Books

Patricia Etter's Picks

Arizona: A History
Bill Broyles almost said it all but I will add that Sheridan turned over multiple stones and burrowed under many more to produce a “must read” for anyone interested in the future of Arizona.
Desert Trader: The Life and Quilts of Goldie Tracy Richmond
Born in Kansas in 1896, Goldie Tracy Richmond learned how to shoot rabbits for the soup pot at an early age and once killed a bobcat bare-handed. She worked hard to survive, walked miles for water daily, frequently lived in little more than a shack, buried one husband and nursed a second. Larger than life (she weighed well over 300 pounds) the legendary Richmond ran a trading post on the Tohono O’odham reservation for more than 40 years, where she made countless friends. She’s remembered best, however, for her beautiful, hand appliqued quilts depicting scenes of the Sonoran Desert, each one now a collector’s item; many of them illustrate this remarkable book.
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexico's Struggle for Statehood
New Mexico’s sixty-four year attempt to become a state is the subject of this well-researched and lively book. Included in the narrative are accounts of how various senators, particularly Albert J. Beveridge (Indiana) and Nelson W. Aldrich (Rhode Island), fought hard to keep the status quo, truly believing that New Mexico’s ethnic and native populations were not quite ready for the responsibilities of statehood. It was also felt that the New Mexico landscape was too “different” and sparsely populated to merit statehood. Despite resistance, New Mexico finally become the 47th state, on January 6, 1912, a little more than a month before Arizona, which had been denied statehood for many of the same reasons.
Great Aridness, A: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest
A Cree proverb says it all: “Only when the last tree has withered and the last fish caught, and the last river poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” De Buys has done his homework to present this remarkable book that covers a myriad of subjects dealing with the changing environment in the Southwest. He has traveled extensively to study water politics, forest ecology, disappearing wildlife, rising temperatures, poisoned water, hydroelectric power, and an increasing population in an arid environment. It would be desirable if all politicians, developers, economists, and Arizonans read this book.
Great Taos Bank Robbery, The: And Other True Stories
Sometimes it is a treat to see a book reprinted, and in this case it’s a delight to be presented with nine essays and short vignettes delivered in true Hillerman form. It is almost like reading a brand new book, since its first edition was published some forty years ago. The author’s daughter, Anne Hillerman, provides a new introduction while Don Strel’s photographs update this second edition.
Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street
This is the excellent adventure of two guys who took off from Chicago in a rented, top-down convertible Mustang to explore the length of Route 66. They set out with agreed-upon Rules of the Road: there would to be no GPS or computerized mapping screen, they would not eat the same meal twice and they would stay at motels with the lowest rates. More significantly, they would never shortcut abandoned sections of the road no matter what conditions they encountered. This is where the 2400-mile adventure truly began, as they found themselves on roads that would stall a jeep. The “Mother Road” history provided by the adventurers may encourage readers to pack up and take off on their own before it all disappears.
Shadows on the Mesa: Artists of the Painted Desert and Beyond
One can get lost in this stunning volume and imagine being at the John and Louisa Wetherill’s dinner table in their Kayenta Trading Post and guest ranch any time between 1906 and 1943. One’s dinner companions could be Zane Grey, Oliver LaFarge, Maynard Dixon, Director, John Huston, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, Barry Goldwater and many, many more. The huge treat is to learn about the visitors and then be transported into the southwest for hours of enjoyment of spectacular views rendered by the artists. Many of the artists were also cartoonists and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat is here as well as James Swinnerton’s delightful Canyon Kiddies. This book is special.
State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream
This is a very readable account of Arizona’s leadership and the hot-button issues—including immigration and the ban on State funding for Ethnic Studies in Tucson—that have put the state in the national spotlight. Demonstrating that controversy is not new to Arizona, Biggers also recounts historic episodes of political showdowns and confrontations dating back decades that will intrigue students of history and politics alike.

About Patricia Etter

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

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