- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; annotated edition edition (September 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803213581
- ISBN-13: 978-0803213586
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,416,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tales from the Journey of the Dead: Ten Thousand Years on an American Desert Hardcover – September 1, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
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A largely desolate stretch of land about 100 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead) has long lived up to its name. Hiking the area on foot, Boye shares his impressions of ancient petroglyphs and pueblo ruins, desert plants and animals, as well as artifacts and landmarks. His firsthand accounts are aptly balanced by personal histories and thorough research on everything from Spanish settlement to atomic explosions to the transference of land from Spanish families to the likes of Ted Turner. Boye explains how the Jornada was a kind of initiation through which explorers, soldiers, and settlers had to pass in their journeys along the Camino Real. Barkeeps, cowboys, and even a "wild man" all left stories in their wake that engender our understanding of and appreciation for their struggles, losses, and victories. With wonderfully accessible and consistently engaging writing, Boye adds a long-overlooked and essential piece to the puzzle of American history. Janet St. John
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Top customer reviews
In addition Boye has peppered his descriptions with interviews with local ranchers, scientists, and with historical descriptions in rough chronological order. The Jornada is not as appreciated as it might be because much of its area is off limits to the average tourist (the USDA Experimental Range, the White Sands Missile Range and Ted Turner's huge Armendaris Ranch control the major part of the Jornada.) You can, however, get a nice taste of it at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park, just south of the Experimental Range gate on the Jornada Road north of Highway 70 in the south part, and along the road from San Antonio to Carrizozo in the north part.
If you can't visit the area and especially if you can, this book is a source of fascinating background for a very unusual part of the United States. I highly recommend it.
Alan Boye is a professor of English from Vermont whose book combines the history of the Jornada, interviews with its rugged inhabitants, and personal reflections on his hikes there. Who would have thought this desolate, beautiful desert had so much fascinating history? Boye recounts tales of ancient peoples, the coming of the first Europeans into what is now the US on the Camino Real (The "Royal Road"); Apache attacks; and even a dramatic Civil War battle (yes, there were not one but two Civil War battles in New Mexico).
The Jornada played a key role in the lives of western legends: Spanish Conquistadores Coronado and Onate; Zebulon Pike, the first Anglo man to see the Jornada; Kit Carson; Eugene Rhodes, the writer; and Victorio, the Apache warrior. But equally interesting are the stories Boye tells about its lesser known people: the ranchers who witnessed the world's first nuclear test and fought the US government to keep their ranches, or the "Wild Man," a legendary recluse who "lived his entire adult life in the outdoor air of the Jornada."
Like David Roberts, whose IN SEARCH OF THE OLD ONES and THE PUEBLO REVOLT also mix history with descriptions of personal treks through the southwest landscape, Boye is also very good at this genre. He's more of a poet than Roberts, but he never lapses into sentimentality.
The Jornada del Muerto is hard to explore these days. Ted Turner currently owns much of the Jornada on one of his ranches, and practically the rest is on the White Sands Missile Range. But this book makes me want to head to the Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico, for one its famous green chile cheeseburgers, and then set out into the vast Jornada del Muerto to see what I can find as well.