizona: A Celebration of the Grand Canyon State
By Jim Turner. Gibbs Smith. 336 pp. Index. $40.00.
Top Pick
Recently retired as Outreach Historian at the Arizona Historical Society, Turner brings his decades of study and research on Arizona topics to this bravura--in the best sense of that word—effort. Ten topical chapters allow scope for sub-chapters that get at the details of events, and more than 300 illustrations show us how those people and events appeared to their contemporaries. A bibliography, divided by subjects, will allow readers to do their own searching, and the index is thorough and easily accessible. []
Turner has accomplished a seemingly impossible feat, to create a primer on Arizona, from its prehistory to its future, which makes a broad and complicated topic easily comprehensible to the uninitiated while including some information likely new to seasoned Arizonans, all the while creating a visual feast with beautiful photographs, mostly by the author, and arresting color reproductions of art by Maynard Dixon. This book, an antidote to ugly partisanship, made me proud to be a part of Arizona and it will probably have the same effect on you. []

Arizona: Scenic Wonders of the Grand Canyon State
By Kathleen Bryant, Caroline Cook, Jim Turner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 76 pp. $11.95.
Although meant for tourists, this grand photo review of Arizona is a fun refresher course for residents. The text is quick and the photos are large and new, reminding even the most entrenched city dweller of the state’s beauty, charm, and history. []

Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them
By Randy Christensen. Broadway Books. 270 pp. $24.99.
Phoenix doctor Christensen explains how he came to run a mobile clinic, a Winnebago to be specific, on the mean streets of Phoenix. He recounts incidents that most readers will be shocked to consider and describes how the stress impacts him, and everyone around him. Everyone who thinks that a flashy and growing economy solves all our concerns about living the good life should be required to read this. []

Assumption: A Novel
By Percival Everett. Graywolf Press. 272 pp. $15.00.
Labeled a novel by the publisher, Everett’s latest is in fact a novella and two long short stories, all three pieces concerning northern New Mexico sheriff’s deputy Ogden Walker. Smoothly written, these “police procedurals” will satisfy even sophisticated mystery readers with their nuanced approach to character development and logical storytelling. Terrific leisure reading!
[]

Astonishing Light: Conversations I Never had with Patrociño Barela
By E.A. Mares. University of New Mexico Press. 66 pp. $22.95.
Barela, who died nearly 50 years ago, is still renowned for the primitive (he was self-taught) wood carvings he produced throughout the latter half of his life while living in Taos. His glowing brown figures remind this reviewer somewhat of the sculptures of Lithuanian stone-carver Jacques Lipchitz, a contemporary of Barela, born earlier but who lived longer. Mares’ admiring conversations are amusing, personal and sometimes lighthearted. And between the two there are enough words and phrases in Spanish to cause us non-native speakers to search out our Spanish/English dictionaries. []

Before the End, After the Beginning
By Dagoberto Gilb. Grove Press. 194 pp. $24.00.
Small moments convey large meaning in these finely crafted stories set mainly in Austin, El Paso, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles. A stroke victim contemplaes the casual kindnesses of his caregivers, a small boy experiences the giddy joy of his birthday, and working-class men feel their way through a world circumscribed by race and class. Gilb pays artful homage to courage and resilience as he steers a deft course through the human heart. []

Begging for Vultures: New and Selected Poems: 1994-2009
By Lawrence Welsh. University of New Mexico Press. 198 pp. $21.95.
Lawrence Welsh writes poems about men with calloused hands and women who buy their own beer. Here 48 new poems join favored entries from Skull Highway, Rusted Steel and Bordertown Starts, and four of his other books. His poetry is spare, as if words are hard-earned dollar bills or swings of a blunt mallet. If you’ve driven a clunker, asked a barkeep if you could sweep out the place for a drink, or hitchhiked from Tucson to Tularosa, you’ve already met Welsh’s landscape of rusty wrecking yards, side-street juke joints, and dust-blown asphalt. In “Ramon’s” we find “a rolling door / a pot of joe / a crescent wrench / to turn” and in “Old Crow” we hear “… rhymes / dance in / their throats….” My favorite is “Coal Trane,” a tribute to “…a guy / snuffed out / last night / by smoothie Wilson / in the el paso / switching yard ….” The ragged edges and ironies cut 48 ways from Thursday. []

Bird on Fire: Lessons From the World's Least Sustainable City
By Andrew Ross. Oxford University Press. 312 pp. Index. $27.95.
Ross, a journalist with a dozen books to his credit, creates a verbal portrait of Phoenix, Arizona. In chapters with clever titles like “Gambling at the Water Table” and “The Sun Always Rises” he lays out what he has discovered from his research, plus interviews with more than 200 Phoenicians, including politicians, community leaders and “the man on the street.” That the arid Southwest is unsustainable from the point of view of available water will not shock many, but clever writing makes this book interesting, if depressing, reading. []
Ross, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, uses Phoenix as the "canary in the mine," arguing that if progress toward sustainable living can happen here it can happen anywhere. We all know the obstacles: urban sprawl, aridity, boomer mentality, and short-sighted politicians. But Ross finds oases of hope on farms, in inner city arts organizations, among border activists and neighborhood organizers, and on the Gila River Reservation, where tribe members have recaptured their water rights. The solutions to Phoenix's imposing problems, he suggests, lie not in technology but with social and political policies that empower the environmentally disenfranchised. This is an important book for lay readers and policymakers alike. []

Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico
By Barbara Hussey, Judy Liddell. Texas A&M University Press. 203 pp. Index. $24.95.
With this dandy guide to observing birds from the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque to Bosque del Apache on the Rio Grande, novices and experts alike can find and enjoy New Mexico’s marvelous birds. []

Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, and Little-Known Stories from History
By Tricia Martineau Wagner. TwoDot. 179 pp. Index. $14.95.
This fascinating account of the lives of ten black cowboys is thoroughly researched and clearly presented in an attempt to correct the assumption that all cowboys were white when in fact the percentage of black cowboys may be as high as 25%. Working cowboys, rodeo competitors, and even one cowboy who was a former rustler are covered, as well as Bose Ikard, the model for Josh Deets in Lonesome Dove. Highly recommended []

Black Thunder: An Ella Clah Novel
By Aimee Thurlo, David Thurlo. Forge. 352 pp. $24.99.
Black Thunder, an Ella Clah Novel by Aimee & David Thurlo.
Navajo Tribal Police Investigator Clah is at it again. The Thurlo team keeps finding new ways to bedevil her, including her junior partner Justine Goodluck. When dead and buried bodies begin to turn up on the eastern edge of the Big Rez, and just over the line in New Mexico as well, finding out what is going on takes some delicate negotiating between tribal police and New Mexico cops. As if work stress weren’t enough, back at home her teenage daughter is acting up (teenage, need we say more?) and her mother, often accused of being a bruja, seems to be stirring up trouble of her own. []

Blood Desert: Witnesses, 1820-1880
By Renny Golden. University of New Mexico Press. 76 pp. $16.95.
Poet Golden chooses carefully twenty-one events/incidents in New Mexico history and provides poetic images to illuminate life in the middle of the nineteenth century. Many of the major players are here: Lamy, Geronimo, Crook and Billy, but she doesn’t forget Sister Blandina, Padre Martinez and other figures well-known to the state and region. Exciting, provocative and satisfying are three adjectives that fit perfectly. []

Border Junkies: Addiction and Survival on the Streets of Juarez and El Paso
By Scott Comar. University of Texas Press. 214 pp. $24.95.
This is a first-person narrative of starting on drugs at 16 in the northeast and continuing as an addicted user, mostly on the El Paso/Juárez border, until 2003. Now working on a doctorate at UTEP, Comar’s narrative does not sensationalize his tale. He simply describes what life is like once you’ve given up pretense of being a normal kid/man and accepted life on the street. Making a living mostly by panhandling, his best moments were often simply finding a place to stay, sometimes for a few weeks but usually only a few days or just overnight. []

Border Lords, The
By T. Jefferson Parker. Dutton. 373 pp. $26.95.
ATF agent Charlie Hood confronts evil personified in this adrenaline-fueled story that sprawls across the U.S.-Mexico border, from Tijuana to Nogales, where a rogue undercover cop battles his own demons and Mexican drug cartels. The University of Arizona, Sabino Canyon, and Hotel Congress make cameo appearances as Parker flexes the narrative chops that have made him a three-time Edgar Award winner. []

Border Runs Through It, A: Journeys in Regional History and Folklore
By Jim Griffith. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 128 pp. $17.95.
Top Pick
Everyone calls him Big Jim (except perhaps for his diminutive wife, Loma). I know one person who calls him, affectionately, “Large James.” His presence in research and literature of the lore and folk-life of Southern Arizona and the entire Sonoran Desert region has been as large as the name. Griffith was host of a long-running series of vignettes on Tucson’s public TV station, KUAT. Here he takes those snippets about history, cultures, places (and place names), food and everythingelse human, and turn’s them into delightful short essays. The indefatigable David “Fitz” Fitzimmons provides visual spice with his trademark cartoons, including, on page 33, one of Big Jim himself. In case you weren’t paying attention, let it be known far and wide that Jim was one of nine recipients this year of the NEAs National Heritage Fellowship. []
Jim Griffith is like your favorite uncle who always took time to give you a wink and a good story, and maybe slip a little candy into your pocket during weddings or funerals. He is also a folklorist, a scholar who studies the culture, songs, arts, myths and tales of that vast nation of us common folks. As Jim puts it, “In the Great Store of human activity…, [folklorists] work in the Toy Department.” He regales us with Southwest water lore, ghosts and heroes, music and corridas, holidays and history, telling about Padre Kino bringing wheat and cattle to the Southwest, bringing a legacy of flour tortillas and beef tacos to our Sonora-Arizona menu. "A Border Runs Through It" should be at the top of any literary menu. []

Bronco Bill Gang, The
By John Tanner, Karen Tanner. University of Oklahoma Press. 320 pp. Index. $29.95.
The Tanners leave no stone unturned in their meticulously researched account of the careers of William E. "Bronco Bill" Walters and his gang of rustlers and train robbers in Arizona and New Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. Walters, who spent nearly two decades of his life behind bars, was hardly the stuff of legend, but legends grew up around him nonetheless. In patiently separating fact from fiction, the authors provide a revealing view of criminal activity and law enforcement in the waning days of the Wild West. []

Calexico! True Lives of the Borderlands
By Peter Laufer. University of Arizona Press. 211 pp. $19.95.

Peter Laufer examines issues inherent in life on the Mexican-United States border, as he travels through Calexico.
Canyon Crossing: Experiencing Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim
By Seth Muller. Grand Canyon Association. 259 pp. Index. $16.95.
Ever wonder what it is like to hike to Grand Canyon’s Phantom Ranch? Then shoulder Muller’s book as you would a backpack and make the trek with him. Along the way you’ll meet fellow hikers and park rangers, hear canyon stories, and feel the trail under your feet. A fun read for first-time hikers as much as trail-wise veterans. []

Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger
By Chuck Parsons. University of North Texas Press. 400 pp. Index. $29.95.
Parsons has combed through a mountain of manuscript and published sources to produce this meticulously detailed account of Hughes' nearly three-decade career, mostly in far West Texas, that earned him legendary status as one of the "four great Texas Ranger captains." Remarkably, Hughes survived repeated brushes with a colorful and dangerous assortment of outlaws and border bandits to die, apparently by his own hand, at age ninety-two, in 1947. An excellent assortment of rare photographs bring to life Hughes and his world. []

Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars
By Sylvia Longmire. Palgrave Macmillan. 242 pp. Index. $26.00.

Former senior intelligence analyst Sylvia Longmire explores the reasons behind the increasing threat to the United States posed by the Mexican drug cartels.
Case of the Indian Trader, The: Billy Malone and the National Park Service Investigation at Hubbell Trading Post
By Paul Berkowitz. University of New Mexico Press. 376 pp. Index. $34.95.
Berkowitz, a former criminal investigator and self-described "certified troublemaker," explains how he uncovered collusion and wrongdoing in National Park Service and Western National Parks Association efforts in the mid-2000s to bring criminal charges against a veteran Indian trader on the Navajo reservation. We are all heroes in our own stories, and Berkowitz pulls no punches in his crusade against the abuses he believes are rife in one of America's most respected federal agencies. In the process, he paints a revealing portrait of a whistleblower fighting against a system that tends toward shades of grey where Berkowitz sees only black and white. []
It is hard to believe that the National Park Service conducted a criminal investigation against Billy Malone, beloved and trusted Navajo Trader who was fired for what was considered his eccentric business practices running the historic Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona. After two years on what appeared to be a sloppy investigation, Paul Berkowitz, Criminal Investigator for the NPS tells his side of the story and writes about evidence of dirty politics and incompetence.The story is not yet finished. []

Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta: A Midnight Louie Mystery
By Carole Nelson Douglas. Forge. 380 pp. $24.99.
Readers of light mystery fiction may not realize that this is Midnight Louie’s 24th outing (plus a volume of shorter pieces)! Louie’s “helper” is the merely human PR person Temple Barr whose job, often, is to find killers and other bad guys so they won’t ruin the rep of her casino. Wisecracks, bad puns (are there any other kind?) and a fast paced storyline will make that lazy weekend zip past, just like that little metal ball on the roulette wheel.
[]

Chasing the Sun
By Kaki Warner. Berkley Trade. 404 pp. $15.00.
This last volume in the Blood Rose Trilogy, romantic novels about the Wilkins family, who ranch in New Mexico, opens in 1873. Youngest son Jack has left the ranch to travel the world, and unbeknownst to him has fathered a daughter in San Francisco. The mother, destitute, but with an offer to train as an opera star, goes to New Mexico to seek help from the Wilkins family. Jack shows up and love blossoms against a backdrop of the beauty and challenges of ranch life and family relationships. The characters are well developed and the love of the land comes through. Although this is not my favorite genre, romance fans will enjoy this book. []

Cheery: The True Adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog
By Elizabeth W. Davidson. Five Star Publications. 39 pp. $15.95.
Top Pick
Cheery is a Chiricahua Leopard Frog living in a pond in the Arizona mountains. His species is threatened with extinction by crayfish, bullfrogs and disease and many of his friends don’t survive. Luckily, Cheery is rescued by 'zoo people' who take him to a tank full of other leopard frogs and care for him until he can be taken back to a pond with his friends and new tadpoles. This is an informative short story for early grade readers. I felt happy and relieved that the 'zoo people' are watching out for the best interests of this species, so leopard frogs can continue propagating. []

Choke Hold
By Christina Faust. Hard Case Crime. 251 pp. $19.95.

