• “Nuclear New Mexico, A Historical, Natural and Virtual Tour,” by M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Jacqueline S. Palmer. Photographs by James E. Frost (Texas A&M University Press). This book invites readers to opens their eyes and minds to rethink tourism in New Mexico. One story is the history of nuclear science and weapons in the state. The book talks about Los Alamos, where the first atomic bombs were built; the Trinity Site, ground zero of the first test of the bomb; and the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a permanent radioactive waste repository southeast of Carlsbad that is not a tourist destination. And Albuquerque, where Kirtland Army Airfield, later renamed Kirtland Air Force Base, was the transportation and communication hub of the military arm of the Manhattan Project. Adjoining the base is Sandia National Laboratories, the nuclear weapons research arm of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The other major tourism story is more public; it relates to the beauty of the natural landscape. The book suggests these two types of tourism share common physical paths because of proximity. Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve bracket Los Alamos. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a stone’s throw from White Sands Missile Range, home of the Trinity Site. Carlsbad Caverns National Park isn’t far from WIPP. Kirtland AFB and Sandia Labs are near the Sandia Mountains (Cibola National Forest).
The authors, who live in El Prado, also explore lesser-known shared paths in the section called “The Shadow Tour.” It refers to “the more obscure crannies of Nuclear New Mexico,” such as Church Rock in the Grants Mineral Belt and nuclear sites close to iconic rock formations in the Four Corners region. “Here,” the book says, “the Cold War has definitely left its ruins – contaminated mining sites, abandoned towns, devastated lands, a legacy of illness, and not a little bitterness.”
• “Imagine a City That Remembers, The Albuquerque Rephotography Project,” by Anthony Anella and Mark C. Childs (University of New Mexico Press). Locations in photos from early and mid-20th century are photographed again, mostly in 1998 and some in 2017.
The meat of this project is the text, a set of essays on various subjects, among them Downtown, parks, water, urban sprawl and Central Avenue. The essays and images initially appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune in the late 1990s. They were republished in the 2000 book “Never Say Good-Bye.”
In this new volume, those images and essays are joined by photos and commentaries updated to 2017. The commentaries are food for thought on issues vital to thinking critically about the future of Albuquerque’s urban landscape. A documentary film should be made to help the community better understand the issues the book discusses.
Anella is an Albuquerque conservationist and architect. Childs is associate dean for research and a professor of architecture at UNM.
• “Gather the Night, Poems” by Katherine DiBella Seluja (UNM Press). In poetry, Seluja, a Santa Fe resident, writes a lament of the wrenching emotions in dealing with a brother’s mental illness over his lifetime. In the poem “News of a Brother’s Death,” Seluja writes, “Don’t kid yourself,/it’s nothing like a movie./No subtitles to clarify meaning,/no forewarning minor key.”
• “Homelands – Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration” by Alfredo Corchado (Bloomsbury). The author is one of three Mexican men with one Mexican-American who first met in a Philadelphia restaurant in 1987 and have been meeting since.
The book, in what is part memoir, part journalism, discusses the four families’ stories about dealing with dual homelands and the larger drama of the last major wave of Mexican migration and its impact on the politics, economy and culture of the United States to the present.
Corchado is the award-winning Mexican border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News.