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Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton

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Queen of the Walkabout

Joined: 15 Jan 2004
Articles: 35
Comments: 1
 Posted: 5/3/2005, 4:08 am

This nice book has been out a while and is found in the traditional bookstores. I had just moved to Tucson, took a little trip to Bisbee to see what it was all about.

I must admit I love this corner of Arizona. Lots of history and lots of character and not so many people, no metropolis like Tucson. The author, departs one stormy day from Tucson, to drive and visit Bisbee, a place he lived and taught school for a while. He also was assigned and lived at Ft Huachuca in the 50's. His trip details a pleasant narrative of the areas he passes through. He recounts personal vignettes and historical references and current issues of the areas along the way. The San Pedro river area, the ghost towns of Fairbanks and Charleston, Tombstone, Mule Mountains. On a recent hike to Miller Peak my hiking cohort told me people were living in caves outside of Bisbee. I would not doubt it about this eccentric area.

My favorite of the historical sections is an area of grasslands south of the Huachuca Mtns near the border. The Mormon Batallion encounters a herd of wild bulls with attitude, blocking a spring, and the "battle of the bulls" is had. Another time a somewhat incompetent, drunken lieutenant leads his army patrol all over this area, getting thoroughly lost, hard to believe in this realtively open, gentle rolling hills, country.
I took a drive through this area during the monsoons, visiting the border, the ghost towns of Washington and Dusquene, encountering one border patrol agent as I waded in a running wash, checking the depth before I attempted a drive though. I was having chemo, so was bald. The agent didn't bat an eye at the bald headed woman out in the rain in wet clothes (it was warm, I loved the rain on my head). I guess it goes for this wonderful country.

The author gets to Bisbee, takes a trip down memory lane, and of course the wild bawdy roots of the town, Phelps Dodge and the mine, with an impressive open pit just out of town, as you head toward Naco.
In addition, the author has interactions with animal friends along the way, imbuing them with personality and wit.

I recommend this book for more insight into this special corner of Arizona.

The University of Arizona Press, Tucson-1992
Rating: 0.00/5.00 [0]

Author Comments

Joined: 29 Jan 2004
Articles: 0
Comments: 1
 Posted: 8/11/2005, 5:13 am  Post subject:

Recently completed this book, and being a recently departed AZ native, really enjoyed it. If you have been in AZ awhile, or just got here, you will identify with it.
Rating: 0.00/5.00 [0]
Hi Tech Wizardess

Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Articles: 0
Comments: 2
Location: Needles CA
 Posted: 3/1/2006, 1:51 pm  Post subject: Going Back to Bisbee

Nice review of this book--I've read it a couple times myself. Dick Shelton is usually a poet. He has published quite a few poetry books, and teaches at UA in Tucson.

About 10 years ago I went to a party at his house. I told him how much I enjoyed his book, Going Back to Bisbee. I explained that I enjoyed reading books about the Southwest, whether they be history or outdoor adventure or just creative non-fiction. Books like the ones Redroxx has been reviewing, such as Cities of Gold and All My Rivers Are Gone, and Edward Abbey books. He recommended a book to me, and told me I'd really enjoy it. The book was Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy. He spent considerable time telling me how great it was.

Now, I don't know what Dick was thinking, but first of all, Blood Meridian is a novel. Secondly, I personally just could not read it. It was really gory and bloody and dark, and I don't read stuff like that. So I gave it to my husband to read. He read it, but said it was so incredibly dark and bleak he just couldn't understand why Dick had recommended it to me, especially since our conversation had been specifically about Southwest non-fiction and history. I came to the conclusion that Dick Shelton never actually reads any Southwest non-fiction books, even though he wrote a pretty good one himself!
Rating: 0.00/5.00 [0]

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