When her former friend and porn co-star is murdered, Angel Dare travels the deserts of Arizona, Mexico and Nevada in search of her friend’s son.
Cinema Southwest: An Illustrated Guide to the Movies and Their Locations
By John A. Murray. Canyonlands Natural History Association. 195 pp. Index. $22.95.
What makes this guide special is its organization by location, so western movie buffs can see the areas where favorite films were made. This book also inspires one to watch classic westerns. Unfortunately this second edition of the 2000 publication has added only 30 pages of new films done in the interim, again organized by location but as an added section at the end rather than integrated with the selections from the earlier edition. Most of the appendices have not been changed, although some lists, notably the contact information for film contacts, have been updated. This is a fascinating reference book, but if you have the first edition you may not need the new one. []

Coffin Man: A Charlie Moon Mystery
By James Doss. Minotaur Books. 340 pp. $25.99.
Charlie’s Aunt Daisy has lost her ability to see into the world-after-death and she’s fit to be tied! But Charlie(remember, he’s now a rancher but often roped into helping the sheriff) has more personal mysteries to solve, including the disappearance of Wanda Naranjo’s pregnant daughter. Doss writes like an old, old friend telling us a story, with plenty of asides to make sure we understand what’s going on. Smoothly written. []
Even though this is supposed to be a spoof, I found it annoying. What is funny about a pregnant teenager (whose baby has five possible fathers) being accidentally killed by a dim witted handyman, who buries her in a veteran’s grave, then inadvertently kills his best buddy, the cemetery custodian? Or the pregnant girl’s mother killing her ex-boyfriend and escaping scot-free? The asides by the narrator are irritating and the descriptions often forced. Will the term “Papago-Ute orphan” to describe Charlie’s niece sit play well on the reservation? That aside, I loved the characterizations of ancient shaman Aunt Daisy and Charlie Moon himself. []

Colores de la Vida: Mexican Folk Art Colors in English and Spanish
By Cynthia Weill. Cinco Puntos Press. $14.95.
Another Cynthia Weil folk art wood carving picture book. This bilingual book shows 14 basic colors in English and Spanish.
[]

Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants
By Carolyn Niethammer. University of Arizona Press. 194 pp. Index. $19.95.
A veteran in the field of producing cookbooks, Niethammer’s latest provides a huge variety of recipes; more than a dozen, for example, from prickly pear plants. She devotes an entire chapter to uses of wild plants as flavorings and another for wild greens. A plus for newcomers to desert cooking is the addition to each section of a discussion of general rules for collecting, preparing and storing plant parts you intend to use. []

Cow Country Cooking: Recipes and Tales from Northern Arizona's Historic Ranches
By Kathy McCraine. Prescott, AZ: Kathy McCraine. 192 pp. Index. $29.99.
Top Pick
This may be the first cookbook I’ve ever read from cover to cover, but its mix of kitchens, horses, cooks and recipes lassoed and hogtied me. I couldn’t get away from it. Authentic recipes, ranging from camp corn to chuck wagon goulash, from eggs Dijon to gingerbread with lemon sauce, can be prepared in a chuck wagon, cow camp, or ranch house. They’re designed to fill up hungry cowhands but tasty enough to delight picky guests. My favorite story was told by a cowboy-cook named Spider Dailey, who one ferociously cold winter had to sleep each night with his sourdough starter to keep it warm so it wouldn’t die. The book features paintings by Mark Kohler and splendid color photos of prepared dishes, cooks, and horses. McCraine and her husband ranch north of Prescott. This book is the real McCoy. []
Mouth-watering recipes, from appetizers to desserts, are the least of this inspired book. McCraine, a native Arizona rancher, journalist, photographer and cooking aficionado, was motivated to complete this dreamed-of project by Mark Kohler’s offer to paint accompanying watercolors. Interspersed among text about round-ups, branding and cookery are recipes, colored photos, paintings with commentary by Kohler, and humorous country-cooking anecdotes in the sidebars. Appealing art, photography, history, humor, clear and readable text, and author-tested recipes, all add up to a paean to northern Arizona ranch life, past and present. []

Cowboy's Guide to Growing Up Right, A
By Slim Randles. Rio Grande Books. 61 pp. $8.95.
He lives in Albuquerque but his mini-essays appear in a syndicated column titled “Home Country” that runs in many newspapers nationwide. Not southwestern per se, his words touch on subjects we can all feel are part of our lives and, like Aesop, each column (there are 15 reprinted here) has a clearly stated moral. For example, one column titled “Good Grooming, the Silent Secret” concludes with this: “Even dirty politicians wash themselves to get votes.” []

Cowgirl and Her Horse, A
By Jean Ekman Adams. Rio Chico. $15.95.
Top Pick
“There are so many things a cowgirl has to do for her horse. It’s hard to keep them all straight.” So opens this sweet picture book about a small pink pig and her horse. A cowgirl has to go grocery shopping for her horse, hose him off in the kiddie pool, clean his room, wash his socks, bring him cupcakes for his birthday…she is an exhausted little pig! But then it’s all worthwhile, when her horse takes her on rides up mountains and down trails to see rainbows. []

Crazy From the Heat: A Chronicle of Twenty Years in the Big Bend
By James Evans. University of Texas Press. 192 pp. $55.00.
In a certain mood this reviewer might say, of Evans’s title, that it should be “Crazy like a Fox” as his images zig and zag among subjects and styles and techniques. The range of his photographs is startling; from six young Hispanic males knee deep in water, to a Mexican hognose snake with its long shadow on a stark white background, to a double-foldout of a desert scene that is surely West Texas but could as easily be Arizona. Sprinkle in a few nudes (including one, extremely pregnant, after a mud bath) and some time-lapse shots of night sky and, finally, the adjective that I settle on to describe this collection is stunning! []
This is truly an art book of huge dimensions, with the Big Bend area of Texas the subject. One can find glorious vistas that stretch forever at any time of day or night, both in color and black and white; yards and yards of ocotillo stretching across the desert, fine portraits of the people of Big Bend, and every so often, when turning a page, watch out for a life-sized horned lizard, a desert tarantula, or a checkered garter snaking across the pages. It is a magnificent production and full of surprises. []

Crime Buff's Guide to Outlaw Texas, The
By Ron Franscell. Globe Pequot Press. 221 pp. Index. $16.95.
It’s true that most of Texas is outside our coverage of the desert Southwest, but it is hard to resist noting a book that devotes an entire chapter to Texas’ (the world’s?) most noted outlaw couple, Bonnie & Clyde! And there is an chapter devoted to West Texas which locates, among others, both Judge Roy Bean’s and Charles Goodnight’s graves. For each of more than 150 sites (graves, where robberies occurred, etc.) Franscell gives us the GPS coordinate so we can “see” it on our computer screen from a satellite even if it is on private land not open to the public. []

Cross Over Water: A Novel
By Richard Yanez. University of Nevada Press. 204 pp. $22.00.
Called “Ruly” as a young man, even by his family, Raul Luis Cruz becomes Rauluis, when college-bound Elena comes into, and goes out of, his life. Capturing perfectly the El Paso setting Yañez gives us a coming-of-age portrait that is tender without being mawkish and clear-eyed without being dust-dry. Not written as a narrative by Raul, still the language is simple and entirely believable, as if he, grocery clerk and barely high school graduate, were telling it himself. []

Crossing Borders: Personal Essays
By Sergio Troncoso. Arte Publico Press. 201 pp. $16.95.
They are not southwestern, per se, but Troncoso’s school years in El Paso form a constant backdrop to these sixteen essays. Always with an eye, or perhaps a mind, tuned to those things which are most real in our lives, his essays, such as “The Father Is in the Details”, speak to us all.
[]

Dancing with Death: The True Story of a Glamorous Showgirl, Her Wealthy Husband, and a Horrifying Murder
By Shanna Hogan. St. Martin's paperbacks. 342 pp. $7.99.
The author, a true crime reporter, tells the unbelievable story of Marjorie Orbin, a beautiful, talented, charismatic, hardworking woman, married to a wealthy Phoenix art dealer, mother of a much-loved son, and a partner in 10 year seemingly happy marriage, who is serving a life sentence for killing her husband, freezing him, hacking him to bits and dropping him in a garbage bag in the desert. Only as the investigation unfolded did locals learn she had been married six times, previously worked as a stripper, and was having a passionate affair with a workout friend. Clearly researched and crisply written, this book proves once again the truth can be stranger than fiction. []

David and Lee Roy: A Vietnam Story
By David L. Nelson, Randolph B. Schiffer. Texas Tech University Press. 255 pp. $29.95.
If you are old enough to remember his name, a front cover quote by Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret.), will start your love-it-or-hate-it juices flowing even before you begin to read about two West Texas boys; one of whom lived to tell their story. []

Day of the Dead
By Stevie Mack, Kitty WIlliams. Gibbs Smith. 128 pp. $19.99.
This colorful, square-format volume is a grabbag, in the very best sense of that term. Colorful, full-page illustrations throughout remind us our southwestern events during this mid-October celebration and its associated folk art, usually including skeletons. []

Death Clouds on Mount Baldy
By Cathy Hufault. Arizona Mountain Publications. 271 pp. $22.95.
Top Pick
Detailed and well-written account of the deaths of Boy Scouts on Mt. Baldy in the Santa Rita mountains south of Tucson more than 50 years ago. Hufault’s brother was one of six scouts on a mid-November overnight hike; three, including her brother, survived the unpredicted blizzard. Hufault’s bibliography lists more than 100 people interviewed, many of whom were directly involved in massive search by air, horseback, snowshoe and ski.
[]
A freak snowstorm trapped Boy Scouts near a mountain summit in 1958, and the massive search for the lost boys riveted southern Arizona for weeks. Five decades later we finally hear the rest of the story as well as untold personal details of this spellbinding tale, now ably written by the sister of one of the boys. This haunting story will touch your heart forever, as it has mine and everyone else who read the headlines that fateful day. This one should go to the top of your reading stack. []

Deep Trails in the Old West: A Frontier Memoir
By Frank Clifford. University of Oklahoma Press. 317 pp. Index. $29.95.
Frank Clifford is just one of the many aliases used by transplanted Englishman John Wightman (aka John Francis "Frank" Wallace) as he drifted from ranch to ranch in New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle in the 1870s and 1880s before settling in Emporia, Kansas, where he dictated this memoir in the early 1940s. Clifford's involvement in the Colfax County War and his acquaintance with Clay Allison, Charlie Siringo, and Billy the Kid will capture the attention of Old West buffs, but the real treasures lie in his recollection of life and customs on the vanished frontier. This unassuming book offers a rare glimpse of the West as it was and the opportunities it afforded men to reinvent themselves. []

Desert Night, Desert Day
By Anthony Fredericks. Rio Chico. $15.95.
Top Pick
This is a fun, rhyming picture book that begins with desert creatures out in the desert moonlight and then moves into a daytime desert story. Each double-page spread displays a brightly-colored illustration of a desert animal, along with brief descriptive rhymes: “Slipping, sliding, watching, gliding – Banded king snake darting, hiding,” is accompanied by a picture of a colorful king snake hiding under a ledge. Each page includes a hidden image of the animal that will be featured on the next page, and a little quail hides on every page. Kids who like the I Spy series will especially enjoy this title. []

Desert Towers: Fat Cat Summits and Kitty Litter Rock
By Steve Bartlett. Sharp End Publishing. 350 pp. $49.95.
Top Pick
"Desert Towers" is a personal, passionate history of rock climbing on the Colorado Plateau, especially the sheer towers with names like Ship Rock, Pixie Stick, Tooth Rock, Fickle Finger and The Oracle. It’s filled with great photographs and first-hand essays about wild climbs and daring climbers, many of them women. You’ll never again see sandstone spires and vertical cliffs as unscalable—imagine Spiderman inching up the side of a red-rock Washington Monument. Delightful, funny and spirited, this is one of the best climbing books ever. []
What a beautiful labor of love this history of tower climbing in the desert Southwest is. The author, who himself spent more than 20 years in such climbs, conveys a sense of the beauty, the unique challenges, the teamwork, and the positive addictiveness of this sport. A clear map opposite the table of contents shows the towers discussed. With an accessible chronological format, beautiful color photographs, a large coffee table format, and firsthand accounts by some of the climbers, this is a book to be savored not only by outdoorsmen but everyone. []

Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860-2009
By Philip VanderMeer. University of New Mexico Press. 478 pp. Index. $39.95.
Top Pick
Unlike Topsy in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," Phoenix didn't just grow. In this impressive study, ASU history professor VanderMeer examines the politics and economics of city-building in the Salt River Valley, showing how business, political, and cultural leaders first carved out a modern city in the desert and then, after WWII, devised strategies that transformed Phoenix into a sprawling metropolis. By taking the long view, VanderMeer not only identifies the factors that make Phoenix unique, but also draws useful comparisons and crucial distinctions with other urban centers in the West and across the United States. This is essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century urban America. []

Diagnosis Death
By Richard Mabry. Abingdon Press. 292 pp. $13.99.
What reviewers often call a “page-turner,” this smoothly written medical thriller is set somewhere in Texas. It's the third in a series by Mabry, a retired M.D., who obviously knows the workings of doctors and hospitals. []
The author is a retired doctor and medical school professor and his knowledge of medical issues and patients is more interesting than the mystery itself. As if completing her residency, being a new widow, being Hispanic in Texas, and starting a new practice in a small town are not challenges enough, Elena has been set up by two different evildoers who want her to fail. It was hard for me to relate to the vindictiveness, the coincidences, the romance, and the religious solutions, but it did keep me turning the pages. []

Dine Tah: My Reservation Days, 1923-1939
By Alwin J. Girdner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 356 pp. $15.95.
Alwin Girdner’s grandfather, H. A. Holcomb of the Gospel Missionary Union, founded Immanuel Mission in 1924 in a remote area of the Navajo Reservation known as the Sweetwater District. Alwin lived here with his family until he was sixteen, eventually attending the University of Arizona and many years later settling in Albuquerque. This lovely story is full of vignettes about his days on the reservation, and the Native people, while gently weaving in interesting facts of Navajo history. He has consulted relatives’ diaries and filled the book with rare photographs of life on the reservation which are carefully preserved in Northern Arizona’s Cline Library. []

Don't Shoot the Gentile
By James C. Work. University of Oklahoma Press. 145 pp. $19.95.
In the mid-1960s, Work set off from Colorado with his freshly minted master's degree to teach English, Journalism, and whatever else was needed at the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City. As the saying goes, much hilarity ensued. In this wry and warm-hearted memoir, he recalls the small triumphs and challenges of his first job, somehow made more memorable by the realization that he was the token gentile in an overwhelmingly Mormon town. Readers expecting insights into LDS religion and belief may come away disappointed. The real reward here is Work's portrait of a small, parochial world where friendship transcends religous and cultural divides and where community trumps everything. []

Double Prey
By Steven F. Havill. Poisoned Pen Press. 306 pp. $14.95.
Fictional Posadas County New Mexico seems quite real in Havill’s on-going series, of which this is #17. Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman (she replaced her long-time boss Bill Gastner a few novels ago) has a full life; too full, sometimes, with growing boys and a professional spouse. And then there are the events and mysteries of her job that include the bones of a man and an animal in a den or small cave in the wall of an arroyo, only discovered because it is the scene of the death of a young neighbor in an ATV "accident". Havill is an expert in writing police procedurals, and he’s also an expert when it comes to firearms, so you know he gets the details right. []

