Books

Notable Books

These books, although not selected as Top Picks, are worthy of special notice.

F  indicates fiction.

Alexandre Hogue: An American Visionary: Paintings and Works on Paper
By Susie Kalil. Texas A&M University Press. 232pp. 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. []
Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs
By Debra Weyermann. Chicago Review Press. 386pp. 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. 432pp. 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. 127pp. $21.99.
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. []
Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them
By Randy Christensen. Broadway Books. 270pp. $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. 272pp. $15.00. F.
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!
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Begging for Vultures: New and Selected Poems: 1994-2009
By Lawrence Welsh. University of New Mexico Press. 198pp. $21.95. F.
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. 312pp. 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. []
Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, and Little-Known Stories from History
By Tricia Martineau Wagner. TwoDot. 179pp. 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 []
Blood Desert: Witnesses, 1820-1880
By Renny Golden. University of New Mexico Press. 76pp. $16.95. F.
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. []
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. 376pp. Index. $34.95.
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. []
Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants
By Carolyn Niethammer. University of Arizona Press. 194pp. 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. []
Crazy From the Heat: A Chronicle of Twenty Years in the Big Bend
By James Evans. University of Texas Press. 192pp. $55.00.
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. []
Cross Over Water: A Novel
By Richard Yanez. University of Nevada Press. 204pp. $22.00. F.
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. []
Death Clouds on Mount Baldy
By Cathy Hufault. Arizona Mountain Publications. 271pp. $22.95.
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.
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Dine Tah: My Reservation Days, 1923-1939
By Alwin J. Girdner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 356pp. $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. []
Drug Lord: The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin: A True Story
By Terrence E. Poppa. Cinco Puntos Press. 346pp. 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. 188pp. 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. 269pp. Index. $24.95.
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. []
Education Beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929
By Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert. University of Nebraska Press. 272pp. 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. []
Empire: Poems
By , Xochiquetzal Candelaria. University of Arizona Press. 80pp. $15.95.
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!” []
Eugene B. Adkins Collection, The
By Jane Aebersold, Christina Burke, James Peck, B. Byron Price . University of Oklahoma Press . 304pp. 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.

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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.

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Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife
By Philip Fradkin. University of California Press. 279pp. 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. []
Father Kino's Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today
By Jacqueline Soule. Tierra del Sol Institute. 112pp. 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. 463pp. $26.99. F.
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. 368pp. Index. $29.95.
Now a professor at East Carolina University, Maril lived and taught for 17 years along the Texas-Mexico border. His account of how we have gone wrong, and how far, analyzes both political and legal events. He quotes from interviews with a wide range of knowledgeable people that includes border patrol officers as well as politicians, one of them in Dubuque (yes, that one in Iowa). A wide-ranging and thoughtful look at what may be our nation’s most pressing and depressing problem. []
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. 352pp. Index. $45.00.
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. 400pp. $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. []
Forced to Abandon Our Fields: The 1914 Clay Southworth Gila River Pima Interviews
By David H. DeJong. University of Utah Press. 177pp. 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. 389pp. 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. []
Fracture
By Susan Cummins Miller. Texas Tech University Press. 280pp. $24.95. F.
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. []
From This Wicked Patch of Dust
By Sergio Troncoso. University of Arizona Press. 229pp. $17.95. F.
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. 384pp. 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. []
Grand Canyon, The: From Rim to River
By Caroline Cook, Jim Turner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 62pp. $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. []
Here I am a Writer
By Christopher McIlroy. Kitsune Books. 247pp. $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.
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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. []
Homeless in Las Vegas: Stories From the Street
By Kurt Borchard. University of Nevada Press. 239pp. 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. []
Immigration Law and the U.S.- Mexico Border: Si se puede?
By Kevin Johnson, Bernard Trujillo. University of Arizona Press. 294pp. $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. 232pp. $50.00.
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. 178pp. Index. $39.95.
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. []
Jar of Severed Hands, The: Spanish Deportation of Apache Prisoners of War, 1770-1810
By Mark Santiago. University of Oklahoma Press. 258pp. 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. 145pp. 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. 32pp. $8.95. F.
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.
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Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man
By David Remley. University of Oklahoma Press. 320pp. Index. $24.95.
Although it may seem as though there’s nothing new to say about Kit Carson, Remley offers an interesting perspective on this legendary frontiersman, examining how his life and exploits reflected his Scots-Irish heritage, values and culture. The book is rich in the lore of the Santa Fe Trail, the fur trade, the Conquest of California and the Indian Wars, and also features a veritable Who’s Who of significant personalities of the time. The volume is a good read and neither glorifies nor vilifies Carson, whom Remley says was “dependable, ethical, relatively open-minded and committed to loyalty and duty.” []
La Llorona: The Crying Woman
By Rudolfo Anaya. University of New Mexico Press. 39pp. $19.95. F.
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. []
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. 392pp. Index. $27.00.
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. []
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 . 232pp. 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!” []
Levis & Lace: Arizona Women Who Made History
By Jan Cleere. Rio Nuevo. 196pp. $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. []
Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona
By Frank S. Rose. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press. 201pp. 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. 226pp. 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. []
New American Family, A: A Love Story
By Peter Likins. University of Arizona Press. 179pp. 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!
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Ninth Day, The
By Jamie Freveletti. HarperCollins. 384pp. $9.99. F.
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. []
Out of This World: New Mexico's Contributions to Space Travel
By Loretta Hall. Rio Grande Books. 175pp. 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. []
Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints
By Sam Brower. Bloomsbury USA. 323pp. 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. []
Pueblo Peoples on the Pajarito Plateau: Archaeology and Efficiency
By David E. Stuart. University of New Mexico Press. 143pp. $19.95.
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. []
Randy Lopez Goes Home: A Novel
By Rudolfo Anaya. University of Oklahoma Press. 168pp. $19.95. F.
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. []
Raptors of the West: Captured in Photographs
By Kate Davis. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 242pp. 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. []
Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism
By , Bradley G. Shreve. University of Oklahoma Press. 274pp. 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.

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Reining in the Rio Grande: People, Land, and Water
By Mary Black, G. Emlen Hall, Fred Phillips. University of New Mexico Press. 262pp. 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. 122pp. $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. []
Route 66: Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion
By Tom Snyder. Griffin. 208pp. $15.99.
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.” []
Sedona & Red Rock Country
By Kathleen Bryant. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 64pp. $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. []
Sonora Noose, The
By Jackson Lowry. Berkley Books. 275pp. $5.99. F.
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 Comfort Food: Slow and Savory
By Marilyn Noble. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 145pp. 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. 275pp. 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. 95pp. $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.

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Spy's Guide to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, A
By E.B. Held. University of New Mexico Press. 95pp. Index. $19.95.
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. []
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. 244pp. 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. 167pp. Index. $24.95.
Wow. This collection of 68 stunningly beautiful paintings brings Southwestern wildlife to life. Just as the 28 artists saw new and revealing details in ocelots, western burrowing owls, ironwood trees, and Apache trout, so do we. I have never so fully appreciated the “faces” of flowers and critters as in these portraits. Essays by Michael Baldwin and Richard C. Brusca tell us more about each featured entry and explain why its circle is vanishing. A beautiful, thoughtful book. []
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. []
Weekends with O'Keeffe
By C.S. Merrill, Georgia O'Keeffe. University of New Mexico Press. 238pp. 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. 327pp. 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. []
Wild Horses of the West: History and Politics of America's Mustangs
By J. Edward De Steiguer. University of Arizona Press. 296pp. Index. $24.95.
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. []
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