Books

Margaret Loghry's Picks

Arizona: A Celebration of the Grand Canyon State
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.
Cow Country Cooking: Recipes and Tales from Northern Arizona's Historic Ranches
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.
Desert Towers: Fat Cat Summits and Kitty Litter Rock
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.
Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
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!
Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man
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.
Navajos Wear Nikes: A Reservation Life
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.”
Old Border Road: A Novel
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.
Quincy Tahoma: The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist
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.
Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
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.

About Margaret Loghry

Loghry is a former teacher of language arts, high school teacher-librarian, and library administrator for Tucson Unified School District. She is currently a docent for the Tucson Museum of Art. “Coming to the Southwest was an instant love affair, one of the happy accidents of my life.”

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