Dreaming in English
By Laura Fitzgerald. NAL Trade. 418 pp. $15.00.
Set, partially in Las Vegas and then in Tucson, this tale of romance is not dependent on setting. The narrator, Iranian Tamila Soroush, immigrates to the U.S. in search of a husband so she will not be deported in three months when her tourist visa becomes invalid. She finds Ike, or rather he finds her, and, with a few misadventures, it looks like they’ll live happily ever after.
[]

Drug Lord: The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin: A True Story
By Terrence E. Poppa. Cinco Puntos Press. 346 pp. Index. $16.95.
In his preface, writer Charles Bowden recalls paying fifty dollars in the 1990s for a used copy of this mesmerizing biography of border drug lord Pablo Acosta. Readers of this affordable reissue (it has previously been reprinted in both Spanish and English) will understand why. Two decades later, it is still one of the most readable and revelatory books on drug operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to Bowden's preface, the third edition includes a new introduction and epilogue in which the author, a former reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post, explains how the book came to be and reflects on how and why Acosta's heyday now seems like a much simpler time in the Mexican drug wars. []

Drumbeats From Mescalero: Conversations with Apache Elders, Warriors, and Horseholders
By Marian Kelley, H. Henrietta Stockel. Texas A&M University Press. 188 pp. Index. $29.95.
Ethnographer, Henrietta Stockel with the assistance of Marian D. Kelley, interviewed twelve members of the Mescalero Apache tribe in New Mexico. Here is a remarkable collection of reminiscences, personal opinions, and current problems, and recommendations for the future of the tribe’s values and culture. Stockel limited her respondents to twelve out of regard for the twelve poles that support the sacred tipi annual puberty rites are held. In spite of the many years of battles, dislocation, relocation, and battles with the U. S. Government, the substance of the interviews spelled hope for the future of the 4,000 members of the tribe. []

Dry River: Stories of Life, Death, and Redemption on the Santa Cruz
By Ken Lamberton. University of Arizona Press. 269 pp. Index. $24.95.
Good writers seize opportunity where they find it. In this case, award-winning essayist Ken Lamberton uses his family’s involvement with the Tucson Audubon Society’s Santa Cruz River Habitat Project to explore the historic, cultural, environmental and personal impact of the desert watershed. On foot and horseback, often in the company of his wife and one or more of his daughters, he moves northward from the river’s headwaters in Mexico to its confluence with the Gila north of Tucson. Taken together, his lyrical ruminations trace a string of life stretching through the arid landscape and offering redemption for those who understand its past, present, and future. This is an elegant and important book from one of southern Arizona’s most gifted writers. []
Over seven years, Ken Lamberton hiked the two-hundred mile length of the historic river beginning with its source in the San Rafael Valley of Arizona and ending when it meets the Gila River near the tiny hamlet of Santa Cruz on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Lamberton covered those miles at various times with his wife or three daughters now and then including vignettes their adventures and the people they met. He has artfully recreated his journey with ecological and geological observations noting change over the centuries nor has he neglected history as it evolved along the Santa Cruz. []

Eat Mesquite! A Cookbook
By Desert Harvesters . Desert Harvesters. $19.95.
More than a cookbook, this short work promotes mesquite as the most important food since soy to prevent world hunger, touts its medicinal qualities, and gives directions for harvesting, storing, and milling these pods, as well as other southern Arizona native seeds and products. The recipes are divided by categories, such as breakfast or dessert; and appear to use common ingredients, although most pantries would not have the ironwood seeds or wolfberries called for in Sonoran granola. The recipes are clearly printed and easily understood. This book should interest adventurous cooks and those concerned with using what we have and wasting not, which should be all of us. []

Education Beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929
By Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert. University of Nebraska Press. 272 pp. Index. $40.00.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the U.S. Government forced thousands of Hopi children into federally funded off reservation boarding schools. The author does not neglect the horror stories as agents searched Hopi houses to grab and send resisting children off to school. The story of Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, was in the main, a success story. It took time for adjustment by both the teachers and the students who at first resisted acculturation, but soon learned to balance Hopi culture with new skills. Thus on return home they could use new skills along with knowledge of politics and economics to help their people on the Mesas. The author has leaned heavily on Sherman Institute records in the National Archives in addition to collections in the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Kykiotsmovi, Arizona. An addition of a map of the Hopi Mesas and photographs of activities at Sherman Institute would have been welcomed. []

Elvis Romero and Fiesta De Santa Fe: Featuring Zozobra's Great Escape
By Andrew Leo Lovato. Museum of New Mexico Press. 76 pp. $22.50.
Elvis Romero and his cousins are around 10 years old in 1964 in Santa Fe. The adults there are building a large puppet called, ZoZobra which will be burned to symbolize good vs. evil.
The kids feel bad that Zozobra will be burned so they kidnap the puppet and hide him in the forest. Later Elvis confesses to the priest and decides to return the puppet.
The ending wraps up very nicely with everyone happy with the outcome. []

Empire: Poems
By , Xochiquetzal Candelaria. University of Arizona Press. 80 pp. $15.95.
Don’t take this book with you on the bus or to the donut shop. Find a quiet, private spot where you can read these poems by Xochiquetzal Candelaria aloud. Her ear for words is spot on. Southwest, Mexico, Pancho Villa, mariachis, lovers, children, and childhood ring true, with titles like “Combustion,” “Caught in the Eye of the Sun,” and “Quixote.” My own favorite is “The Only Thing I Imagine Luz Villa Admires About Her Husband’s Gun---.” Candelaria brings us warm, sensitive poems evoking heritage and memory of things true. []
After reading just one of these poems you might want to jump up and shout hooray, for these are spectacular lines giving us images that precisely match imagination and tell-all while telling little. Then you know that “hooray” is too harsh, even though true, and you search your mind for the perfect word that will tell others, no, demand of others “Read this; you must!” []

End of Days
By Robert Lee Gleason. Forge. 416 pp. $24.99.
The title means the end of the world in nuclear holocaust. One central character has built a nuclear blast-proof safety house she calls “the Citadel” to insure the survival of humans when the inevitable occurs. Naturally it is located in that thinly populated area we know as the Sonoran Desert. []

Enduring Legacies: Ethnic Histories and Cultures of Colorado
By Arturo J. Aldama. University Press of Colorado. 421 pp. Index. $75.00.
This collection of 21 papers, plus a substantial introductory essay, provides some excellent analyses of events and/or time periods in Colorado history. From a geographical point of view papers such as “Pictorial Narratives of San Luis, Colorado”, “Music of Colorado and New Mexico’s Rio Grande”, and “Latina Education and Life in Rural Southern Colorado, 1920-1945" contain much that relates directly to “our” Southwest. Good research here. []
The complete human history of Colorado is more diverse and interesting than we have been taught, so here more than two dozen experts broaden the narrative and reveal the roles of ethnic groups and diverse cultures in the state’s accomplishments. []

Eugene B. Adkins Collection, The
By Jane Aebersold, Christina Burke, James Peck, B. Byron Price . University of Oklahoma Press . 304 pp. Index. $60.00.
Here is a museum collection in a book and rather than travel to Oklahoma to tour the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Philbrook Museum of Art, this is your opportunity. This is a big book, both in size and in content and includes stunning color images of the best in American Indian pottery, baskets, jewelry, carving, and sculpture collected over forty years by Eugene B. Adkins. In addition, paintings and photographs by distinguished non-Natives are included and in total, honor the creativity of Southwestern artists. Seven noted art historians have contributed expertise for a reader’s further enjoyment.

[]
This beautifully produced catalogue highlights treasures from the more than 3,300-item collection of the late Tulsa investor and real estate tycoon housed at the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and at the Philbrook Musuem of Art. The scope of Adkins' four decades of collecting is as eye-popping as his discerning taste, from southwestern painting and photography to Native American pottery, jewelry, and basketry. A noted expert introduces each section, placing its contents in historical, cultural, and artistic perspective. A work of art in its own right, "The Eugene B. Adkins Collection" is a tribute to one man's vision as well as an informative introduction to Arizona and New Mexico's native and non-native art and artists. []

Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife
By Philip Fradkin. University of California Press. 279 pp. Index. $24.95.
It is a measure of our boundless thirst for myth and romance that the seventy-seventh anniversary of Ruess's disappearance in the southwestern canyonlands has produced two biographies of the twenty-year-old artist and wilderness adventurer. Where David Roberts's "Finding Everett Ruess" is a highly personal story of the author's fascination with his subject, Frandkin takes a more measured and scholarly approach, placing Ruess with the context of his family upbringing and tracing the growth of his post mortem popularity, largely through the efforts of Wallace Stegner and Ed Abbey. In a fascinating final chapter, Fradkin explores how the media attention around the purported discovery of Ruess's remains in 2008 tested the boundaries of journalistic ethics and exposed the limitations of forensic science. []

Fatal Error
By Judith A. Jance. Simon & Schuster. 353 pp. $29.99.
Ali Reynolds (Jance fans will remember her from three previous mysteries) is attending the Arizona Police Academy while pulling a full shift at her parents' restaurant. Life is hectic but not totally crazy until an old friend from her California days shows up in desperate need of help. The title has more than one meaging, of course, and when it happens to your computer...
[]

Father Kino's Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today
By Jacqueline Soule. Tierra del Sol Institute. 112 pp. Index. $14.95.
The author writes about the herbs available in Pimería Alta during the time of Father Kino and specifically for those interested in cultivating them today. Included are suggestions for preserving, and uses in cooking; in the home, such as air freshener, even toothpaste; and for the body, exfoliants, masks, or bath salts. []

Feast Day of Fools: A Novel
By James Lee Burke. Simon & Schuster. 463 pp. $26.99.
Demons haunt the dreams of even the righteous in Burke's latest adrenaline-filled novel set in the West Texas borderlands. A free-for-all search for a missing defense contractor sets in motion a modern-day morality play that plunges aging Sheriff Hackberry Holland into a violent world that challenges traditional concepts of good and evil, and where flawed human beings pay a high price for redemption. The cast of fools includes a mestizo coyote, a border vigilante, a Russian mobster, and Preacher Jack Collins, the submachine-gun toting serial killer from The Rain Gods. Burke once again demonstrates his mastery of style and form as he herds his cast of broken individuals (including a madonna figure in the guise of a Chinese ex-CIA operative) through a forest of plot twists to a dramatic climax that suggests he has much more in store for readers. []

Fence, The: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
By Robert Lee Maril. Texas Tech University Press. 368 pp. Index. $29.95.
Maril, a sociologist and long-time student of border issues, draws on extensive research, personal experience, and interviews to unravel the mind-boggling complexities of what many Americans, politicians in particular, consider a simple and effective method of securing the U.S.-Mexico boundary. Setting aside the larger question of whether good fences do in fact make good neighbors, Maril paints a disturbing picture of arrogance, incompetence, greed, stultifying bureaucracy, and above all blatant disregard of economic, political, geographic, and cultural reality that impedes rather than promotes border security. Maril doesn't profess to have all the answers, but he nonetheless performs an important service by simply posing the right questions. []
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a one-size-fits-all agency, but America’s southern borderland is a very complicated mix of people, geography, politics, economics, ecology, and history, so it’s no wonder that the DHS border fence has become a square peg in a round hole. Then if you throw in politicians who want to campaign on the issue of border security and contractors who smell gravy, you can see that the problem becomes a career with no real solution in sight. In a case built on hundreds of interviews from aliens, agents, residents, “experts,” and politicians, Maril looks at all of the many sides of the perplexing issues. Maril is a genuine expert on the subject, having testified before congress and others, and his appreciation of human stories is at once compassionate and insightful. Best book to date on the paradoxes and contradictions of border security and our Great Wall of America. If you read any of the book, hit “A Modest Proposal” and repeat after Maril: “We risk a foolishness of both monumental proportions and monumental consequences” at enormous cost. []

Field Man: Life as a Desert Archaeologist
By Julian D. Hayden. University of Arizona Press. 352 pp. Index. $45.00.
A few of the words that come to mind while reading this book--remarkable, amazing, unique and unforgettable—describe Julian Hayden, who was all of these, and much, much more. Self-taught, he made archaeological discoveries and propounded theories unrecognized and sneered at by the professional community. That’s what his weekends were dedicated to; on weekdays he and his crews trenched sewer lines and installed septic tanks in Tucson. Then he “discovered” the Pinacates (that clump of desert rock due south in Sonora) and spent, by his estimate, 160 weekends exploring them and thinking about the implications of the artifacts found there. Editors Broyles and Boyer let him speak for himself, no questions, no interruptions, and boy does he say what is on his mind! []
There was no one like Julian Hayden who was known as a beloved curmudgeon and an opinionated desert rat who did not mince his words as he told his life’s story to Bill Broyles and Diane E. Boyer. He had no advanced degrees or formal training, yet over the years he taught himself silversmithing receiving a Guggenheim award for his efforts, ran a Civilian Conservation Corps crew, helped build the Yuma airfield, ran Hayden Company Excavation Service. Early on he worked for his father, a Harvard trained archaeologist who took Julian along as a laborer to Pueblo Grande and other sites. Ultimately, Hayden became a renowned archaeologist himself and is particularly known for his work in the Sierra Pinacate with an extensive list of publications. Thus began his life-long study and interest in Southwestern cultural property. The book is a treat to both read and at the same time browse a fine collection of photographs. []

Finding Everett Ruess: The Remarkable Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer
By Jon Krakauer, David Roberts. Broadway Books. 400 pp. $25.00.
Reuss' disappearance in the southern Utah Canyonlands almost eighty years ago is one of the Southwest's enduring mysteries. Roberts draws on extensive archival research, interviews, and his own backcountry exploration to draw an intimate portrait of Ruess, the boy (he was only twenty years old when he vanished) and the artist whose ecstatic nature writings have been hailed as visionary by the likes of Wallace Stegner and Ed Abbey. Equally intriguing is Roberts' examination of the various theories advanced to explain what may have happened to Reuss and the account of his personal involvement with the recent, much-publicized, discovery of a body thought to be Reuss' (it wasn't). This spellbinding book, with its twists and turns and exotic cast of characters, is as readable as it is important to anyone searching for insight into a fascinating individual mesmerized by the call of the wild. []

Finding Ghosts in Phoenix
By Katie Mullaly. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 159 pp. Index. $14.99.
According to the Wailing Bansidhe Investigations, there is plenty of paranormal activity in Phoenix. Using ESP, EMF detectors (a device that finds electromagnetic fields), and digital cameras, this group has “had an interest in ghosts since passing through the birth canal (p. 15). They have had spine-tingling experiences at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, discovered ghosts at the San Carlos Hotel, Monti’s La Casa Vieja, and more. Contained are instructions for those who might be interested in ghost hunting, a glossary, and photographs, all poured forth in the manner of a friendly chat. []

Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
By Philip Connors. Ecco. 246 pp. $24.99.
Top Pick
Ten years ago Connors left an editing job with the "Wall Street Journal" to replace a friend who worked as a fire lookout in the Gila Wilderness. Thus began his love affair with the countryside, the solitude, the challenge and the responsibility of the job. This book notes the activities of the 2009 season in chapters divided by month, April through August, but is much more than a mere record: it is also a Thoreau-like philosophic contemplation; a history of fire philosophy, laced with reminiscences of celebrities who were lookouts; a social criticism on modern life; and, a personal biography, all clearly and wryly written. Outstanding! []

