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Safeway in Arizona, A: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America
By Tom Zoellner. Viking. 276 pp. $26.95.
Top Pick
Less than a year after the event, Zoellner provides a thorough and thoughtful account of the Giffords shooting and its aftermath. Perhaps more importantly, he surveys the attitudes and politics that have come to represent what is often characterized as “our gun culture.” He does not pretend that gun control--a hot-button issue if ever there was one--is a simple matter with simple solutions. Instead he presents the views of a range of citizens, demonstrating how very, very difficult it will be to find common ground. []
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. []

Saguaro National Park
By Jane Eppinga. Arcadia Publishing. 127 pp. Index. $21.99.
Jane Eppinga has assembled several of these photo books, each more fun than the last. This one provides a photographic history of Saguaro National Park’s founders, rangers, superintendents, and visitors, as well as classic cactus landscape. Her captions add much to the story. []

Santa Fe Indian Market: A History of Native Arts and the Marketplace
By Bruce Bernstein. Museum of New Mexico Press. 151 pp. Index. $29.95.
In 1952 the Santa Fe Indian Market was some 30 years old and by that time, the Native women began marketing their pottery waiting for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad as it pulled into the station. I didn’t know it then when I briefly stepped off the Super Chief in Albuquerque and into another world. The women, in colorful Native dress, held small pieces of pottery in hand to sell to the tourists. This innocent from Canada was enthralled. Now, having read the above history of the Santa Fe Indian Market I can see that by 1952 many changes had taken place in promoting the arts by archaeologist Edward Hewett then Director of the Museum of New Mexico. People began to take notice and attend the yearly market in August. It wasn’t long before the crowds multiplied at what is now considered the premiere marketplace for Native art. The latest count for attendance was 100,000. Author Bernstein notes that “For some, Indian Market begins as a quiet whisper; for others, as a beautiful full-throated song.” A fine read that traces the evolution and acceptance of the creativity of our indigenous people. []

Santa Rita del Cobre: A Copper Mining Community in New Mexico
By Christopher Huggard, Terrence M. Humble. University Press of Colorado. 252 pp. Index. $45.00.
The legendary stone monument , the Kneeling Nun, will forever look down at a 1500-foot deep pit stretching one-and-a- half miles having given up millions of pounds of copper over 200 years. The village of Santa Rita once covered the pit but gradually disappeared when open pit mining was introduced. Thanks to Terry Humble, who grew up in the copper camp and later worked at the site, thousands of company records and photographs were saved. The mine closed down in 2007, but the rare pictures and maps in this volume are the only things left to record a detailed history of the town and mining into the 21st century. Thanks to Professor Christopher Huggard, a specialist in mining history, who brought the town back to life. []

Search for the Navajo Code Talkers
By Sally McClain. Rio Nuevo. 127 pp. Index. $12.95.
Sally McClain’s curiosity was aroused when she read a newspaper article about Navajo Marines. What on earth did the Navajo Marines do in the South Pacific in World War II? She writes about her personal journey to find answers and this small book records her personal interviews between 1988 and 1994 and subsequent friendship with many of the code talkers, including Carl Gorman and his wife Mary. Now in 2012, many have passed and McClain has reminisced about the “gentle honorable souls” who told about their lives and service in the United States Marine Corps. Readers need to know that Sally’s McClain was the first person to write about the code talkers and how they created their code in her 1994 book, Navajo Weapon, a scholarly and detailed account of the war in the Pacific where she uncovered the Code Talkers' secret language. That book was first published in 1994 by Books Beyond Borders and again in 2001 by Rio Nuevo Publishers. []

Senorita Gordita
By Helen Ketteman. Albert Whitman & Company. $16.99.
Arana (the spider) is cooking gorditas and one jumps up running off crying "Oh, no Arana! I'm one fast gordita! You can't catch me!" She runs past Lagarto, Crotolo, Escorpion, Javelina, Coyote and up to Buho, an owl on top of a sahuaro. Buho cajoles Gordita to climb up into the sahuaro and he munches her into crumbs.
This vibrant picture book is a retellling of the gingerbread man but set in the Southwest surrounded by cactus, cowboy hats, arroyos and dust. It would be fun to read aloud to a group of kids. []

