Oct 16, 201211:59 AMThe Telegraph
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Western Words: New Books For Oct. 16, 2012
Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait, by Craig Varjabedian
"The one thing that never changes is that moment of recognition when I feel the play of light, shadow, and texture resolve itself into something amazing," wrote Craig Varjabedian in one of his many outstanding photography books.
His latest, Landscape Dreams, A New Mexico Portrait, offers an array of stunning black and white images of the state’s most famous places, and a few often overlooked wonders. The White Sands desert and Carlsbad Caverns never looked more otherworldly – and spectacular. Varjabedian's style is analyzed and celebrated in essays by Marin Sardy and Jeanetta Calhoun Mish.
Colorado Women: A History, by Gail Beaton
Gail Beaton is a retired schoolteacher who certainly doesn’t lack ambition. Her book, Colorado Women: A History, is exactly that – a comprehensive history of notable women and achievements from the prehistoric era to the present day.
While an interesting book might be made of this topic from the viewpoint of any American state, Colorado is a particularly appropriate choice for a feminine history, as the state was one of the first to approve suffrage and to elect a woman to its legislature. Whether one came of age in the state’s eastern plains, western slope or the famed Front Range, there were women of all races and ethnicities making a prominent contribution to politics, the economy, education and the liberal arts.
Thousands of years before the first Thanksgiving, before Jamestown, even before Columbus, there was a thriving Native culture in the northeast part of the continent that eventually became the state of Maine. The inhabitants are known only as the Red Paint People, a reference to the red ochre found at their surviving burial sites. They were master fishermen, as one might expect, and author Bruce Bourque vividly describes how this culture that could have survived from the plentiful cod in their waters preferred more challenging prey. The Swordfish Hunters uncovers new revelations about the Red Paint People beyond their maritime roots.
What history now remembers as mail order brides were, in their time, more gently described with reference to arranged marriages facilitated by “heart-and-hand clubs.” These organizations catered to prospectors and pioneers who headed west to seek their fortune, and then found themselves missing female companionship. Publications offered information about prospective brides, and once letters were exchanged an invitation was extended to a lady in the east to move west for the purpose of matrimony.
Chris Enss provides a fascinating history of these marriages, with some of the actual advertisements and historic photographs.
Happy Hunting Grounds, by Stanley Vestal
Stanley Vestal has written books that would be classified as history, and others that would be found in the library’s fiction section. With Happy Hunting Grounds, he combines the two genres, relating a new story of the Cheyenne chief Whirlwind that also draws upon his extensive knowledge of America’s Plains tribes. Someone named Whirlwind is bound to have a tumultuous life, and in Happy Hunting Grounds he is tested by a villain who turns against the tribe that sheltered him, a battle with the Sioux and a personal loss that inspires a dramatic vengeance.
Vestal’s prose is illustrated by paintings and drawings from Frederick Weygold, inspired by his own association with the Plains tribes.
For more recent book releases, check out last week's Western Words post.