First Grave on the Right
By Darynda Jones. St. Martin's Press. 310 pp. $22.99.
Her name is Charley Davidson. She’s a part-time private investigator and she is being haunted by ghosts, one of whom seems both more alive and more sexy than her miserable body can tolerate. The setting, not particularly important here, is Albuquerque. []

Forced to Abandon Our Fields: The 1914 Clay Southworth Gila River Pima Interviews
By David H. DeJong. University of Utah Press. 177 pp. Index. $34.95.
In 1900 Pima Indian farmers south of Phoenix were very successful using a combination of traditional and modern methods. They understood irrigation, for after all they had descended from the Hohokam who without modern machinery had built the amazing canal system that once spread across the Salt River Valley. But, by 1914 their fields were shambles and their crops impoverished because settlers upstream had taken their water. The injustice is that the federal government did not defend them while politicians rewrote water laws to disadvantage the Pimas. This book ably tells that story along with publishing eloquent interviews conducted with the farmers themselves by an irrigation engineer, Clay Stallworth. Native farmers who once raised and sold wheat, corn, melons, pumpkins, beans, lima beans, peas, cotton, and tobacco were reduced to selling firewood from dying mesquite trees. []

Fort Bayard Story, The: 1866-1899
By Andrea Jaquez, Neta Pope. Andrea Jaquez. 389 pp. Index. $30.00.
Military historians and buffs should applaud the publication of this encyclopedic history of the frontier army post near Silver City, New Mexico. Drawing on an immense body of archival and printed materials, the authors seemingly leave no stone unturned as they describe construction by African American infantrymen in the aftermath of the Civil War and the important role the garrison played in protecting settlers against incursions by Victorio, Geronimo, and other legendary Apache leaders. Perhaps most important, by focusing on intriguing characters and the minutia of military duty, they bring to life the drudgery, hardship, and occasional joys of soldier life. This book is meticulously researched and graced by hundreds of rare and fascinating photographs. []

Fourth Wife, The: Polygamy, Love, & Revolution
By Carolyn O'Bagy Davis. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 205 pp. $14.95.
Utah-born Mormon Julia Sarah Abegg Call, 1885-1937, was the polygamous fourth wife of Anson Bowen Call, rancher, farmer, missionary and civic leader, mostly in Mexico. This is a sympathetic account of a self-effacing woman who bore thirteen children, lived through the lengthy and dangerous Mexican Revolution, constantly moving back and forth from Tucson (where her mother lived) and Mexico to attempt to escape danger, having to rebuild and begin again, and seeming to accept her status as inferior to other wives. Although I found all the family details tiresome and certainly found the woman herself irritating (she told her eldest daughter, “I would rather bury you, . . .never see you again, than to have your faith buried with an outsider” [gentile], this is a unique slice of history. []

Fracture
By Susan Cummins Miller. Texas Tech University Press. 280 pp. $24.95.
Frankie McFarlane, a geologist who often gets involved in crime scenes (the fifth in a series), partners with fiancé Philo Dain, private investigator, when his uncle Derek, a Tucson developer, finds his wife tortured and murdered. The non-stop action moves from Tucson to the Bay area, where family secrets, past history and sinister plots are revealed. This is a page-turner with the added interest of local Tucson descriptions and geologic edification about California faults. []
Tucson geologist Frankie MacFarlane and PI, and live-in lover, Philo Dain, who is just back from a difficult assignment in Afghanistan, are caught up in his family’s past when they agree to try to help his estranged uncle find a missing wife and a set of chess men worth millions. Frankie uses her investigative skills more than her geological training and experience to aid Philo as they track money and people to a family “ranch” in foggy coastal northern California. Miller writes well with good dialog, fine descriptions, and a storyline that keeps the reader’s attention. []

Frequently Asked Questions About Bats
By Rose Houk. Western National Parks Association. 20 pp. $6.95.
Even if you know a lot about bats, you’ll have fun here appreciating them. The illustrations are compelling, the text will pump your curiosity, and you’ll want to find a bridge or cave tonight so you can see a cloud of them launch at sunset. What marvelous creatures, and author Rose Houk does them justice. []

From This Wicked Patch of Dust
By Sergio Troncoso. University of Arizona Press. 229 pp. $17.95.
Troncoso writes with a wonderful ear for dialog and the simple, but difficult, lives of Hispanics in the lower Rio Grande valley. Whether they are looking for work, trying to protect their limited possessions, or just figuring out how to survive another day, these are real people. []

Gangster Tour of Texas
By T. Lindsay Baker. Texas A&M University Press. 384 pp. Index. $29.95.
Beginning with Bonnie in the 1930s and ending with the closing of Galveston casinos in 1957, T. Lindsay Baker leaves no stone unturned as he delves into some of the more notorious crimes in Texas. It is all there: murder, prohibition, smuggling, prostitution, money laundering, and narcotics. He did not stop after rigorously telling every detail of the various crimes, but provided photographs of individuals, their funerals and graves, their homes and businesses. That’s not all. A curious reader can follow the many maps and drive to all the scenes mentioned. []

Gift of the Desert Dog
By Robert L. Hunton. Open Books Press. $15.00.
Danny a 12 year old is swept down an arroyo into a mass of branches. He's tangled with a coyote in the branches and is able to free himself and the animal from the branches. Then, Danny goes on a quest to seek the spirits of his ancestors.
[]

Glen Canyon Country, The: A Personal Memoir
By , Don D. Fowler. University of Utah Press. 424 pp. $39.95.
Top Pick
Part history book, part love letter, part autobiography, part science field trip, this magnificently-told book about Glen Canyon is archaeologist Don Fowler’s gift to posterity. He invites us into his camps and on his trips over the past half century, introducing us to old-timers, secret places, and unexplained wonders. The book jumps with life, humor and curiosity. The photos are especially clear and helpful. Fowler wanted to make the book a “biography of a place and of those who defined it and lived it.” He succeeds admirably. []

Glittering World, This
By . Kensington Books. 285 pp. $15.00.

Following the appearance of a beaten and dying Navajo man outside his Flagstaff home, and the subsequent encounter with the man’s sister, events unfold which cause protagonist Ben Bailey to question everything about his life and relationships.
Good Thief's Guide to Vegas, The
By Chris Ewan. Minotaur Books. 291 pp. $24.99.
Comic “whodunit?” “not me!” set in Las Vegas, NV. Charlie Howard, hustler and British citizen, after closing a deal on the East Coast heads for Vegas with his agent. She doesn’t think much of his books and they don’t make much money, but it’s Vegas, baby. When a star showgirl turns up dead in the bathtub of a star magician, and Charlie “liberates” lots of cash from the magician’s safe... Well, you can imagine. []

Grand Canyon, The: From Rim to River
By Caroline Cook, Jim Turner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 62 pp. $9.95.
Here are sixty-two pages filled with grandiose scenes in Grand Canyon National Park including a map, a little on the geology – just enough to make one want to go there right away. My favorite is a photo of two brightly colored Collard Lizards basking on rock in the lower canyon. []

Great Grand Canyon Time Train, The
By Susan Lowell. Rio Nuevo Publishers. $15.95.
Sam, Rosie and their parents take a train trip on the Grand Canyon railway. As they arrive at the depot they start seeing people from the past like John Wesley Powell and the Harvey Girls. As the story goes along it's journey the train is now called the Grand Canyon Time Train. The train tunnels through layers of igneous rock through time to see trilobites, dragonflies and dinosaurs.
A light adventure story for the early grades. []

Harsh Country, Hard Times: Clayton Wheat WIlliams and the Transformation of the Trans-Pecos
By Louis Gwin, Janet Pollard. Texas A&M University Press. 320 pp. Index. $35.00.
Pollard and Gwin draw on a substantial family archive to paint an admiring, but fair, portrait of this important West Texas oilman and rancher. Beginning with his service as an artillery instructor in WWI France, Williams emerges as a tenacious, and sometimes pugnacious, entreprenuer and committed family man whose frontier values mirrored and drove the local economy through depression and prosperity. Williams, himself an accomplished amateur historian,would no doubt be pleased with this biography co-authored by his daughter, as will students of the economic development of the Trans-Pecos. []
Williams, 1895-1983, was a rancher, World War I veteran, self-taught petroleum geologist, county commissioner, and historian living mostly in the Fort Stockton area. This book fulfills a promise by his daughter to complete the autobiography begun by Williams before his death. Its interest lies in the descriptions of the challenges and changes of this region in his lifetime, colorful characters, and interesting anecdotes recalled by family members. []

Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence
By Pamela Cory. Scarletta Press. 396 pp. $15.95.
When a drop-dead-gorgeous girl from Texas hits Las Vegas determined to make it as a star singer, things are bound to go wrong. Lots of behind the scenes maneuvering, love and lust, not to mention ambition and talent, make this a page-turner for a lengthy flight. []

Here I am a Writer
By Christopher McIlroy. Kitsune Books. 247 pp. $15.00.
McIlroy, a Flannery O’Conner Award winner for his book of short stories, here reports on his follow-up interviews with students of the writing workshops he conducted for Yaqui and O’odham youth some ten to twenty years ago. The former students included here were not always easy to find, and his searches and contemporary interactions with them is fascinating. For each student he provides samples of their writing as well as commenting upon his thoughts about them and their work. If you care about writing, whether poetry or narrative, this book will fascinate you.
[]
In grade school Martín Acuña wrote poems including one about his nana whose “face is like a plum as sweat drips down her face.” Today as an adult he is in and out of prison, and he writes a poem called “2 People in One Body,” one of them “loving, caring, and trusted” while the other “has no heart.” Teacher Christopher McIlory brings us many such before-and-after stories and poems from his writing students, each one touching, revealing, or entertaining. This book may be the most inspiring one you read all year, and it is especially rewarding to hear from young writers – they have much to tell us if we’ll only listen. []

Hoist a Cold One! Historic Bars of the Southwest
By Melody Groves. University of New Mexico Press. 132 pp. $24.95.

Old West ambiance lives in saloons like Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso, The Palace in Prescott, Crystal Palace in Tombstone, and Capitol Bar in Socorro, where thirsty drinkers can hoist a cold beer.
Homeless in Las Vegas: Stories From the Street
By Kurt Borchard. University of Nevada Press. 239 pp. Index. $24.95.
The title might suggest a collection of short fiction. Not so! This follow-up to Borchard’s 2005 study The Word on the Street includes women as well as men and finds that things have not gotten better in Fun City. Frequently including dialog between himself and the homeless people he interviewed, the text brings a serious problem into clear focus. Chapter titles such as “Living Outside the Mainstream with Chronic Alcoholism” and “Homeless, Not Criminal” as well as “Confronting Aggression, Pride and Need in Former Convicts” suggest the wide rangeing coverage. []
You can trade the title’s name Las Vegas for your town or any city in America and you’ll hear the same wrenching stories about people who live on our streets, some by choice and many by fate, “hapless victims and voluntary exiles.” Borchard listens to their stories, hundreds of them, and puts faces to misery, doubt, and spunk. There seem to be no easy solutions, but housing would help. Bordhard does analyze the problems and concludes “addressing homelessness… requires that we first recognize our shared humanity,” and he takes us on that big step. []

Identity: Lost
By Pascal Marco. Oceanview Publishing. 319 pp. $25.95.
Beginning with a flashback to 1990 of a young boy in a Chicago courtroom, this complicated crime novel immediately settles into modern-day Maricopa County where the boy, now a successful attorney, has been relocated as part of the witness-protection system. Suddenly his years of playing a new role, never telling his wife, begins to fall apart. Good reading for a Phoenician on a long plane ride. []

If I Was a Highway
By Michael Ventura. Texas Tech University Press. 256 pp. $29.95.
Michael Ventura heads west and sometimes east, out of “Lubbock, or Leave it,” Texas, still proud of his green ’69 Chevy Malibu, the only car he ever had. Included here is a selection of previously published essays, mainly from the Austin Chronicle. Ventura chronicles his adventures as he crosses the country and leaves us with some fine vignettes as he philosophizes about a roadside shrine in the Texas Panhandle, Big Macs in Show Low, Arizona, even the Very Large Array in New Mexico, and of course, the people he meets along the way. []

Immigration Law and the U.S.- Mexico Border: Si se puede?
By Kevin Johnson, Bernard Trujillo. University of Arizona Press. 294 pp. $19.95.
Both authors are professors of law and wrote this book as a text book to explain US Immigration law and policy in its numerous aspects such as: labor migration; local and state regulation over immigration; and the contributions of Mexican immigrants to the US Economy. The authors discuss the long history of migration patterns, Federal Plenary Power, Administration and enforcement of Immigration laws, removal, border enforcement, National security, and much, much more. Each section has a list of questions, there are numerous case studies, plenty of statistics, a detailed glossary and many references. This is an important book that should be read by all citizens in order to better understand the enormous complexities when dealing with immigration. []

In Search of Dominguez & Escalante: Photographing the 1776 Spanish Expedition Through the Southwest
By Siegfried Halus, Greg MacGregor. Museum of New Mexico Press. 232 pp. $50.00.
What would Francisco Dominguez and Silvestre Escalante think today, if they saw a coal delivery train chug by at their old campsite at the Utah-Colorado border, the pleasure boats on Lake Powell, a field of wind turbines or an auto traveling to Second Mesa on a paved road? Using Escalante’s journal, two photographers retraced the 1776 expedition through the Four Corners region and recorded the present-day condition of the expedition’s campsites. The black-and-white photographs are accompanied by dated excerpts from Escalante’s journal, along with maps of the journey. It makes one ponder changes over time to the present day as well as the possibilities for changes in the future. A fine book. []
I love the premise of this book: what would members of the 1776 Domínguez and Escalante expedition see if they made their trip today? Portions of their 1,800-mile route --- roughly from Santa Fe to Provo to Cedar City, and back --- now traverse a national historic trail and open public lands, but it also crosses towns, mines, and farms. Pairing the expeditions’ journals with splendid full-page documentary photographs, the author-photographers give a one-swoop look at changes in the Southwest. The result is compelling, with a mix of humor, grandeur, irony, and reflection, including a Paiute park ranger, a vender selling Indian jewelry near Navajo Bridge, a fiberglass dinosaur, railroad tracks at one of their campsites, and modern reenactments of the historic walk. You could build a whole vacation around his book. []

Indigenous Albuquerque
By Myla Vicenti Carpio. Texas Tech University Press. 178 pp. Index. $39.95.
Carpio (Jicarilla Apache/Laguna and Isleta Pueblo) uses Albuquerque, NM, as a case study in how Native Americans both shape and are shaped by their political, economic, and cultural surroundings. Her central argument-that urban Indians have been, and are, active agents in their own destinies who, despite their distinctive experiences, share a core connection with their reservation counterparts-has significant implications for Indian scholars, as well as government and community organizations. []
Albuquerque, because if its proximity to 12 reservations and its population of 30,000 Native people, is the perfect location for this study of “urban Indians.” Carpio describe challenges these folks face: a lack of social and educational services available on the reservation; isolation from others in their own culture and lack of community among different Native groups; “colonial” mindsets which ignore Native spiritual and environmental values. Well written, clearly presented, and carefully documented, this work should be an eye-opener for readers interested in the subject and essential reading for students of American Indians and urban policy planners. []

Insane Train, The
By Sheldon Russell. Minotaur Books. 312 pp. $25.99.
In the Mojave Desert at Barstow, California, one of two “dorms” of an insane asylum burns to the ground leaving the problem of transporting 50 inmates, some of them murderers, across the Southwest to a new facility in Kansas. Hook Runyon, a one-armed bull or “yard dog” with the railroad, draws the responsibility for getting them to their new “home”. And if it can go wrong, it does. Russell creates a page-turner filled with wisecracks and drama, by turns tongue-in-cheek and then all-out deadly. Enjoyable reading for an armchair or a train ride. []

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy
By Laurie Notaro. Villard. 218 pp. $15.00.