Shadow Catcher, The: A U.S. Agent Infiltrates Mexico's Deadly Crime Cartels
By Hipolito Acosta, Lisa Pulitzer. Atria Books. 255 pp. $24.99.
Special agent Acosta of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, who frequently worked undercover for long periods, had a long career of investigating and imprisoning smugglers, counterfeiters, and drug dealers in the U.S. and Mexico. The book reads like a crime novel, but is all the more effective because it’s factual. The reader is left with horror at the viciousness of these criminals, wonder at the resilience of the migrants who sacrifice all in hopes of a better life, and awe for people like Acosta, himself a Hispanic Texan, who put themselves at risk in order to bring these crooks to justice. Clearly and simply written, this book rings true. []

Shadows on the Mesa: Artists of the Painted Desert and Beyond
By Gary Fillmore. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. Index. $69.99.
Top Pick
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. []
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.
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Shortage of Bodies, A
By Gary McKay. Amethyst Moon Publishing. 301 pp. $14.99.
When Jerry Morgan, the Sheriff of Desert County, AZ, opens a box left in his yard, he finds it contains small human fingers. And that is just the beginning! McKay, author of numerous professional publications, here takes a crack at fiction with mixed results. He nails the Southern Arizona desert setting, but the dialog of his characters sometimes makes the reader say to himself “No one would say that.” []

Sixty Miles of Border: An American Lawman Battles Drugs on the Mexican Border
By Terry Kirkpatrick. Berkley Books. 327 pp. $15.00.
Sometimes a photograph says it all. In this case, the author poses with a fellow customs agent at the back of their vehicle, each hoisting an automatic weapon in one hand and a cold beer in the other. In his profanity laced and adrenaline fueled memoir, Kirkpatrick recounts two decades of harrowing experiences in border law enforcement, while paying tribute to the "crazy, dedicated characters" who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him in the field. Kirkpatrick may not be the most polished writer, or even the most sympathetic character, but his unvarnished account of the chaotic world of drug kingpins, bureaucratic incompetents, and freewheeling lawmen has the ring of truth - and its more than a little scary. []

Skeleton Picnic, The
By Michael Norman. Poisoned Pen Press. 249 pp. $24.95.
Pot hunting, or stealing Native American artifacts, is the focus of this latest mystery that brings BLM Ranger J.D. Books and his friend, Sheriff Charley Sutter, together again. A couple of known pot-hunters have disappeared and their home has been ransacked. Many items from their “collection” are missing. Their trailer and other equipment are found abandoned near an archaeological ruin on the Arizona Strip. So begins this so-so mystery which follows a rather standard path involving the usual suspects as well as the usual conflicts between government agencies. []

Skirting Traditions: Arizona Women Writers and Journalists 1912-2012
By Carol Hughes, ed, Lois McFarland, ed, June Payne, ed, Sheila Roe, ed, Pam Stevenson, ed, Brenda Warneka, ed. Wheatmark. 298 pp. Index. $22.95.
The twenty-eight unique women on this list all broke with traditional expectations because they wanted to work at writing – not so easy in the early days. Most came to Arizona from somewhere else and put their diverse skills to work, often at a disadvantage in the so-called “man’s world" of journalism. It was not long before Arizona Press Women, Inc. was founded, and the authors of this anthology are award-winning members of that organization. It is fitting that these women were honored during Arizona’s Centennial celebration. []

So Damn Lucky
By Deborah Coonts. Forge. 381 pp. $24.99.
Welcome to Las Vegas, NV, for the third Lucky O’Toole adventure. Lucky, whom you may remember from two previous outings, is the PR person for a mega-resort appropriately named “The Babylon.” People always seem to be dying and/or disappearing within her area of responsibility! This is a pleasant read filled with wisecracks, nutty people and enough suspense to help you through a long airplane ride. []

