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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Time Event
11:54p
Something interesting ...
Sometimes a used book tells a story, above and beyond the book itself. There's a group over on LibraryThing.com called "Found in a Book" and I posted a thing over there about a post card that was in this book. It's amazing how that sort of thing can "personalize" a book that moved through somebody else's life before getting into your hands. I picked up this at the Newberry Library Book Fair last summer, which is a pretty good indication that the original owner had died, nearly 35 years after getting the holiday greetings that seem to have been serving as a bookmark.

Anasazi: Ancient People of the Rock came out in January of 1974, and had the rather steep cover price of $18.50 (that's about $85.00 in today's dollars!), fairly high for a book under 200 pages. It is, however, quite a striking photo tour of the Anasazi and related groups' ruins in the southwest. Photographed by David Muench, and with quite informative text by Donald G. Pike (who was not above adding humorous twists such as "The Basket Makers responded with fur blankets and mantles. The raw material was supplied, albeit reluctantly, by the ubiquitous rabbit ...").

Structurally, the book goes back and forth between a substantial essay on the culture and area (briefly illustrated with photos of pottery, petroglyphs, various woven bits, etc.), and a portfolio of pictures of the ruins. Sites covered include Mesa Verde, Kayenta, Sinagua, Salado, Chaco Canyon, among others, including at the end a brief bit on the still-occupied mesa of Acoma, which the authors place in a linear descent from the Anasazi.

When I picked this up, I was sort of expecting it to be just a "picture book", but it did take me several days of sitting down with it to actually get through the text portions, which are nicely balanced on breadth and focus, each essay being on a particular topic, but all hanging together as a coherent narrative.

The pictures are, of course, glorious, to the right is a cropped version of one of the shots from Mesa Verde (of "Spruce Tree House") that I found out on the web.

I've been fortunate to have been able to have visited many of the sites covered here, and it's made me want to dig our my photos to see how I saw the ruins when we were out there. It was amusing to me that I was recalling one site (the restored Grand Kiva at Aztec Monument) from Pike's descriptions, and suddenly be looking at a picture of it (my elder daughter was about 3 when we went there, and was riding on my shoulders most of the time, so I have fond memories from there).

Anyway, Anasazi: Ancient People of the Rock is a goodie, and if you can find a copy of it (and have an interest in the Anasazi), you should definitely consider picking it up. The hardcover I have looks to start around $20, but copies of the paperback can be found for a couple of bucks. Well worth looking for!


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