A collection of humorous essays on the author’s attempts to fit in with her ultra-liberal community in Eugene Oregon.
Jar of Severed Hands, The: Spanish Deportation of Apache Prisoners of War, 1770-1810
By Mark Santiago. University of Oklahoma Press. 258 pp. Index. $29.95.
As he did with two excellent books dealing with this period (The Red Captain, 1994 and Massacre at the Yuma Crossing, 1998) Santiago carefully lays out the historical background. Then he illuminates the handling of the conflict between Spaniards and Native Americans showing readers both the theoretical and the practical. He’s a fine writer and the “story” flows freely. The title refers to an incident in which Spanish soldiers cut off one hand of each of the Apaches killed in a battle and preserved them in a jar to prove to their superiors that they were accomplishing their mission, which was to subdue hostile Apaches. []

John Slaughter Kid, A: The Story of May Watkins Burns
By Betty Barr. B Rocking J Books. 145 pp. Index. $15.00.
Here we learn that the tough old Sheriff of Cochise County turned to putty when a tiny child needed a home, the Indian, Apache May among them. Another was the subject of this story, May Burns who was among those fostered by Slaughter and his wife, Viola. The book is filled with vignettes about the numerous people who grew up or spent time at the ranch. Photographs and maps on every page add to the books historic interest. []

Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie / El hombre que no sabia mentir
By Joe Hayes. Cinco Puntos Press. 32 pp. $8.95.
In this re-telling of an old folk tale, a young ranch foreman is called, Juan Verdades because he never lies. (Verdades = Truthful)
One day Don Arturo, a rancher, bets his friend, Don Ignacio that he can make Verdades tell a lie. As the story goes on the reader is drawn into the challenge of discovering whether the rancher and his family can make Verdades lie about a beautiful apple tree the 'manzana real.'
The bilingual tale unfolds with trickery, romance and a surprising resolution.
[]

Killer is Dying, The: A Novel
By James Sallis. Walker Publishing Company. 232 pp. $24.00.
Top Pick
Sallis has authored nearly 30 books, about half of them novels. His sizzling, non-stop "Drive" was recently turned into a highly-praised movie. In this latest, set in Phoenix, three lives which seem fated to meet in some disaster find their destinies in other ways. The killer-for-hire of the title has cancer. He has one last job to do, but someone beats him to it, and he finds himself compelled to find out who and why. Meanwhile, the wife of one of the two detectives assigned to the case is also dying of cancer. A third story line introduces a young man whom we may think will later become a killer-for-hire. Terrific writing that will capture the imagination of any mystery fan. []
Los Angeles has Raymond Chandler. San Francisco has Dashell Hammett. And now Phoenix has James Sallis. In this compelling novel, the author of "Drive" probes in supple language the minds of a trio of outsiders - a dying hit man, a battered cop, and an abandoned youngster. As the characters circle one another in the wake of a botched assassination, Sallis takes readers on a tour of the twenty-first-century urban psyche fueled by loneliness and isolation. More than just a satisfying mystery, this is great literature. []

Killing Shot, The
By Johnny Boggs. Pinnacle Books. 312 pp. $5.99.
Marshal Reilly McGivern is in serious trouble from beginning to end in this thrilling page-turner set in 1890s Southeast Arizona Territory. Rescued by notorious Bloody Jim Pardo from being locked up in his own prison wagon and left to die in desert heat, McGivern hopes to save himself, a young mother, and 10 year old daughter, by pretending he also is an outlaw. Strong characterization, especially of the bad guys, non-stop action, and realistic depiction of the desert terrain in summer add to the excellence of this western. My favorite character was the uncontrollable, courageous, foul-mouthed ten year old Blanche, who has the final say in the book. []

Kissing Arizona
By Elizabeth Gunn. Severn House Publishers. 208 pp. $28.95.
Readers who enjoyed Gunn’s earlier mysteries involving Tucson homicide detective Sarah Burke will surely enjoy this one. Multiple story lines involve large scale drug smuggling and constant/recurring efforts by Mexican nationals to enter the U.S. and find work and safety; one young woman even gives the book its title! Meantime, Sarah and her longtime male friend, as well as her niece and mother, find a way to accommodate hectic schedules, a minor stroke, and various troubles that life throws at them. Solid page-turner. []

Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man
By David Remley. University of Oklahoma Press. 320 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
Remley steers a steady course through troubled waters in this interpretive biography of the legendary, and controversial, guide, soldier, and Indian agent. When viewed within the context of his time and culture, Remley concludes, Carson emerges as “a common man of mind and feeling, a human being of his day and place, misrepresented in his own time as a great white hero, and in ours as another damned killer.” Tightly argued, clearly written and backed by an impressive bibliography, this volume in the University of Oklahoma’s western biographies series offers a balanced appraisal for scholars and general readers, alike. []
This biography of Kit Carson maintains a balanced view between the 19th Century adulation of an American superhero and the more recent revisionist view of Carson as an inhumane slaughterer of Native Americans. Kit wore many hats, traveled many places in the not-yet US in his 40 year career, but he was always guided by principles of loyalty, integrity, and duty. The author credits his keen sense of self-preservation to his border country background (Scots-Irish), but points out that as Carson matured, he understood the importance of compromise as opposed to bloodshed. This book seems unbiased, easily understood, and while well documented, not overly academic. []

La Llorona: The Crying Woman
By Rudolfo Anaya. University of New Mexico Press. 39 pp. $19.95.
When Maya is born with a sun-shaped birthmark on her shoulder, the priest proclaims she will never die because she is a child of the sun. Angered, Father Time/ Señor Tiempo vows to harm her. Maya flees to the jungle and has children, but is later tricked by Señor Tiempo who drowns them. Afterwards, Maya wanders the lakeside mournfully crying, “Mis niños, mis niños.” A classic Mexican folktale presented with beautiful illustrations by Amy Córdova. []

La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture Along the Rio Grande
By Jose Rivera. University of New Mexico Press. 212 pp. Index. $35.00.
The society of the title is, officially, La Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos. One of hundreds of such societies, it has more than 60 local units known as concilios (lodges). Rivera explains why such groups formed (to protect small, Hispanic farmers) and how they functioned (not unlike the Grange Movement in the U. S. Midwest). Now modified and aiming at protecting Hispanic culture rather than farmer’s rights, the future seems in doubt as older members die and younger potential members are busy with the other distractions and attractions of modern society. []

Last Dust to Settle, The
By Jim England-Kennedy. CreateSpace. 302 pp. $12.96.

Border wars novel.
Last Gunfight, The: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral - And How It Changed the American West
By Jeff Guinn. Simon & Schuster. 392 pp. Index. $27.00.
Skeptics who doubt the need for yet another recounting of the 1881 gunfight that pitted the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the Clantons and the McLaurys will need to reassess their views. Guinn, the bestselling author of "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde", plumbs a sprawling array of sources to weave a compelling narrative of flesh-and-blood human beings inexorably drawn into an iconic confrontation on the cold, windswept streets of Tombstone, AZ. In his deft hands, this often-told story takes on new depth and meaning as it unfolds against the backdrop of frontier settlement, community development and territorial politics. []
Let’s get the facts straight. The shootout was on Fremont Street, not in the O.K. Corral and it was far from being Wyatt Earp’s last gunfight. We learn that he rarely stayed long in one place and was focused on hoped for wealth and fame. What he attained was notoriety as a part time sheriff, gunslinger, a womanizer, and a gambler. The fracas at the so-called corral, was only the beginning since he spent the rest of the time in Tombstone seeking revenge against enemies and avoiding arrest for misdeeds. It wasn’t long before he left town for California where he spent the rest of his life trying to write a memoir. Writers still won’t let him die. []

Last Narco, The: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord
By Malcolm Beith. Grove Press. 261 pp. Index. $24.00.
Beginning with a dramatic 2001 escape from a central Mexico prison, Beith traces the mushrooming folk legend of Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera ("El Chapo") and explains the spreading influence of drug cartels into the border regions of the United States and beyond. Based on a myriad of interviews and newspaper accounts, Beith offers a terrifying chronicle of corruption and violence, the final chapter of which is yet to be written. []

Lessons from a Desperado Poet: How to find Your Way When You Don't Have a Map, How to Win the Game When You Don't Know the Rules, and When Someone Says it Can't be Done, What They Really Mean is They Can't Do It.
By Baxter Black. TwoDot . 232 pp. Index. $22.95.
If you don’t know who Baxter Black is, you must not be listening to NPR. Known as the Cowboy Poet, his poetry (humorous, sly, and sometimes outrageous) takes a backseat in this delightful survey of his rules for becoming a success. Not “regional” in any sense, the words here are educational, laugh-out-loud funny and, yes, inspirational. A couple of examples: “Accounting people are like freemasons or rappers: they have their own secret language, rules, and handshake. Don't let it worry you. They don't understand what you are doing either” and “You’ve got to be able to recognize a dead horse when you see it and put down the reins” and, about sales by mail-order, “For a mailing to be effective and efficient, it must be kept as current as your parole officer’s cell phone number!” []
Although this isn’t particularly a Southwest book, cowboy poet Baxter Black has many fans here who will enjoy this funny self-help book that tells how to find your way through life when you don’t have a map. He lives in a hand-shake business world and his homespun philosophy is plain spoken, as it should be. Along the way he shares 118 life lessons that will warm your heart and brighten your smile. []

Levis & Lace: Arizona Women Who Made History
By Jan Cleere. Rio Nuevo. 196 pp. $14.95.
Arizona has had its share of fascinating, pioneering women, and here we meet 35 of them in short biographies that should spur us to look further. They include artists like potter Nampeyo and writer Katie Lee, teachers like Rebecca Dallis and Maria Urquides, businesswomen like Ada Bass, Nellie Cashman, and Louisa Wetherill, healers Florence Yount and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and judge Lorna Lockwood. Each and all reveal much about our state and its progress. A fun, fine read whether you are an old-time Arizonan or newcomer. []
Cleere includes photos, when available, so we modern readers can get a sense of what these woman, not all heroines, were like. That famous Apache “warrioress” Lozen is here, and 150 years later, Maria Urquides. Somewhere in between, chronologically, is perhaps the most famous Arizona woman, the Hopi potter Nampeyo. Nice tributes make easy reading. Only 30-some here, so there’s lots of room for another book, or two, Jan. []

Light in the Desert: Photographs from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert
By Tony O'Brien. Museum of New Mexico Press. 112 pp. $50.00.
More than 100 black and white images, many of them in a large horizontal format permitted by the book’s 10x13" size, deliver a powerful sense of the peace and, yes, austerity, of the lives of the resident monks. Located in New Mexico not far from Chama, which many people think of as Georgia O’Keeffe country, the monastery became O’Brien’s home for a year of recovery after his imprisonment in Afghanistan while on assignment for Life Magazine. []

Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
By Rachel St. John. Princeton University Press. 284 pp. Index. $29.95.
Harvard professor Rachel St. John draws extensively upon archival and published history to draw a portrait of the complexities of the U.S. border with Mexico. Along the way she discusses political relations between our two countries, analyzes events and policies, and draws thoughtful conclusions. She greatly helps to explain how we got to borderland mess we’re now in and why the fence is a greater issue for some Americans than for others. []

Love-Sick Skunk, The
By Joe Hayes. Cinco Puntos Press. $16.95.
Top Pick
This very funny picture book by popular children’s storyteller Joe Hayes relates what happens to a boy who refuses to give up his favorite old, tattered, holey, black-and-white sneakers. The trouble starts when he goes camping with a friend. Left outside the tent, the sneakers attract a skunk that falls in love with them. A rival skunk boyfriend comes along and, in a fit of jealousy, sprays the old shoes. In the stinky aftermath of the encounter between skunks and shoes, the boy finally agrees to wear the new pair of sneakers that his mom bought. A delight!

[]

Lucky Stiff
By Deborah Coonts. Forge Books. 368 pp. $24.99.
If you like stories set in Las Vegas with wisecracks for punch lines Coonts’ second novel, after 2010's “Wanna Get Lucky?”, might be just the thing for that next long airplane ride. When a semi-trailer loaded with a million honey bees overturns in front of her casino (she’s the Head of Customer Relations) on The Strip, it’s just the beginning of bad things that include a dead odds-maker in the hotel's shark tank. Card players sometimes say "Read 'em and weep" but here it's "Read 'em and laugh, or perhaps groan." []

Mariachi for Gringos II: Discovering More of Mexico's Hottest Songs and Stories
By Gil Sperry. Amigo Del Mar Press. 232 pp. .
Mariachi music originated centuries ago in Jalisco, a bit too far south to be called southwest. It is now international, having spread throughout Mexico and up into “our” region. Sperry provides both music and lyrics for fifty songs. The themes are generic: lost love, religion, family, homesickness, etc. Rarely does geographic location come into play, but a few songs mention a town or place we will all recognize. While the words and music are the focus of this volume, a large part of the book is devoted to interviews with six people for whom mariachi music is a primary interest; as educators, as practitioners, as creators. The original volume (2007) is still available from Amazon. []

Milagro of the Spanish Bean Bean Pot
By Emerita Romero-Anderson. Texas Tech University Press. 111 pp. $18.95.
Based on historical fact from the late 1700s, this story is about Raymundo, a boy who lives in a tiny, very poor New Mexican village with his family. He struggles to support his widowed mother by farming. The family's only clay pot which carries water to the bean plants breaks and Raymundo must learn pot making from Clay Woman who some say is a witch.
The story goes on with Comanche attacks, kidnapping, drought, vultures and finally rain. []

Missing on Superstition Mountain
By Elise Broach. Henry Holt and Company. 262 pp. $15.99.
Jack, Henry and Simon have just moved to Superstition, Arizona to a house in the shadow of an emormous mountain, Superstition Mountain. They follow their cat, Josie up the mountain one day and find some skulls near the trail. When the boys get back home the police have been called by frantic parents and the adults warn the boys not to go up there again.
The boys do some research at the local library, graveyard, and with the locals and decide to go up again to explore some more. This time a new friend comes along, and the girl falls down a canyon and breaks her leg.
The adventure continues in this fun, entertaining story for older elementary readers. []