Sofia and the Purple Dress / Sofia Y El Vestido Morado
By Diane Gonzales Bertrand. Pinata Books. $17.95.
A didactic bilingual children's picture book about a young girl named Sofia who wants to fit into a purple dress for her cousin's quinceanera. The dress doesn't fit so she must go on a diet and start exercising.
Amazingly the purple dress fits Sofia at the end of the story and everyone is happy. []

Soledad Crucifixion, The
By Nancy Wood. University of New Mexico Press. 325 pp. $21.95.
Top Pick
It’s circa 1897 in a remote Indian village in New Mexico’s Sangre Cristo Mountains. Priest Lorenzo Soledad has chosen to be crucified in order to save the primitive village from takeover by the government. The priest, tortured by doubt and conflicted between the teachings of the Church and the beliefs of the natives, is further agonized by the internal struggle of his lustful nature against his yearning for holiness. Cast out by the Church but yet not understood by the Indians, Soledad will eventually be canonized. Lyrical, mystical, original, irreverent, philosophical, and comical, this novel captures the essence of culture clashes in New Mexico.

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Southeastern Arizona Mining Towns
By William Ascarza. Arcadia Publishing. 126 pp. $21.99.
As with all the volumes in the “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing, this tightly-focused volume provides a visual survey of its topic by means of reproducing more than 200 photos with lengthy captions. Each of the six chapters has a short introductory essay setting the scene for these photo galleries with such titles as 'Small Mining Towns and Localities' and 'The Process.' Although not located in Arizona a separate chapter covers that just-south-of-the-border mining town, Cananea. []
This book is divided into sections: early mining, large mining districts, small mining districts, Cananea (MX), the process and the product. It has a bibliography, two maps showing the districts, and hundreds of black and white photos, but no index. Reading it is like visiting a photography exhibit with didactics. While each chapter has a one-page introduction, the bulk of the text is dedicated to explaining the photographs. This handbook provides a general overview but would not be useful as a guidebook or research tool for specific mines. []

Southwest Reflections: Grand Canyon and The Four Corners
By Steve Larese. Schiffer. 144 pp. $29.99.
More than 200 bright, color photographs of scenes throughout our region make this a perfect gift for that relative back in the wintry Midwest dreaming about a winter vacation to warmer climes! []
This is a stunning collection of colored photographs of glorious vistas within a few hundred miles of the Four Corners area. The only text is a one-page introduction opposite a print of The Navajo Beauty Way Ceremony, and the brief captions accompanying each photograph. A list of sources for tourist information is given at the back. A map of the area would have been helpful. This is an inspirational book for browsing, encouraging travel, or reminiscing about places previously visited, but it wouldn’t serve as a travel guide. []

Spanish Colonial Settlement Landscapes of New Mexico, 1598-1680, The
By Elinore Barrett. University of new Mexico Press. 280 pp. Index. $49.95.
Tackling a very difficult task, Barrett synthesizes limited historical and archaeological data to create “landscapes," or collective pictures, of topics related to the early years of Spanish occupancy of the region. Aimed at academic professionals, her categories begin broadly with such chapters as 'The Pueblo Landscape' then move to specific geographic areas such as 'The Villa of Santa Fe', 'The Santo Domingo Basin' and 'The Southern Rio Grande Region.' Not intended as easy reading, this is a volume for serious research collections, both personal and institutional. []

State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream
By Jeff Biggers. Nation Books. 277 pp. Index. $25.99.
Top Pick
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.
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Superstition Wilderness Trails West: Hikes, Horse Rides and History
By Jack Carlson, Elizabeth Stewart. Clear Creek Publishing. 416 pp. Index. $16.95.
Wilderness seekers, even those who ride horses, will find this remarkable book a backpack/saddlebag necessity. It provides info on more than 80 possible trails with topo sheet excerpts for guidance. For many of the trails it has a “history and legends” section, and there is an index as well as a reading list. This book updates the Carlson and Stewart guide of more than 15 years ago which covered the entire Superstition area, and an upgraded guide for the eastern portion is promised! []
Wizened prospectors, dry washes in flood, treasure maps, frontier history, and hiking instructions combine to make this a must-own book about the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona. The accounts are exciting and the trails inviting. It is the companion book to Superstition Wilderness Trails East, another splendid book. []

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