By Lisa Barrow
Joseph P. Sánchez · Robert L. Spude · Art Gómez
(University of Oklahoma Press · hardcover · $26.95)
Moving at a breakneck speed to accommodate more than five centuries in under 400 pages, this new history of what became the 47th state nonetheless squeezes in plenty of updated, informed detail. Complex historical strands have fashioned New Mexico—water rights, colonization, migration, atomic technology, casinos—and we’re still tangling with them today. This book’s ambition, say the authors, is to take those strands and connect them to “a global context.” Hear more for yourself at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW), where all three authors will converge at 3pm on Saturday, Oct. 19. Spude and Gómez (minus Sánchez) will also be at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe (202 Galisteo) on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 6pm. If histories aren’t usually your thing but you love New Mexico, here’s my advice: Don’t feel like you’ve got to read this linearly. Just browse the index and dip in with a name you half-recognize or the town your grandparents lived in—you’ll end up immersed before you know it.
Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In & Out of Love During the Cold War
(Xeno Books · hardcover/paperback · $26.95/$19.95)
A vast American Air Force base, constructed in a substantially Communist region of Cold War-era France, became a significant social, political and economic force remembered long after it ceased operations in 1966. After purchasing a home in central France, Placitas-based author Steve Bassett came across the story, virtually unknown in the US, and began the hundreds of hours of interviews with both American and French sources that ultimately became Golden Ghetto. Bassett’s old-school journalistic approach and fondness for polysyllabics is fused with an enthusiastic storytelling style. His chapter titles and subtitles—like “Escaping, Eggs, and Betrayal, ” “Communists Eating Popcorn” and “Séances and Pink Ladies”—especially capture the vivacity of his voice. In Bassett’s hand, even the account of an interview the journalist failed to obtain advances our understanding of the historical climate. Bassett helms the New Mexico launch of his book at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7pm.
(Bantam Books · hardcover · $25)
Let’s be honest: Louis L’Amour’s name emblazoned in inch-high letters on the cover of this new graphic novel is pretty much ceremonial marketing voodoo at this point. “Based on” a L’Amour story, this adaptation by Charles Santino actually draws on a screenplay penned by Beau L’Amour, Louis L’Amour’s son. The screenplay was based on a teleplay that Beau, along with writing partner Katherine Nolan, put together for Bantam Audio Publishing in the ’90s—a teleplay that used only the title and the ending of a L’Amour short story and invented the rest from whole cloth. Direct from the mouth of the master this is not. But still, aficionados of pulp Western storytelling will find a lot to like in the Southwestern landscapes depicted in skilled b&w paintings by Thomas Yeates and the expected cast of ranch-hands and roustabouts. The story centers on New Mexico Territory in 1887, when a terrible drought pits neighbor against neighbor after an act of small-minded revenge kindles a spiral of violence.
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