Mormon Rebellion, The: America's First Civil War, 1857-1858
By Will Bagley, David Bigler. University of Oklahoma Press. 384 pp. Index. $34.95.
Two prominent historians of the Mormon experience delve into documents from the LDS Church archives to compose a compelling narrative of the all-but-forgotten time when Brigham Young defied federal authorities and an American army invaded Utah. Bigler and Bagley provide not only the most complete and reliable history of the so-called "Mormon War," but also an enlightening portrait of the larger-than-life Mormon prophet and a sobering account of religious zealotry that sadly resonates in modern times. []

Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona
By Frank S. Rose. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press. 201 pp. Index. $19.95.
This splendid book sets a new standard for clear, helpful flower guides. It is like having a botanist in your pocket. Entries for almost 375 species are easy to find and fun to follow-- sort of a Facebook for flower friends-- and with these glorious photos anyone can become a flower pro. At long last we can enjoy a one-stop flower guide to our favorite sky islands. []
This is a terrific guide to the wildflowers in the southern mountains of the State, especially the Catalinas. Rose provides a summary that makes using the book easy and the colorful photos are truly excellent. []

Natural History of Tassel-Eared Squirrels
By Sylvester Allred. University of New Mexico Press. 226 pp. Index. $45.00.
If you visit the Southwest’s ponderosa forests, you’ve undoubtedly met tassel-eared squirrels as they scurry about collecting or stashing nuts, mushrooms, or acorns. In this book Sylvester Allred tells their life story, supported by a nest full of information and observations, some of them startling like their taste for tree bark or range of vocalizations. Although the book is authoritative and likely to be a standard reference for years to come, it is reader friendly and full of interesting natural history. The numerous color photos greatly add to our appreciation. In the Southwest we have six subspecies including the Abert’s squirrel and Kaibab squirrel. And if you’re thinking that you’ve read another squirrel book by Allred, you win the prize – that book was children’s classic Rascal, the Tassel-Eared Squirrel. []

Natural History of the Intermountain West, A: Its Ecological and Evolutionary Story
By Gwendolyn L. Waring. University of Utah Press. 222 pp. Index. $29.95.
Top Pick
If you still have your childlike curiosity to ask questions, you’ll love this book. Biologist Gwendolyn Waring smoothly and clearly tells us why the Colorado Plateau is dry, why flowers have their shapes and which grasses excel in cool or warm climes. Fueled by her own sense of wonder, she treats us to the latest answers from researchers across the West, and despite the book’s broad title, most of it applies to our Southwest rivers, grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, pine forests and cold deserts. The result makes fascinating reading for anyone wishing to understand how key details explain the big picture. []

Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Life
By Jim Kristofic. University of New Mexico Press. 230 pp. $26.95.
Top Pick
The author, born in Pittsburgh in 1982, spent ages 8-18 and summers thereafter in Navajoland. This book, through a series of stories about his growing up, is his attempt to answer the questions “Are you an Indian?” and “What is an Indian?” Beautifully written, with dry humor, strong characterization -particularly of his mother, and a profound respect for the resilience of Navajo culture, it reveals the lasting impact of his Navajo experience on his world view. The book is a painless introduction for anyone of another culture who crosses paths with Navajos, on or off “The Rez.” []
Kristofic writes with wit, insight, and affection of the formative years he spent as an Anglo kid, or "White Apple" to his Navajo classmates, at the reservation school at Ganado and later at public high school in Page. Kristofic's adventure begins when his divorced mother accepts a nursing job with the Indian Health Service. He quickly and painfully learns how to be a Tough Nut ("the Navajo Way"), forms bonds with neighbors and classmates, and discovers the complicated answer to The Question: "Are you a Navajo?" His thoughtful and entertaining memoir opens a revealing window on contemporary reservation life and sheds light on the important matter of how we view others and define ourselves. []

Nevada Rose: Inside the American Brothel
By Marc McAndrews. Umbrage Publications. 160 pp. $40.00.
Covering the entire state, not just the southern portion around Las Vegas, this large-format volume has 200-plus color photos, more interiors of rooms than the scantily clad women we might expect. McAndrews’ well-framed and true-colored photos make “the business” seem almost sedate and Kelly’s essay titled “Among the Last Honest Places in America” leaves no doubt as to point of view. Eyes in search of pix of nude women must look elsewhere. []

New American Family, A: A Love Story
By Peter Likins. University of Arizona Press. 179 pp. Index. $29.95.
Likins, who retired as president of the University of Arizona in 1996, does not bombard the reader with details of his accomplishments, though they are many, nor with a boring list of dates and events, though those are here as well. Instead he describes his multi-racial family of six adopted children, his 50+ years with wife Pat, his “adventures” as president of two universities, and his gentle but firm belief that there is hope for the future!
[]

New Mexico's Tasty Traditions: Recollections, Recipes, and Photos
By Sharon Niederman. New Mexico Magazine. 135 pp. $27.95.
The title and subtitle reveal the scope of the book but not the quality, which is high. Appealing colored photographs grace every page; the layout is eye-catching, with a good balance between text and photographs; the recipes are highlighted with a soft lavender background. Having lived and traveled in New Mexico, I expected to be familiar with the content, but much of it was new to me: an annual cakewalk in Springer, bizcochitos, and Route 60’s Pieway. Traditions and recipes come not only from the three major cultures but Jewish, Italian, and eastern European as well. []

New Politics of Indian Gaming, The: The Rise of Reservation Interest Groups
By Kenneth Hansen, Tracy Skopek. University of Nevada Press. 228 pp. Index. $49.95.
These nine papers (by 13 authors) range across the nation covering such topics as the impact of gaming on state politics and the use of gambling revenues to influence political decisions. Two chapters relate to our Southwest, one surveying Indian gaming in Arizona, the other analyzing an effort in New Mexico where Jemez Pueblo has tried to establish a casino on non-reservation land. The point this book makes most clearly is that Indian gaming is still in its infancy and how its control and financing will play out is many years in the future. []
The author here defines Southwestern cuisine as presented in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, areas most influenced by the combination of Native American and northern Mexican cookery. Each section is organized with its own Table of Contents and history of Native foods and cooking in the area. It is a slick, well produced volume that is a joy to browse.. []

Ninth Day, The
By Jamie Freveletti. HarperCollins. 384 pp. $9.99.
Emma Caldridge is a bio-chemist for a company that sometimes helps out the US Department of Defense in its battle against Latin American drug cartels. While collecting herbs in the Arizona desert she follows drug smugglers but is captured and taken south of Juarez to the compound of a notoriously ruthless drug lord who wants her to find a cure for an undiagnosed, virulent, flesh-eating disease running rampant on his ranch, a disease which kills its victims in nine days. The non-stop, page-turning action with adventurous and resourceful Emma in the forefront, airplane and car chases, shootouts and break-in and the race against time will grab readers’ attention from beginning to end. []

Northern Arizona University: Buildings as History
By Lee C. Drickamer, Peter J. Runge. University of Arizona Press. 317 pp. Index. $30.00.
Architectural styles on college campuses are like tree rings whose successive layers reveal much about how and why an institution plants roots and grows. In this handsome coffee-table book, Drickamer and Runge offer a visual history of the growth of Flagstaff's mountain campus through more than 250 images of buildings then and now. The accompanying text tells each campus structure's story, describes salient architectural features, and provides a biography of the person or persons for whom it is named. NAU alumni will appreciate this walk down memory lane, while historians and casual raders will benefit from a perceptive view of an educational institution as a living organism. []
This college yearbook for buildings shows the growth from a small teachers college founded in 1899 into the fine Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. More than just a promo book for future big-bucks donors, this book brims with history. Names like Frances Bury, Hugh Campbell, Agnes Allen, Platt Cline, Raúl Castro, and Grady Gammage are coupled with short biographies, bringing life to their nameplates on halls, labs, dorms, offices, and even streets. Maps show the development of the campus, and the photographs, aided by notes on architecture, give the flavor that many students remember fondly. []

Old Border Road: A Novel
By Susan Froderberg. Little, Brown and Company. 292 pp. $23.99.
Top Pick
Froderberg reaches for the literary heavens in her lyrical debut novel and, by and large, she hits the mark. In a drought-stricken corner of the Southwest (the town is unnamed, but Froderberg clearly means Yuma), a teenage bride struggles to define herself in a parched physical and emotional landscape where dreams evaporate and trust is as elusive as the life-sustaining rain. Abandoned by her parents and betrayed by her husband, she draws biblical lessons from the natural world and from the resilient people who make their way through this hard land. At once stark and evocative, this compelling story explores terrain that is achingly personal and boldly universal. Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy are inevitable, but they underscore rather than diminish Froderberg’s stellar accomplishment. []
The unidentified Southwest border area, which must be Yuma, is a major character in this novel set in the present yet with a sense of history. Katherine, 17, escapes her dysfunctional parents, drops out of school, and mesmerized by Son, scion of wealthy ranchers, finds she’s moved from frying pan to fire. Son is a womanizer; Katherine gains wisdom from her in-laws and expands her ability to cope with hard work, learning new skills, and developing insight into others while all are coping with an overwhelming drought. The language is lyrical, biblical, unusual and a reason for the success of the novel. Highly recommended. []

Old West Swindlers
By Robert Barr Smith, Laurence J. Yadon. Pelican Publishing. 303 pp. Index. $16.95.
The authors share countless schemes and variations on schemes, amusing anecdotes about myriad schemers, and the colorful language used in the “business” of separating people of means from their worldly wealth in the Old West. Most of these swindlers were charmers, who dressed and spoke well, who often had accomplices, and many took pride that they limited their scams to wealthy folks, usually non-locals. Often they had the cooperation of corrupt law enforcers, as Soapy Smith did in Denver. This lighthearted and informative book covers a mind-boggling number of swindles and swindlers. One should have no excuse for becoming a victim after digesting this volume. []

Out of This World: New Mexico's Contributions to Space Travel
By Loretta Hall. Rio Grande Books. 175 pp. Index. $27.95.
The story of New Mexico’s contributions to space travel go back to the time when Robert Goddard began testing his rockets near Roswell and end (for the time being) at Spaceport America in Sierra County which is a commercial Airport licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In between those years were astronauts in training, accounts of UFOs and numerous tests of various rockets. One of the most interesting chapters is the training of chimpanzees for their flights into space. []

Painted Boy, The
By Charles DeLint. Viking. 431 pp. $18.99.
In this cleverly crafted fantasy, a teenage Chinese American boy with a mysterious dragon painted on his back arrives in a gang-plagued desert town. As the plot builds to a climactic confrontation between good and evil, De Lint deftly weaves together modern story elements and threads of ancient folklore to create a magical world in which a youngster learns important lessons about inner strength and personal responsibility, and where readers are reminded of the spiritual connection between life and landscape. []

Pancho Villa: a Lifetime of Vengeance
By Ben F. Williams, Jr.. Smokin Z Press. 240 pp. Index. $20.00.
The former Douglas mayor combines his talents as a storyteller and historian in this lively account of the Mexican revolutionarly leader whose path frequently intersected the lives of Williams' father and grandfather. Anecdotes include Villa's 1914 visit to Douglas, encounters at the Williams ranch in Sonora, and Villa's famous raid on Columbus, New Mexico. Williams also provides his informed perspective on the whereabouts of Villa's skull. Dozens of rare photographs enhance the value and pleasure of this engaging book. []
Williams, prolific writer on Southern Arizona topics, retells scenes from the life of Villa. His perspective is personal as he recounts his family’s “history” with Villa on their ranch in Sonora and Villa’s visit to Douglas, Arizona, where Williams was once mayor (many years after the visit of course). Known for his storytelling ability as well as his intense research, Williams provides informed speculation on the whereabouts of Villa’s skull, long a matter of mystery since it was discovered missing when his body was moved from one grave-site to another. []

Partners in Crime: a Rafe Buenrostro Mystery
By Rolando Hinojosa. Arte Publico Press. 247 pp. $16.95.
Neither Belken County nor its county-seat, Klail City, exist in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, but in 15 novels Hinojosa has created and peopled those places. Often identified as Hinojosa’s “Klail City Death Trip series”, this volume does not carry that designation but fans will find the characters as lively as ever, and the thoughtful policeman Rafe Buenrostro just as indomitable. []

Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints
By Sam Brower. Bloomsbury USA. 323 pp. Index. $27.00.
If you don’t know at least some basic things about Jeffs you haven’t been paying attention to the evening news over the past couple of years. Jeffs succeeded his father in the role of “Prophet” of the breakaway Mormon group named in the subtitle and expanded his control over its approximately 10,000 members. He was arrested in 2006 and convicted in Utah for sexual assault on children. This conviction was overturned, but he was extradited to Texas where he was charged with similar crimes and again convicted. He is currently serving a life sentence. Brower, himself a Mormon, lays out his years’ worth of investigation by naming names, dates, incidents, etc. It is probable that other biographies of Jeffs will be published but this is a damning and detailed account. []
The author, a Mormon private investigator, has been investigating the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints for the past seven years. Curious, he followed up on an article in the paper about a Short Creek man who was accusing Warren Jeffs of being like Hitler. What followed was a long-term investigation of Jeffs which convinced the PI that Jeffs was truly a madman, a criminal who not only brainwashed his parishioners but committed pedophilia, rape and incest along with other more serious crimes in a Mafia-like criminal gang. A solidly written shocking expose of the criminal activities of Jeffs, this adds to the body of evidence against a demented man, who has now been sentenced for life. This book is well-written on a timely topic. []

Provincial Justice: A Kate Mahoney Mystery
By Gerry Hernbrode. Imago Press. 256 pp. $15.00.
Hernbrode, like her protagonist Mahoney, is a teacher and a former nun, so she knows whereof she writes, though perhaps she has never been directly involved in a murder! Still, she’s a good writer with solid dialog and, as a resident of Tucson, has an excellent feel for the city and its environs. Readers who may be doubtful about information provided in dreams from the dead will, perhaps, have second thoughts. []
Kate Mahoney, ex-nun, widow of a police officer killed on duty, wed now to her responsibilities as principal of an elementary school in an impoverished Tucson neighborhood, dreams her former Mother Provincial orders her to solve murders at her school. In reality, a first grade teacher is imprisoned, accused of murdering the superintendent in his classroom. More murders follow. Kate teams up with a school resource officer (former CIA) to solve the crime. Hernbrode successfully pulls off this bizarre combination of dream sequences, school routines, and page-turning suspense. Especially noteworthy are the insights into the challenges of being a leader of a public school with disadvantaged children. A worthy first novel. []

Pueblo Peoples on the Pajarito Plateau: Archaeology and Efficiency
By David E. Stuart. University of New Mexico Press. 143 pp. $19.95.
In a slender book that is itself an exemplar of efficiency and practicality, Stuart traces some 10,000 years of human habitation in northern New Mexico, elegantly describing how Chaco culture collapsed under the weight of unsustainable growth and was replaced by Pueblo society more attuned to the land and climate. The lessons for modern Southwesterners are obvious. Lay readers will appreciate the engaging literary style that enables Stuart to weave complex concepts into a facile narrative. []
When pioneer archaeologist Adolph Bandelier came to study New Mexico cliff houses in 1880, little had been written about the Pueblo Peoples. Studies since then show that humans have lived in and around Bandelier National Monument for twelve millennia, and they left at least 3,000 sites. David Stuart brings their fascinating history alive with text and photos. Especially interesting to me were his points about their creative and efficient uses of labor and resources. We can learn something from them. []

