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The Pueblos, poetry, photographs and prisons

The Cure

By Douglas E. Richards


$24.99; 318 pages; fiction

So what's a nice UA grad student with a model's body and a scientist's brain doing hanging around with psychopaths in an Arizona state prison? In this new thriller by scientist and former biotech executive Douglas E. Richards, she's exploiting them, for a change. In The Cure, psychology Ph.D. candidate Erin Palmer is ostensibly testing convicted psychopaths for neurological abnormalities that could contribute to their conditions (absence of empathy or conscience; studied charm). But what's revealed is that she's actually engaged in an experiment to "cure" psychopathy through molecular biology. When an old news item about her wish to develop a mechanism for profiling psychopaths gets her booted from the university, she has to act quickly to complete her work ... and she suddenly finds herself in the center of a legal, ethical and extraterrestrial (did I mention that Richards writes science fiction?) quandary. It's fast-paced, plot-twisty and informed. (We're allowed to skip over the quantum physics and genome-decoding parts).

Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom

By Jake Page

Rio Nuevo Publishers

$12.95 paperback; 192 pages; history

In his introduction to this very readable account of the 1680 Pueblo rebellion against the Spanish, Jake Page urges readers to learn something about "one of the most important events in all of American Indian history—if only as an exercise in common courtesy." And here, Page, a former editor of Natural History and Smithsonian magazines, who has written other books on Southwestern history and native crafts, models courtesy and fond admiration for its participants.

Setting the Spanish conquest and the Pueblo rebellion in the context of the other conquests of North America (Spain's Santa Fe, for example, was established before England's Jamestown) and demonstrating effects (without the use of the horse, released to Plains tribes when the Pueblos sent the Spanish packing, the Cheyenne, Sioux and Comanche could never have held off invading white settlers for as long as they did), Page illuminates some dimness in U.S history.

Page briefly recounts the incursions into the Southwest by the 16th-century conquistadors Coronado and Oñate and their conquest of Pueblo peoples in search of riches for the crown and souls for the Catholic Church. He focuses on villages along the Rio Grande from Socorro to Acoma and Taos but includes Hopis and Navajos to the west. He relates the mounting resentment of the Pueblos to the Spanish subjugation, but especially to the Franciscans' condemnation of centuries-old religious traditions and culture, and he relates in compelling detail the unprecedented unification of rival pueblos to rise up.

Because there are no written accounts from the Pueblos about their side of the rebellion (historians have depended upon Spanish records) or of their religious and cultural traditions, Page extrapolates from his experience with contemporary Hopis.

Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland

Narrative by Spencer R. Herrera; photography by Robert Kaiser; poetry by Levi Romero; foreword by Luis Valdez

University of New Mexico Press

$29.95; 142 pages; culture

And speaking of Oñate, Acoma and Comanches, they also show up in this vibrant, sometimes soulful, always fist-in-the-air volume celebrating the sagrado, profano and mundano—the sacred, profane and mundane—of contemporary Chicano life in the borderlands. An extended personal essay by Spencer R. Herrera, a New Mexico State University professor of Spanish who was raised English monolingual, serves as the framework for the book. Recounting a peripatetic five-year exploration of regional, personal and cultural identity, Herrera takes photographer Robert Kaiser and readers to places "sacred" to Mexican-Americans: in southern California and Arizona, in border towns, along the length of New Mexico and into "Old" Mexico. We see churches, murals, pickup trucks, chile fields, the Virgin, grave markers, dancers, pilgrims, vatos locos, charros, first-communicants, musicians and a few writers. Often in untranslated Spanish, the book's expression of rich culture is deepened by Levi Romero's thoughtful, accessible poetry. By the end, Sagrado could make one feel proudly Raza ... or palely gringa.

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