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Tales from the Journey of the Dead: Ten Thousand Years on an American Desert Hardcover – September 1, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"This unique book doubles as the first impressionistic 'naturalistic' overview, and, at least in part, the first history of the region. The Jornada del Muerto is an awesome piece of land that cries out for lyrical description and Boye's writing is well worthy of the region that it describes."—Ferenc Morton Szasz, author of Larger Than Life: New Mexico in the Twentieth Century
(Ferenc Morton Szasz)

"This collection of oral histories and archival studies is a refreshing examination of the role that New Mexico has played, and continues to play, in the history of the United States as a multiethnic quest for happiness, opportunity, and at times, greed. The Jornada del Muerto as a place holds a unique image in the mythic vision of New Mexicans and Tales from the Journey of the Dead shows the complexities of the place."—Ricardo L. García, author of Brother Bill’s Bait Bites Back and Other Tales from the Raton
(Ricardo L. García)

“Firsthand accounts are aptly balanced by personal histories and thorough research. . . . With wonderfully accessible and consistently engaging writing, Boye adds a long-overlooked and essential piece to the puzzle of American history.”—Booklist
(Janet St. John Booklist 2006-09-15)

“Each of the nineteen chronologically arranged chapters comprising Tales from the Journey of the Dead is a stand-alone narrative, but read one after the other as Boye arranged them and they proffer a well-rounded and yet particular picture of the Jornada and some of the many people who have passed through its water-poor, sun-scorched expanse, settled there, or died trying (hence the name). . . . Boye effectively conveys the histories and stories of the desert and of the people he intended to reveal. The book is especially recommended for people planning their own trip to the Jornada del Muerto or who want to know about the region.”—H-Environment
(H-Environment H-Environment 2008-06-06)

“An entertainingly descriptive read. Boye’s interviews with locals who live, work, and play on the Jornada are particularly strong. Their experiences capture the central story of humans dealing with a harsh environment. . . . Tales from the Journey of the Dead can effectively capture the reader’s imagination with its impressionistic and descriptive approach to humans eking out an existence on a desert over ten millennia. In other words, when Boye describes life under the burning desert sun, the reader can feel the heat.”—New Mexico Historical Review
(New Mexico Historical Review 2008-05-27)
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Product Details

  • 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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ken Holmes on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Many people have heard of New Mexico's gypsum sand dunes at White Sands National Monument and the enormous flocks of Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Area. But few people, even New Mexicans, know much about the Jornada del Muerto ("Journey of Death"), the vast desert located between the two, except maybe the fact that scientists detonated the world's first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site there in 1945. A landscape bordered by the Rio Grande River and several mountain ranges, it's also the site of Edward Abbey's novel, FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, about a rancher who refuses to move off of his land when ordered to by the US government during WWII.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I was overjoyed to find Alan Boye's "Tales from the Journey of the Dead" in a local book store (The Mesilla Book Center). I was not disappointed upon reading the book. Boye's book is well written and I learned many things that I did not know about the area that have enriched my experience there. This book is, indeed, a gem. As a field biologist working at a local university I have spent many hours on both the southern and northern parts of the Jornada del Muerto. For many years I and several of my graduate students collected insects and data for various projects on the Jornada Experimental Range, the U. S. Department of Agriculture's largest research station, and on the associated university research facility and LTER site near Mt. Summerford in the Doña Ana Mountains in the south and at a ranch northwest of Trinity Site (the location of the first atomic bomb blast) in the north. I have been from Red Lake to Las Cruces in the south and from the Stallion facility to a spot about 5-10 miles north on the missile range extension. I know the archeologist Karl Laumbach and and the range scientist Dean Anderson well - both are mentioned by Boye - and can attest to the accuracy of his statements in regard to their work. Because of my long association with the Jornada (starting in the very wet winter of 1978) when Boye talks about the loneliness of the Jornada, I can easily agree with him. Many times I spent hours alone on the Jornada in heat, cold, flood and even snow. There are few places (perhaps the Gila Wilderness and the Camino del Diablo come closer than any others that I have visited) that have such absolute silence at times.Read more ›
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I live in New Mexico and also close to La Jornada del Muerto ( not the journey of the dead, which is muerte - but the dead man - apparently because a German gentleman's body was discovered there hundreds of years ago, at least, according to a very old 1970's copy of New Mexico Magazine.) Great tales and lots of information - fascinating stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
so so
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