Queen of America
By Luis Alberto Urrea. Little, Brown and Company. 479 pp. $25.99.
Top Pick
Urrea wields his pen like a magician waving a wand. In this luminous sequel to "The Hummingbird’s Daughter" (Southwest Books of the Year Top Pick, 2005), he recounts the further adventures of Teresita, the “Saint of Cabora,” as she flees revolutionary Mexico, pursued by assassins and acolytes, to Tucson, El Paso and eventually Clifton, AZ. It is obvious that Urrea has something exceptional in store for readers when he depicts his heroine as a Gilded Age superstar. Struggling to find herself and her place in a world bent on using her saintly image for its own purposes—good, evil and downright crass—Teresita makes her way across America, looking for happiness and testing the boundaries between faith and commercialism. Beautifully written, with wry wit and gentle wisdom, Queen of America separates the woman from the saint and offers up profound, sometimes aching, and always entertaining insights into the nature of faith and the pitfalls of fame. []
Urrea, a distant relative, re-names Teresita Urrea, known as the Saint of Cabora (see “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” in our 2005 list), a queen for the adoration that those who believe in her healing powers bring to her. Driven out of Mexico by politicos who fear her following among the people, she struggles to find out who she truly is while she is hounded both by those who wish her dead and those who wish to tap into her power. In it’s episodic style Teresita’s story may remind some readers, as it did this reviewer, of those grand Victorian literary adventures experienced by the likes of Huck Finn, or even the much earlier Tom Jones. []

Quincy Tahoma: The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist
By Vera Marie Badertscher, Charnell Havens. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.. 240 pp. Index. $50.00.
Top Pick
During a decade of research assembling material for this fine biography of Quincy Tahoma, the authors interviewed people who knew him, studied his work, and compiled a hefty list of awards and exhibits of this outstanding artist. Orphaned at an early age with one arm partially atrophied due to an accident, he entered Santa Fe Indian School. Dorothy Dunn played a major role in developing Tahoma’s artistic talent. His later output was astounding and some 260 examples are reproduced in vibrant color. Tahoma painted action photos of buffalo on the hunt, horses flying through the air, delightful little animals, and Navajo women tending their flocks. Some of his Santa Fe contemporaries were Harrison Begay and Gerald Nailor, and in those early days, they often sold painting for a quarter or half dollar for spending money. Today, they auction for thousands. A problem with alcohol caused his early demise at 35. The authors have deftly told the story of how it came to be. []
This is not only a beautiful art book and thoroughly- researched biography of Quincy Tahoma (c. 1920-1956), but is also the complete story, told for the first time, of a gifted artist whose life reflects not only his own personal challenges but the multiple difficulties of being an American Indian trying to thrive in an Anglo American-dominated culture. The reproductions of Tahoma’s are stunning, the text clearly organized and presented with easy to follow endnotes, helpful appendices on exhibits, collections, awards and a timeline of his life. This is a keeper. []

Railroad Noir: The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century
By Linda Grant Nieman. Indiana University Press. 151 pp. $39.95.
This is a memoir of the author’s years, 1979-1999, working on the railroad as a brakeman, switchman, and conductor throughout the Southwest. Armed with her Ph.D. in English, she was an unlikely candidate to be one of the first women hired. “Noir” suggests the themes of romance, night, darkness, and grit, all evident in these remembrances. This goes beyond a description of railroad life or personal observations: it embodies a sense of the isolation brought on by modern technology. The book is well-written, honest, and insightful and enhanced by dramatic photographs and a glossary of railroad terminology. []
The coffee-table book is not so much about the Southern Pacific Railroad as it is a very personal biography of Linda Grant Nieman, who served twenty years as a brakewoman mainly out of Salinas and San Jose, California. Included is a gallery of photographs of railroad sites west of the Mississippi. []

Rainbow Bridge to Monument Valley: Making the Modern Old West
By Thomas J. Harvey. University of Oklahoma Press. 237 pp. Index. $34.95.
Harvey finds much to contemplate in the roughly forty-five miles of scenic desert and picturesque spires along the Arizona-Utah border. Beginning with the Navajo concept of sacred homeland, he explains how Rainbow Bridge "discoverers" Byron Cummings and William Douglass, adventurer and writer Clyde Kluckhohn, novelist Zane Grey, filmmaker John Ford, conservationist David Brower, and others have used this stark landscape as a canvas on which to paint a mythic West as their response to twentieth-century modernization. Although intended for an academic audience, Harvey's clearly written and tightly argued book will appeal to anyone interested in popular culture and how we affix meaning to place. []

Randy Lopez Goes Home: A Novel
By Rudolfo Anaya. University of Oklahoma Press. 168 pp. $19.95.
With this poignant allegory, Anaya reminds us why he is considered the father of Chicano fiction. Returning to his New Mexico village after living in the Anglo world, Randy Lopez draws insight and wisdom from mythical figures who guide him from this world to the next. Life, he learns, is a bridge that, if well built and constantly attended, carries us on an uninterrupted journey into the hereafter. Beauty and wisdom walk hand in hand in Anaya's enlightening search for truth and meaning. []
Randy Lopez, hoping to recapture some of the Hispanic heritage which he has lost among the gringos, returns to Aqua Bendita, a tiny village in northern New Mexico. He yearns for Sofia, a goddess like figure who is inaccessible across the river. He meets various people from his past; no one remembers him, but wise ageless Unica agrees to help him build a bridge across the river. This allegory becomes the framework for musings on big questions about life, death, time, purpose, but ultimately it is affirmative. The concept, the writing, the setting, the characters, and the universality all make this a moving short work. []

Raptors of the West: Captured in Photographs
By Kate Davis. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 242 pp. Index. $30.00.
Even with good binoculars few of us can see hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons as clearly as on the pages of this book. With 400 exceptional color photos of birds on the wing and perch in the wild, we gain new respect for the beauty of birds, and the tenacity of photographers who specialize in their portraits. The range and beauty of birds here is astounding and marvelous. A special section on Southwest specialties show the crested caracara, elf owl, Harris’s hawk, and others that range only here, but many of the others shown in the book --- kestrels, harriers, owls, golden eagles, sharp-shinned hawks, and others --- live in or travel through the Southwest and are familiar to those of us who live here, though we’ll seldom if ever see them as “close-up” as we can in this gorgeous book. Of special notice is a sequence of a peregrine collapsing its wings and launching a dive. Wow. []

Rawhide Ranger, Ira Aten: Enforcing Law on the Texas Frontier
By Bob Alexander. University of North Texas Press. 452 pp. Index. $32.95.

Nineteenth-century Texas Ranger Ira Aten, featured in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, is the subject of this in-depth biography.
Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism
By , Bradley G. Shreve. University of Oklahoma Press. 274 pp. Index. $34.95.
It is generally believed that the American Indian Movement also known as Red Power, had its beginning in 1969 with the occupation of Alcatraz. Actually, it had its beginning in1961, when Indian students from all over the United States met in Gallup, New Mexico and formed the National Indian Youth Council (NIYA). Its concerns were tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, cultural preservation, and self determination. And these goals have remained through the years. Over the years, it adapted to change but continues working toward the same goals projected by its founders and occupies permanent offices in Albuquerque.

[]

Reining in the Rio Grande: People, Land, and Water
By Mary Black, G. Emlen Hall, Fred Phillips. University of New Mexico Press. 262 pp. Index. $34.95.
This is a terrific history and summary of the uses and abuses of the waters of the Rio Grande river and the century of conflicts among people, communities, states and other governmental agencies involved. The authors–a hydrologist, a lawyer, and an anthropologist–provide a thorough background before tackling the convoluted tale of skullduggery, lawsuits, agreements, and such that have brought the river to its current (no pun intended) perilous state. One horrible, possible future would be river-as-pipeline from Cochiti Pueblo, south of Santa Fe, to the border. Their final chapter, “The Future of an Old River,” while not proclaiming total disaster, does not leave much room for hope. []

Rightful Place
By Amy Hale Auker. Texas Tech University Press. 122 pp. $24.95.
If you haven’t yet met Amy Hale Auker, hold out your hand and reach for this poetic book of ranch vignettes about being a working cowboy’s wife. With lines like “I am not the only person who admires this land, but I am the one who is here, being touched by it, with cricket song all around me” (p.118) or “All evening long, the rodeo arena was a glittering snow globe, the tall lights reflecting off the dust stirred up by men, cattle, and horses” (p. 58), Auker is funny, bold, curious, real. A ranch is her rightful place, her family, and she gently tells why in some of the best prose to ever ride a page. []

rode
By Thomas Fox Averill. University of New Mexico Press. 206 pp. $24.95.

The author traveled the route chronicled in the song “Tennessee Stud” for this fictionalized account.
Route 66 in Arizona
By Joe Sonderman. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. $21.99.
If you are old enough, or listen to the oldies radio stations, you surely know how to “get your kicks on route 66,” and with this book you can relive photographically the Arizona stretch of it by viewing more than 200 interesting b/w photos with good captions. []

Route 66: Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion
By Tom Snyder. Griffin. 208 pp. $15.99.
Revised version of a very good roadguide that lets you plan a trip where you “can get your kicks,” as the song goes.
[]
Revised and updated for the third time, this handy guide with detailed maps will take the driver from Chicago to Santa Monica over 2,278 miles along or near Route 66. A second section, “Roadside Companion” records historical vignettes along “the mother road.” []

Ruins
By Margaret Randall. University of New Mexico Press. 136 pp. $21.95.
Although most of Margaret Randall’s reflective poems in this volume are about ruins of ancient civilizations around the globe, at least half a dozen feature our Southwest. In “Nankoweap” she claims victory on her cliffy climb to the granaries. In “Hovenweep” she asks what forces pull us to such places and she is renewed, remembering that “I am the artist” as her hands trace the contours of “mysterious towers… on overlapping folds of time.” My favorite, “Before They Changed the Rules,” closes with “I am doing my best / not to mourn Lascaux / but be grateful / I made it to Betatakin in time.” []

Santa Fe Reflections
By Steve Larese. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.. 127 pp. $24.99.
Here are stunning photos of Santa Fe and surrounding areas including the Pecos ruins and the village of Chimayo, some miles distant. Curiously neglected are nearby pueblo villages and the Santa Fe opera a popular and notable event. Missing is an index. []

Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border
By Jan Brewer. Broadside Books. 225 pp. $25.99.

Arizona’s governor defends SB 1070, the state’s controversial illegal immigration bill, and describes her ongoing conflict with the Federal government and the liberal media. Introduction by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Sebastian's Neighborhood: A Hummingbird's Story
By Barbara Kurtz. Desert Publishing. $11.00.
A very cutsey story of a little hummingbird who is either called, Sebastian or Sabastian. I guess the publisher or printer couldn't decide how to spell his name.
He is a Costa's hummingbird growing up in an aviary. The educational story is told in a conversational style aimed towards kindergartners - third grade.
The author did her research and photography at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. []

Sedona & Red Rock Country
By Kathleen Bryant. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 64 pp. $9.95.
There is no doubt that Sedona is Red, winter, summer, fall, and in the springtime. Sixty-four pages in glorious color tell something about the prehistoric residents, the forests, gurgling streams, wild life, and the movies filmed against the towering pillars of red sandstone. []

Singing Bowl, The
By Joan Logghe. University of New Mexico Press. 128 pp. $19.95.
The Singing Bowl by Joan Logghe. University of Nevada Press.
Logghe, a New Mexican now, though she makes it clear her birthplace is elsewhere, is in no-way a regional poet. On one page the city of Baghdad and the Gulf War might face across the gutter (a bookmaker’s term) Glorieta, NM and San Antonio, TX. Even the humorous, or at least “light hearted” poems have provocative images; this is poetry to ponder and reread.
[]

Slow Moving Dreams: A Novel
By Tom Hardy. TCU Press. 175 pp. $22.95.
Hardy writes from experience, growing up in West Texas, being a high school teacher and coach, and then a hospital administrator in Austin. Tom, embroiled in ugly hospital politics, decides to attend cousin Son’s funeral in his birthplace. As the miles unwind, the memories take over. The cousins, mostly now elsewhere, gather to celebrate Son, who chose to live the challenging but rewarding cowboy life. The life seems idyllic, but a dark skeleton emerges during the long weekend. This is a wonderful celebration of a bygone way of life, a criticism of modern stupidity, laced with humor and drama. []

Sonora Noose, The
By Jackson Lowry. Berkley Books. 275 pp. $5.99.
Set in 1880s southern New Mexico territory, this action-packed western pits Deputy Marshal Mason Barker against murderous, blood-lustful Mexican bandits led by the Sonoran Kid. Barker’s life is complicated by a bad back, addiction to painkillers, lack of money and a rebellious teenage son. Descriptions of rough terrain, climate, lawlessness and barroom scenes jibe with historical accounts, but what makes this novel stand out are the multi-faceted characterizations, especially those of Barker and the US Army and Buffalo soldiers who help him in his quest. []

Southwest Colors
By Andrea Helman. Rio Chico. $12.95.
Top Pick
This captivating picture book contains ten, beautiful, color photos of desert scenery and wildlife that provide the basis for lessons about the magenta color of the Calliope hummingbird's throat feathers, the bright blue of a Steller's Jay, the glorious yellow of aspen leaves, and much more. Each large color photo is accompanied by a column of text giving information about the featured animal or plant. Every page of this dramatic photographic picture book could stand alone as a striking piece of art.
[]

Southwest Comfort Food: Slow and Savory
By Marilyn Noble. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 145 pp. Index. $16.95.
The yum-in-tum recipes in this nicely-done book are created by braising, barbecuing, smoking, roasting, and in slow cookers. It is an attractively produced book containing enough compelling photographs to send one directly to the kitchen to create a Spicy Southwest Leg of Lamb or Arroz con Leche y Chocolate. []

Southwest Table, The: Traditional Cuisine from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona
By Dave DeWitt. Lyons Press. 275 pp. Index. $29.95.
The author here defines Southwestern cuisine as presented in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, areas most influenced by the combination of Native American and northern Mexican cookery. Each section is organized with its own Table of Contents and history of Native foods and cooking in the area. It is a slick, well produced volume that is a joy to browse.. []

Spider Woman's Gift: Nineteenth-Century Dine Textiles
By Joyce Begay-Foss, Marian E. Rodee. Museum of New Mexico Press. 95 pp. $24.95.
The subtitle reveals the subject but not the high quality of the colored close-up photographs of these classic textiles and basketry of the 1800s. Interpretive essays explain the history, process, and the individual pieces; especially interesting is the essay from the Dine prospective, which considers Navajo weaving not to have been taught by the Pueblos but rather as a gift from Spider Woman, and sheep not having been brought by the Spanish but also a gift from Spider Woman and Changing Woman. This book is a clearly and beautifully presented introduction to these arts.

