Books

Bill Broyles' Picks

Arizona: A History
Sheridan’s is simply the best book on Arizona history ever written. Ignore at your peril; read to your delight. Sheridan is our guide with a flashlight on a dark night, spinning the real story and making sense out of the state’s history from ancient mammoth hunters to modern water traders. This revised edition updates and expands a previous, masterful edition.
Bats of Texas
Bats are fascinating, and even though this book focuses on Texas, it is a wealth of information about Southwest bats in general. Another outstanding edition of the Texas A&M Nature Guides, it covers the latest studies, startling facts, details about bats’ lives, classification keys and the latest nomenclature. Exquisite photos portray each of the 33 species discussed, from nectar eaters to vampires, and maps show their known ranges. A standard reference for years to come.
Estampas de la Raza: Contemporary Prints from the Romo Collection
The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio has hung a magnificent display of Chicano art, mostly posters, and many of them already famously recognizable. This book, a catalogue for the exhibit, presents splendid reproductions of the original lithographs and screen prints, and provides illuminating discussions of the Romo collection, cultural borders, struggles, themes and icons by curator Lyle W. Williams and others. Most memorable for me are the posters ‘Yo Soy-ee Blaxican,’ ‘Tan lejos de Díos, tan cerca de los Estados Unidos,’ ‘Human Denial,’ and ‘John.’ The text is in English and includes short bios of the artists.
Great Aridness, A: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest
If someone tells you that your home is catching fire and your well is going dry, how would you react? In a series of compelling, insightful interviews, William deBuys carefully explains what the hydrologist, the forester, the archeologist, the rancher, the farmer, and the city planner are warning us about: our arid Southwest climate is becoming warmer and drier. You may have already noticed. But what have you done about it? Why not start by reading this book.
Hisat'sinom: Ancient Peoples in a Land Without Water
Until reading this book it has been difficult for me to imagine windswept Wupatki ruin in northern Arizona as a crossroads community, busy and cosmopolitan, but it was. In a series of twenty beautifully written and lushly illustrated chapters, experts tell what life was like before and after the Sunset Crater eruptions nine centuries ago, and how the architecture and culture were influenced from afar by the Hohokam of southern Arizona and the Chaco residents of northwestern New Mexico. It’s a revealing book smoothly done.
In the Shadow of the Carmens: Afield with a Naturalist in the Northern Mexican Mountains
For years we’ve heard about a magnificent but mysterious set of mountains in Mexico, just across the river from Big Bend National Park in Texas. Grand scenery, a menagerie of wild animals, picturesque waterfalls and a frontier lifestyle were hidden behind locked gates. Now we can at least peek over the fence, for biologist Bonnie McKinney shares her enormous appreciation and knowledge of the Maderas de Carmen where she has worked since 2001. She tags bears for study, counts eagles, searches for rare moles and catalogues plants. It is a well-told adventure of discovery in a place we hope to someday visit, and the book’s photographs confirm its world-class scenery and wildlife.
Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary Artistry
Whether you wish to marvel at beautiful Southwest jewelry or learn the definitive story of this official state necktie of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, this lushly-illustrated book will please you. Produced in cooperation with the Heard Museum in Phoenix, many significant bolo ties, crafts-persons and designs are represented. Primarily made by Hopis or Navajos, these artful and symbolic ties range in design from traditional to comic, commemorative to abstract. Bolo ties deserve your second look.
Safeway in Arizona, A: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America
Because of overwhelming sadness and anger it was weeks before I could pick up this book and months before I could read it through, but I’m glad I did. Following the January 2011 mass shooting of innocent people, including a congresswoman, we in Tucson have struggled to cope, and newsman Zoellner provides a compelling discussion of the events while asking “are we who we think we are?” At least two other books from this horrific crime show how people recover from unprovoked terror: "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope" by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly and "As Good As She Imagined: The Redeeming Story of the Angel of Tucson, Christina Taylor-Green" by Roxanna Green and Jerry B. Jenkins.
Shadows on the Mesa: Artists of the Painted Desert and Beyond
Don’t open this book if you have a bus to catch, for you’ll be late. It is an enthralling and sumptuous look at the art of artists who stayed at a remote red-rock lodge run by the Wetherills on the Colorado Plateau between 1909 and 1943. The names paint a who’s who of Southwestern art: Maynard Dixon, James Swinnerton, William Robinson Leigh, Carl Oscar Borg, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Marjorie Thomas, Gunnar Widforss, Buck Weaver, Adee Dodge, and dozens more. Not only are the copious paintings and drawings splendidly reproduced, they are accompanied by wonderful stories and anecdotes about the artists and their Navajo and Hopi subjects. It is a grand tour for any reader.
Virgin of Guadalupe, The: Art and Legend
One of the enduring symbols of the Southwest is the Virgin of Guadalupe, who appears in paintings, statues, tapestries and stained glass windows in nearly every town and village. In a splendid array of color photographs, John Annerino brings us the mystique and the art as never before. His stories ring true, the pages are sumptuous, and both the art and legends will fascinate the curious and the faithful. This may be the most beautifully done Southwest book of 2012.

About Bill Broyles

Broyles is a research associate at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, and he is already looking forward to next year’s crop of books!

Pima County Website