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Southwest Books of Year 2013 Award Winners

What a great way to start the New Year! Three press titles were included in the annual Southwest Books of the Year competition, run by our friends at the Pima County Public Library. Baja California Missions by David Burckhalter with photos by David Burckhalter and Mina Sedgwick was named to the Best Reading 2013 list, while At the Border of Empires by Andrae M. Marak and Laura Tuennerman and Mapping Wonderlands by Dori Griffin were called out by the panel's prestigous readers as best books.

Other books from the roundup were also reviewed, including Brewing Arizona by Ed Sipos and Indian Resilience and Rebuilding by Donald L. Fixico. To see the complete list please just click here.

Here are just some of the reviews:

Baja California Missions is part coffee table art-and-architecture book, part travel account, part guide book, and a little 17th and 18th century history. David Bruckhalter and Mina Sedgwick present the eight Spanish missions remaining on the peninsula where Roman Catholic missionaries established thirty-four missions to “conquer, congregate, and convert” Baja’s four indigenous tribes. The missions were abandoned after more than 90 percent of the population perished from European-introduced disease, but the stone buildings survive. Bruckhalter and Sedgwick’s photographs are hauntingly beautiful--from landscapes through exterior and interior architectural shots, to details of the baroque altars, statuary, and art; they capture caretakers, restorers, participants in festivals, even Sedgwick herself. The book offers maps and directions for reaching the sites by car; it invites a road trip. [Christine Wald-Hopkins]

At the Border of Empires
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. [Bill Broyles]

Mapping Wonderlands
There has been little scholarship on the methods used to package Arizona and promote it as a tourist destination in the first half of the twentieth century, but now "Mapping Wonderlands" provides an insightful look at the role cartography played in luring tourists to a little-understood state. Eye-catching illustrated maps that painted an Arizona rich in culture and natural wonders established it as a tourist mecca in the minds of the traveling public. Enhancing the state’s vacation appeal was the goal, even when it led cartographers to include a highway or two that were yet to be built, or to fudge the distance between attractions. Author Dori Griffin gives historical context to the themes employed by the mapmakers (natural landscape, man-made environment, indigenous culture) and seals her case for the importance of cartography in picturing Arizona as a vacationer’s wonderland with the inclusion of sixty-six well-explicated maps that, had they been presented in color, would have increased reader appeal, but are no less intriguing for the lack of it. This fine book has important things to say about how the way Arizona told its story in the past impacts the way Arizonans, and the rest of the world, perceive the state today. [Helene Woodhams]


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