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“It's hard to imagine a more engaging and illuminating chronicle of the contemporary West.… A nuanced, conflicted, poetic meditation on an endlessly elusive subject.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Deeply moving and insightful… A memoir that also manages to be an excellent work of reportage… Martínez treats all the people he writes about, and the places where they live, with the kind of profound respect all too rare among the legions of Western writers who have preceded him. The result is an emotional and intellectually astute portrait of communities long neglected and misunderstood by American literature.” ―Los Angeles Times
“A compelling and daring book, one filled with equal parts confession, history, and politics… This book will challenge every idea you may have formed about life and death in our western deserts.” ―Los Angeles Review of Books
“Unflinching… A sensitive, intricate perspective on the boom and bust cycle that characterizes the dry landscape of the American Southwest.” ―NBC Latino
“A savage journey into terror, cacti, drugs, desperation and all-around anomie in the superheated atmosphere of the desert Southwest… A necessary chronicle of a weird corner of America.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Martínez offers reportage beyond the simple binaries of the immigration issue or the drug war. He delivers a lively, compassionate intervention into our collective conception of the Southwest… This thoughtful and well-written account intimately explores the convolutions of racism and class conflict that have come to define a divided America.” ―Publishers Weekly
“After burn-outs in LA and Mexico City, Martínez flees to the desert in the hope that fierce, simplifying landscapes will cure his urban addictions. But he quickly discovers that the desert, far from a bohemian alternative, is actually the crisis of working-class American life reframed in the starkest existential terms. At this crossroads, where other writers would have surrendered to the darkness, Martínez instead looks toward the light. While the narrative is always honest and hard-headed, no book that I've read in the last twenty years has inspired so much genuine hope for the future of the West.” ―Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
“Desert America is an uninsulated wire running through the hard-bitten, right-now, rough-edged Southwest, a land still being born. Go ahead and grab hold: first comes shock--maybe of recognition, maybe alarm--then you keep buzzing for page after electric page. You can't let go.” ―William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness and River of Traps
“Most people experience the desert by car―they drive, stop to get gas, drive on, and after a while, they don’t see it anymore. Now the big plan is to cover the desert with solar panels and in ten years or less, it will all be gone, just like that. Maybe then, Rubén Martínez’s testament will be as close as you can get to the living feel of this beautiful land. After reading, I bet you’ll want to drive out there and take a look. But you better hurry.” ―Ry Cooder, guitarist, singer, composer, and author of Los Angeles Stories
“Desert America is a thorough, heartfelt, must-read for anyone investigating the West's state of economic and spiritual shambles.” ―Ana Castillo, author of The Guardians
“Rubén Martínez offers a vision of the mythic West, complete with cowboys and drug mules, vistas and tract developments. But the desert sand under Martínez is constantly shifting, and his writing is fluid enough to capture this shift--he knows that all he can seek is the idea of the West.” ―Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
“Rubén Martínez comes at his topics through side doors. He surprises. The result here is a disturbing and moving book. Searing, erudite, evocative, gritty, and funny are not adjectives I often apply to a single book, but there are few writers as singular as Martínez.” ―Richard White, author of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America
This is a wonderful book about the Southwest written as a memoir by a very engaging writer.Published 2 months ago by Maria D Sanchez
A little ponderous and often naively political, the book's descriptions of the desert southwest are vivid, and it does a good job of capturing many of the region's eccentricities.Published 8 months ago by Phil
Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico. A well written, thorough exploration of Northern NM, warts and all. Read morePublished 14 months ago by SouthWestReader
I am now reading this book for the second time. The author weaves the history, sociology, politics, and description of the geography of the North American Southwest into a very... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a straight autobiography with very little to do concerning the Boom and Bust in the New Old West. Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by Joe Empty
A friend recommended this book to me knowing that I had traveled to northern New Mexico on several occasions and been fascinated by the fact that in an area that is so sparsely... Read morePublished on December 30, 2012 by Joyce
I, like many Americans who like to travel to places of natural beauty and human creativity, have spent some time being rejuvenated by vacations both in New Mexico and Joshua Tree... Read morePublished on December 16, 2012 by Carolyn S.
This very humanistic portrayal of life in several different American desert locales reflects the author's sensitivity to individuals' lives and the way their perception of the... Read morePublished on December 12, 2012 by Amazon Customer