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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.

Ahead of the Flaming Front: A Life on Fire
By Jerry D. Mathes II. Caxton Press. 260 pp. $17.95.

Authentic wildland firefighter Jerry Mathes takes on the fire line with him and his hotshot crew, and by the end of his fast-paced battles against fire and bad bosses, we admire the men and women on the line. One chapter occurs in the Southwest.
All the Land to Hold Us
By Rick Bass. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $25.00.
Top Pick
What possible sustenance can a love sick young geologist, a despairing woman whose marriage withered 30 years earlier, and a one-legged treasure hunter take from the forbidding West Texas desert? It’s a place where passions bleed out and dreams come to die, where only the toxic greed for artifacts, salt and oil survive. But, “a strange and powerful landscape summons strange and powerful happenings,” according the author, so even though the searing heat can roast an elephant and the quicksand of the deadly drifting salt flats are dotted with the skeletons of luckless adventurers, the possibility of redemption persists at the place where their stories intersect. In this lyrical tour de force, Bass, the winner of multiple awards for both fiction and nonfiction, creates a desert dreamscape somewhere beyond the edge of reason, where the improbable meets the surreal and the surreal bumps up against the truly bizarre, and populates it with characters as vivid as their extraordinary setting is starkly unforgettable. []

American Indian Tribes of the Southwest
By Michael G. Johnson. Osprey Publishing. 48 pp. Index. This book continues Osprey's series of Men-at-Arms titles on the history, costume, and material culture of the native peoples of North America, which is organized into geographical regions, language groups, and tribes. . $17.95.
If you remember those Cliff Notes study guides from your college days, you might think of this as a slightly expanded version for southwestern native Americans. Some groups (e.g., Cocopa) get as little as a sentence or two, others (e.g., Navajo) more than a full page! Accurate text and illustrations could make this a useful aid in writing high school level research papers. []

Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas: With Keys, Taxonomic Synopses, Bibliography, and Distribution Maps
By James R. Dixon. Texas A&M University Press. 447 pp. Index. $39.95.
This revised and updated version of a serious nature guide features identification keys, taxonomy, photos, and distribution maps for scholars and serious collectors. For hikers and campers, there is less information on habitat, life cycle, and habits than one might want. Texas sports an impressive array of frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, and salamanders – and even the American alligator. []

And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border
By David Niewert. Nation Books. 336 pp. Index. $26.99.
In this carefully researched and annotated book, investigative reporter David Neiwert focuses on the 2009 Arivaca, AZ murders of Raul "Junior" Flores and his nine-year-old daughter Brisenia to explore the roots and manifestations of the Minuteman movement of the of the early 2000's. Seeing in it racist, nativist threads leading back to the 1890's Know Nothing party, the Ku Klux Klan, and the John Birch Society, Neiwert argues that the movement was an iteration of along-standing (still extant) American bigotry that was able to capitalize on the far-right media. The story he traces of Shawna Ford, the splinter Minuteman group leader who led the deadly home invasion, is a truly harrowing depiction of ignorance and delusion. []

And We Danced: More Oral Histories from Yavapai County, Arizona
By Mona Lange McCroskey. HollyBear Press. Index. .
Top Pick
Anyone with even a slight interest in northern Arizona's Yavapai County and its population center, Prescott, will find this large book fascinating. It is loaded with more than 800 photographs of people and events, but the real substance of this volume is the memories it contains. McCroskey interviewed old-timers, sure, but she also reached out to those somewhat younger folks with something to say about this place they love, and the old-timers they knew. A browser's delight. []

Angel Baby
By Richard Lange. Mulholland Books. 304 pp. $26.00.
Lange keeps readers perched on the edges of their seats in this jet-propelled thriller that follows a cartel boss's wife on her desperate flight from Tijuana to escape an abusive marriage and reunite with her child in L.A. Razer-sharp writing, breathless pacing, rich characters, and intricate storytelling from shifting viewpoints make for a wild ride across the Southern California desert. []

Animal Stories: A Lifetime Collection
By Max Evans. University of Oklahoma Press. 415 pp. $24.95.
All of the 26 stories that appear in this collection have been previously published, but fans of cowboy and western humor who remember Evans' mega-hits "Hi-Lo Country" and The Rounders" will be delighted to have this book on their shelves. []

Arizona Rocks! A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Grand Canyon State
By T. Scott Bryan. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 106 pp. Index. $18.00.
Retired geologist/educator Bryan makes finding and enjoying more than 40 Arizona sites a pleasure. Excellent color photographs and easy to interpret maps supplement the easy-reading text (almost jargon-free). Terrific book. []
Former park geologist and professor Scott Bryan knows how to excite our wonder for rocks and mountains. He takes us by paved road to 44 fascinating places like Kartchner Caverns, Meteor Crater, Apache Spring, Horseshoe Bend, and Willcox Playa. I was especially interested in his accounts of the large earth fissures, the helium field, and Tonto Bridge. With this readable book in hand, you’ll need to leave time for side trips on your next drive across Arizona. []

Artists of New Mexico Traditions: The National Heritage Fellows
By Michael Pettit. Museum of New Mexico Press. 164 pp. Index. $29.95.
Detailed history and profiles of New Mexico's Heritage Fellows, a total of 15, the most of any state. Recognized artists include tinworkers, weavers, potters, storytellers, musicians, santeros, and wood carvers. A fine tribute, handsomely illustrated in color. []

At the Border of Empires: The Tohono O'odham, Gender, and Assimilation, 1880-1934
By Andrae M. Marak, Laura Tuennerman. University of Arizona Press. 209 pp. Index. $55.00.
Top Pick
In more ways than one, the Tohono O’odham have been buffeted by conflicting outside forces. Their traditional homeland lies in the Sonoran Desert, so after the Gadsden Purchase, the newly forged national boundary sliced it in two. National policies toward indigenous peoples differed then, so the O’odham were treated differently in the US from Mexico. Having determined that indigenous peoples are savage and in need of “civilizing,” the US government, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Presbyterian Church all set about reorganizing economic structures, gender roles. and forced assimilation in competing—and self-serving—ways. This book relates that interesting, sobering, story. []
This in-depth study of feuding missionaries and conniving Indian agents trying to educate and “civilize” Native Americans provides a gripping tale of paternalism, racism, and exploitation. That the peaceful Tohono O’odham survived and flourished is a tribute to them and their cultural strength. What sounds like dry reading actually provides a treat of insight, heroes, and enduring lessons of family, religion, culture, and politics. The authors share enough personal cases to breathe life into concepts like assimilation, rights, and gender discrimination, but they don’t overlook the ironies and difficulties imposed upon good people. Probably like the O’odham themselves did, we have to shake our heads at misguided bureau programs such as employing unmarried matrons to teach the virtue of marriage to mothers and fathers already married under tribal custom and raising healthy children. []

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