Rosebrough looks at the checkered history, the internecine politics, the ethnic makeup, the governance, and the natural landscape. And more.
He zeroes in on some events that have molded Gallup and environs, including the nearby Navajo Nation.
Among those events are The Long Walk, the enforced mid-19th century march of thousands of Navajos to Bosque Redondo, which Navajos still call Hwéeldi, a Place of Suffering.
Another event the book dissects is the March 1973 shooting death of young Navajo activist Larry Casuse, who had kidnapped then-Gallup Mayor Emmett Garcia at gunpoint.
Years later, Rosebrough began probing the shooting, apparently initially reported as a suicide.
He interviewed Casuse’s sister Ursula. He met with Navajo activist Michael Benson. And he struggled to gather facts of the violent, still-remembered incident.
As mayor, Rosebrough wanted to see a newspaper photograph of three cops hovering over Casuse’s bloodied body that was dragged to the sidewalk; the image allegedly had been posted in the Fraternal Order of Police building in Gallup.
The book offers an insider’s view. The 69-year-old Rosebrough, who was born in San Jon and raised in Farmington, has lived in Gallup for about 44 years. Yet he is still considered by some as an outsider.
“I think unless you’re born and raised here, you’re an outsider to some extent. That’s kind of a small-town reality,” Rosebrough, an attorney in private practice, said in a phone interview.
The book also integrates the author’s public and personal life. A highlight of his spirited public life was serving as Gallup mayor from 2004 to 2007.
Rosebrough was a fresh face with fresh ideas that sometimes upset the status quo and the old guard. At times his anger got the best of him.
Two of his controversial ideas were to shorten the hours local liquor stores could sell booze and ban sales of malt liquor in 44-ounce container and fortified wines.
For many years Gallup had a reputation as a welcome mat for residents of the dry Navajo reservation to get falling-down drunk in wet Gallup, a reservation border town.
Another issue Rosebrough discusses in the book that has inextricably linked Gallup and the Rez is the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
If New Mexico likes to think of itself as a tricultural society – Anglos, Hispanics and Indians – the book explains how Gallup has welcomed immigrants that have fashioned the town into what has become a multicultural town.
Italians, Greeks, and Slavs emigrated to Gallup area a century ago to mine coal underground.
They are in addition to the Anglos, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people from the Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
Rosebrough, a longtime outdoorsman, loves to mountain bike and hike.
When he was mayor he pushed for Gallup to promote the city as an outdoor recreation destination for tourists.
“When I drive home from work there’s a spot on my route that is kind of a high point,” Rosbrough said.
It’s a view of the red rocks, Pyramid Rock and Church Rock, about five miles east of Gallup, that literally energizes him every day.
The book’s title derives from a conversation Rosebrough had with a friend, Don Steele. The author asks why Steele moved to Gallup. Steele gave a spiritual explanation, that he comes from the Celtic tradition: “We have a concept that places on Earth that are thin places, where the veil between heaven and Earth that are thin places or between the sacred and the rest of us, is thin and permeable – and I think Gallup is such a place.”
Steele added that these are “places of struggle, where the forces of good and evil are drawn into battle.”
That hit home for Rosebrough. He wrote that he thinks of Gallup as being “simultaneously and disproportionately” terrible and wonderful.