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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Wednesday, May 25, 2016

State of the state

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Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013 5:00 am

New Mexico: A History is the no-nonsense title of a book just published by … what’s this? … the University of Oklahoma Press. (Thanks, neighbor.) Maybe there’s a story behind that story, and maybe co-authors Art Gómez and Robert L. Spude will reveal it when they appear in a reading and conversation (without their third co-author, Joseph P. Sánchez) at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Although New Mexico was officially demarcated as a state just over a century ago, the land it occupies had been inhabited for thousands of years before that, and its history was at least somewhat, if not unequivocally, documented for the better part of a millennium. The authors hit their stride with the mid-16th century, when they begin to detail the peregrinations of generations of Spaniards who crisscrossed the land, sometimes finding harmony with the Native American residents, sometimes not. They document the region’s burgeoning economy in the 19th century, enlivened by accounts of mining, ranches, and railroads. They lay out the political haggling that led to statehood, chart the rise of the tourist industry, consider the state’s contributions to the defense industry, provide a dispassionate look at water rights, and bring readers up to how things stand at the present moment. (Or almost; they stop short of Breaking Bad.) It’s a lot to pack into 341 pages (not counting the bibliography and index), but the authors accomplish their task efficiently, packing every sentence with enough facts to make your head spin. Call 505-988-4226.

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