[]

Spy's Guide to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, A
By E.B. Held. University of New Mexico Press. 95 pp. Index. $19.95.
Cold War nostalgia buffs in particular will enjoy this handy guide to espionage in the Land of Enchantment. Held, himself a former CIA operative, introduces readers to Zook's Drugstore, where KGB agents met to plot the murder of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City, drop points and clandestine meeting places for American turncoats (including Los Alamos physicist Klaus Fuchs and David Greenglass, the brother of Ethel Rosenberg), and the home of accused Chinese spy Wen Ho Lee. Maps, then-and-now photographs, and the author's informed commentary provide context and atmosphere. []
Spying is indeed dangerous business according to the author a retired CIA Clandestine Operations Officer for the United States government. A tourist stopping at Häagen Dazs in Santa Fe might be amazed to learn that KGB operatives planned the 1940 assassination of Leon Trotsky in that spot. Things heated up in 1942 when the secret Manhattan Project was established in Los Alamos and as it turned out, some of the scientists working on the Atomic Bomb were spies, Klaus Fuchs among them. The spy business, we learn is a complex undertaking, there are CIA and FBI keeping an eye on the KGB sometimes successfully, sometimes not. It is not hard to believe that perhaps today, some secret rendezvous is taking place close to the statue of Bishop Lamy in front of St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe. []

Strong at the Break
By Jon Land. Forge. 348 pp. $25.99.
Beginning with a 20 year old scene in Midland when Caitlin watched her Texas Ranger father kill three armed men, this page-turner jumps to the present. Caitlin, herself now a very successful Texas Ranger, must find and face the son of one of those men killed in 1990; a son who is now leader of an organization that threatens the nation, even the world. []

Sweeney
By Robert Julyan. University of New Mexico Press. 293 pp. $21.95.

A fictionalized, often humorous account of the strategies employed by the denizens of Sweeney, New Mexico to keep their small town alive.
They Call Me Doc: The Story Behind the Legend of John Henry Holliday
By D.J. Herda. Lyons Press. 188 pp. Index. $16.95.
Purporting to be an autobiography told by Doc from the beyond, Herda takes plenty of liberties in his account of everything about the famous, or infamous, if you prefer, gunslinger. An enjoyable, spoofy read that will drive Tombstone and O. K. Corral buffs crazy. []

Tia's Tamales
By Ana Baca. University of New Mexico Press. 32 pp. $16.95.
Luz and her abuelita spend the day making tamales while abuelita tells the story of Luz’s great-grandfather, Diego cooking tamales with his tia.
Diego & his tía find the ingredients for tamales around the farm while she tells him little proverbs to help them along, like ‘have a little faith’ and ‘the universe holds many surprises.’
Tia seems to have an almost magical way of finding eggs, nuts, fish, pumpkins and more where nothing was apparent initially.
[]

To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War
By John Gibler. City Lights Publishers. 218 pp. $15.95.
Just when you think there is nothing new to say about violence in Mexico, American journalist Gibler produces this riveting account of the chaos viewed primarily through the eyes of Mexican newspaper reporters and photographers. In harrowing detail, they relate stories of killings, torture, and intimidaton in which they walk a death-defying tightrope to do their jobs. As one of Gibler's informants points out, there are two wars going on in the country - a drug war and a war on drugs - with innocent, and sometimes not so innocent, people caught in the middle. Time will tell if Gibler's description of victims mobilizing to push back against corrupt government officials and the cartels signals a turning point that will end the bloodshed. []

Tracing the Santa Fe Trail: Today's Views, Yesterday's Voices
By Ronald Dulle. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 195 pp. Index. $22.00.
Top Pick
Dulle follows the trail from St. Louis to Santa Fe, juxtaposing his current color photographs of landmarks with historic accounts by people who made the journey. Helpful maps locating tribal groups, trade networks, and a double-page spread identifying notable spots along the way, as well as alternate routes, ease the reader’s armchair journey. This attractive and accessible volume updates information on the most important commercial trade route in U.S. history. As the foreword writer notes, “Dulle is not dull.” []
With this volume, readers can enjoy a vicarious journey of some twelve hundred miles along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail between Old Franklin, MO and Santa Fe, NM, and relive some of the excitement and drama of the commercial and trading enterprises of the 1800s. It all began when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, and William Becknell, Josiah Gregg and the Bent brothers opened communication with their trading expeditions. The author provides a fine map of the trail that marks every site mentioned by those who wrote about it: Pawnee Rock, Choteau’s Island, Old Bent’s Fort, Round Mound, Rabbit Ears, Raton Pass, and Fort Union, to name just a few. Included is a photograph of each site as it appears today along with an accompanying historical vignette. An enjoyable read for every armchair traveler. []

Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
By Benjamin Radford. University of New Mexico Press. 216 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
This fascinating study of the chupacabra, or “goatsucker,” (an animal purported to kill domestic animals) is thoroughly researched and clearly presented. Since the first recorded sighting in Puerto Rico in 1995, chupacabra predations have been reported worldwide, with Texas having the greatest number. Through interviews, DNA analyses of corpses and his own background knowledge in the study of cryptids (creatures whose existence is unproven), the author concludes there is no hard evidence indicating that the chupacabra.exists. This is an edifying read on a topic that has captured the popular imagination, especially in the Hispanic Southwest. []

Tucson Mountains
By William Ascarza. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. $21.99.
As with all the “Images of America” series, this volume contains black and white photos (more than 200 of them here) with lengthy, interesting captions. The title is a bit misleading since many of the photos depict scenes at considerable distance from the Tucson Mountains. []

Turmoil on the Rio Grande: The Territorial History of the Mesilla Valley, 1846-1865
By William S. Kiser. Texas A&M University Press. 320 pp. $35.00.
The author, a talented ASU graduate student, chronicles the tumultuous political, diplomatic, and military history of southern New Mexico's Mesilla Valley from the arrival of American troops during the U.S.-Mexico War through the federal expulsion of Confederate invaders and the close of the Civil War. Kiser shows a particularly keen grasp of the sense of isolation, even alienation, felt by both Anglo and Hispanic valley residents as remote governments in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City wrestled over boundary issues and control of hostile Apaches. This well-researched study provides an important perspective for students of New Mexico (and Arizona) territorial history. []

Twelve Hundred Miles by Horse and Burro: J. Stokely Ligon and New Mexico's First Breeding Bird Survey
By Harley Shaw, Mara Weisenberger. University of Arizona Press. 244 pp. Index. $26.95.
In 1913 Stokely Ligon, a self-reliant and gentle outdoor man, rode horseback 1,200 miles around New Mexico recording nesting birds along the way. Shaw and Weisenberger develop his diary and report into a fascinating discussion about New Mexico birds, landscape changes, and ecology. It is a field trip and campfire talk rolled into a very thoughtful, reflective book worthy of attention far beyond the birding community. Ligon himself is major figure in Southwest conservation, growing from a West Texas farm kid who repaired windmills to a career with the Biological Survey (now the Fish and Wildlife Service). []

Vanishing Circles: Portraits of Disappearing Wildlife of the Sonoran Desert Region
By Linda M. Brewer. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press. 167 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
This impressive collection of carefully crafted artworks presents the reader/viewer with more than 30 species: mammals, birds, fish, flora, and amphibians; all them threatened with extinction. Illustrations are by 28 artists rendering animals in handsome, realistic form; most of them might easily be mistaken as photographs. The texts are descriptive but not technical as Brewer explains how each fits into its surroundings and why it is threatened. Important book in a handsome presentation. []
Sixty-seven works of art illustrate ninety-three endangered or threatened species found in seven Sonoran Desert habitats. The collection was commissioned and acquired for the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum by the Priscilla and Michael Baldwin Foundation, which selected twenty-seven artists for this project based on their expertise in a particular natural area. The splendid reproductions could be mistaken for photographs, and their artful descriptions make the book a sheer treasure. Maps, notes and a glossary share space with lists of common and scientific names. []

Vengeance is Mine: The Scandalous Love Triangle that Triggered the Boyce-Sneed Feud
By Bill Neal. University of North Texas Press. 306 pp. Index. $24.95.
Shakespeare's Montagues and Capulets had nothing on the Texas Panhandle's Boyce and Sneed families. In sometimes breathless prose, historian Neal leads readers through the convoluted story of adultery and murder that pitted in-laws against one another in one of the Lone Star State's great feuds. At the center of the mayhem was John Beal Sneed, the aggrieved husband, whom Texas juries three times acquitted of bald-faced murder. Through deft use of 1912 court testimony and personal letters, Neal paints a vivid portrait of betrayal, vengeance, and the defense of tarnished honor in the Victorian South. []

Violent Encounters: Interviews on Western Massacres
By Deborah Lawrence, Jon Lawrence. University of Oklahoma Press. 258 pp. Index. $34.95.
In this fresh approach to an old subject the Lawrences have interviewed modern scholars, including familiar names like Will Bagley and Marc Simmons, asking them pertinent questions about such events as the Oatman captivity, and the Mountain Meadows and Camp Grant massacres. Each “interview” is presented in Q & A format giving a lively feeling to what are certainly well-known and historically well-covered events, with both attitudes and factoids that haven’t showed up in book form as yet.
[]

Voice of My Own, A: Essays and Stories
By Rolando Hinojosa. Arte Publico Press. 140 pp. $19.95.
Hinojosa, an award-winning author, acclaimed speaker, teacher, and translator, has collected essays and short stories on diverse subjects written between 1973 and 2009. This should be of interest to writers, translators, readers, Chicanos, and virtually everyone else. Most meaningful to me was his portrayal of what it is like to be of two cultures (his father was Texas Mexican and his mother was Texas Anglo) and to live in the Borderlands. A worthwhile read. []

We All Want to be Cowboys: Echoes of Wranglers, Riders and Homesteaders of the White Mountains
By JoAnn Hatch. Kymera Publishing. 112 pp. Index. $14.95.

Fun and inspiring stories of pioneer settlers and cowboys of Arizona’s White Mountains.
Weekends with O'Keeffe
By C.S. Merrill, Georgia O'Keeffe. University of New Mexico Press. 238 pp. Index. $24.95.
In 1973, Merrill asked O’Keeffe for an interview. Merrill kept a journal of what turned into a seven year weekend stint as librarian, cook, companion, and interpreter for the aging painter. The entries reveal O’Keeffe’s keen interest in the world around her, in health and nutrition, in classical music, her wisdom, and, yes, her occasional crankiness. The author, herself a poet and librarian, writes honestly and with respect. The book is not about art, but gives insights into the private life of a great artist and reveals the maturing of the author from hero(ine)-worshipping to realistic appreciation. []
Over a period of seven years, beginning in 1973, UNM graduate student and poet, Carol Merrill, kept a detailed diary of weekends living with Georgia O’Keeffe, while she cataloged her library, acted as cook, nurse, companion, and attended to other needs as the artist’s sight deteriorated and she became quite frail. Merrill included stories perhaps formerly unknown, about visitors including Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, and Allen Ginsberg. She admitted to being awed by “Miss O’Keeffe” and admired her art, her work, her life, her being. She mentions Juan Hamilton frequently, an artist in his own right, who managed O’Keefee’s affairs and ultimately inherited a good deal of the O’Keeffe estate. Phone calls inviting Merrill to future weekends at Abiquiu mysteriously ceased and Merrill's relationship with the grand dame was over. []

Where the Earth and Sky are Sewn Together: Sobaipuri-O'odham Contexts of Contact and Colonialism
By Deni J. Seymour. University of Utah Press. 327 pp. Index. $60.00.
If we had a category for top archaeological book, Deni Seymour would take my vote this year. Where Earth and Sky Are Sewn Together is a seminal, ground-breaking analysis of those O’odham who once lived in the vicinity of Tucson and were a major community when the first Spaniards arrived. The Sobaipuri O’odham may be the most interesting and important Arizona tribe you’ve never heard of. Their identity and history have long puzzled archaeologists and historians, and from her life-long research, Seymour offers many answers in this well-reasoned, strongly documented book that even avid non-professionals can enjoy. []

Where the West Begins: Debating Texas Identity
By Glen Ely. Texas Tech University Press. 201 pp. Index. $34.95.
Is Texas Old South, American West, or unique? Unsurprisingly, the author argues there is no one Texas. He also finds problems with all identities (i.e., racism, range management, and Civil War dissent). He argues that Texans have chosen “mythology over history,” but holds out hope for a future in which various groups can accept reality and work toward practical solutions to critical problems. This fascinating, thought-provoking, scholarly (60 pages of notes and bibliography) presentation makes a lot of sense. []
After reading this book you might want to revise Ely’s title, moving the word Texas from the subtitle and placing it after West in the main title, for it is truly the part of the state west of the 100th meridian that has captured his focus. He has thoroughly documented his argument that, at least in West Texas, the common appellation “slave state” does not apply, and that both historically and contemporaneously West Texas is where the west begins. []

Wild Hog Murders, The: A Dan Rhodes Mystery
By Bill Crider. Minotaur. 264 pp. $24.99.

Blacklin County Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes deals with havoc wreaked by feral hogs and feral hog hunters, while trying to solve a murder.
Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America's Mustangs
By J. Edward De Steiguer. University of Arizona Press. 296 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
First de Steiguer provides an account of eohippus, the tiny first horse, which evolved from American beginnings but migrated to Asia before becoming the creature we know today. Then he moves through prehistory outlining geographic spread, human interaction, etc. before tackling the difficult issues surrounding problems with mustangs. This is an excellent history and survey which concludes with a focus on the inadequacy of the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program. []
Here is history on the hoof that traces the origins of the horse in America from prehistory to the present. Included are details of years of politics involving ranchers, farmers, environmentalists, hunters, and yes, even those who track and capture horses to turn into cat and dog food. First-rate maps trace the introduction and spread of the Spanish horses from the Caribbean through Mexico into the Southwest and ultimately North America. []

Wild Women and Tricky Ladies: Rodeo Cowgirls, Trick Riders, and Other Performing Women Who Made the West Wilder
By Jill Charlotte Stanford. TwoDot. 97 pp. Index. $12.95.
Brief accounts of 15 women (but many others are mentioned) who worked at rodeos and wild west shows throughout the 20th century. []
It took guts and a burning desire to win when a cowgirl mounted her horse and performed “cartwheels” (where the rider slips to the side of the horse and turns around before getting back on the saddle), “threw fenders” (multiple trick moves around the saddle), or tried a “Layout” (hanging horizontally from the side of the horse). There were many famous trick riders from all over the country who competed in the top rodeos around the country: Salinas, California; Cheyenne Frontier Days; the Pendleton Roundup; the Super Bowl of Rodeo in Las Vegas; and of course, the Calgary Stampede. The author provides plenty of photographs to accompany the biographies of a number of talented women who traveled the rodeo circuit in the west. Not really Southwest []

Year or So in the Life of New Mexico, A: An Uncensored Look at Life in the Land of Enchantment
By Stacy Pearl. Fresco Fine Art Publications. 224 pp. $50.00.

New Mexico documented by fifty-one photographers in 475 photographs.
Pima County Website