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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America
By Gustavo Arellano. Scribner. 310 pp. Index. $25.00.
Who really invented taco chips, the chimichanga and the Sonoran Hot Dog? Gustavo Arelleno, whose syndicated column “Ask A Mexican!” has a circulation of more than two million readers, offers an amazing and amusing history of Mexican cuisine in the US including such subjects as Taco Bell, the Margarita and the invention of the pastrami burrito. []

Territory, The: A Novel
By Tricia Fields. Minotaur Books. 278 pp. $24.99.
This novel captures the realities of current border issues, the challenges of weather and politics in West Texas, the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s world and the loneliness of individuals who deal with these issues, all set against the backdrop of a mysterious killing. This top-notch read won the Tony Hillerman Prize for Mystery in 2011. []
Josie Gray, police chief of the small Texas town of Artemis, has just two other officers and a small office staff. Partly because she’s female she gets little respect from anyone. Just across the Rio Grande the equally small Mexican town of Piedra Labrada is a hotbed focus for drug wars and as the hostility and killings mount she finds herself very much alone in the battle, without support even from those citizens who should be on her side. This smoothly-written first novel won the 2011 Tony Hillerman prize. []

Texas Amphibians: A Field Guide
By Terry Hibbitts, Toby Hibbitts, Troy Hibbitts, Travis Laduc, Bob Tipton. University of Texas Press. 309 pp. Index. $24.95.
Although fewer of the many Texas salamanders, toads, frogs, sirens, waterdogs, and newts live in what we call the arid Southwest, this book covers them in great detail with range maps, descriptions, habits and habitats, and interesting details of their lives. The richly illustrated volume is the size and quality of a Peterson Guide, suited for pocket or glovebox. A great book for the serious student or amateur naturalist. []

Texas, My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boy
By Lonn Taylor. Texas Christian University Press. 197 pp. $22.95.
Taylor’s musings, 53 of them in all, first appeared in his column in the "Big Bend Sentinel," a weekly published in Marfa, TX. With titles such as “Real Cowboys Don’t Have Time to Sing” and “Wigfall Van Sickle, the Sage of Alpine” you can expect a treat, and Taylor delivers. The characters in his essays are sometimes well-known--Sam Bass, for example, is here-- but more often they are grandparents, great-aunts and distant cousins, each adding a tiny piece to that grand “folkloristic quilt” we call Texas. []

Thinking Like a Watershed: Voices from the West
By Celestia Loeffler, ed., Jack Loeffler, ed.. University of New Mexico Press. 280 pp. $24.95.

In thoughtful interviews and essays eleven Southwesterners look our future square in the eye and ask “where’s the water?” Can we preserve diverse cultures and landscapes? Their views will inspire and may surprise you.
To Hell or the Pecos
By Patrick Dearen. Texas Christian University press. 197 pp. $22.95.

Crime and revenge drive desperate people deeper into the Pecos country as novelist Patrick Dearen spins a Western about the landscape he knows so well and the people he met in real history. The action comes fast and furious.
Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Nineteenth Century
By Bruce A. Glasrud, ed, Harold J. Weiss, Jr., ed. University of North Texas Press. 358 pp. Index. $29.95.
Glasrud and Weiss have gathered together 15 articles by noted scholars, as well as a photo gallery, describing the activities of Texas Rangers from the 1820s through 1903. The topics range from the Comanche raid of 1840 to labor troubles in the 1890s, and from outlaw pursuits to dealings with Hispanics and Native Americans. The editors do a splendid job of displaying the shift from traditional to revisionist interpretations of ranger history. Newcomers to the topic will appreciate the helpful timeline and selected bibiliography. []
This is an edifying collection of 15 previously-published articles on Texas Ranger history. Arranged chronologically from the Rangers’ inception in the early 1800s to the present day, the articles portray diverse points of view about the Rangers, from heroic saviors to barbarian racist criminals and various assessments in between. It was interesting to consider their changing roles from protectors of Anglo Texans against Native American and Mexican depredations, to major military support in the Mexican-American War (1846-8), to professional lawmen protecting citizens against criminals, and finally, their current status as part of the Department of Public Safety. This collection provides a wealth of information but draws no conclusions, except that Ranger history is complicated. []

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
By Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Hill and Wang. 152 pp. $22.00.
When we see “graphic” in the title, or subtitle, we may think “unsophisticated” but this book is not. Fetter-Vorm’s illustrations let us recognize characters such as Szilard, Oppenheimer and, of course, Einstein, involved in the development of the atomic bomb and its ultimate testing at New Mexico’s Trinity site near Los Alamos. He tells the complete story from earliest “atomic” ideas to the devastation in Japan. So, in some sense, this sophisticated comic book is not southwestern, it is universal. []

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