Book Review: Faces of Tradition

Bob MillerBook Reviews, Indigenous Connections

To treasure a traditional handwoven textile is to know that such a thing is far more than a mere piece of cloth—it tells a story. It has an artisan creator, who lives this story in their community and culture, and who has imparted a bit of themselves into this cloth, whether it is simply or extravagantly made. Indeed, to view such a creation without appreciating its story, as a mere textile utterly detached from the weaver, the community, and the culture that created it, is to strip it of much of its beauty and meaning.  Which brings us to the fine book Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes.  Written by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and Christine Franquemont, with lavish photography by Joe Coca, Faces … Read More

Book Review: Deep Rivers

Virginia GlennBook Reviews

When I first picked up the book Deep Rivers by José María Arguedas, I was fascinated that it was originally written in Quechua—not Spanish. Even though the author was born into an upper class, Spanish-speaking family in Andahuaylas, Peru, Arguedas spent most of his childhood being cared for by Quechua-speaking servants. This background gave him the unique advantage of seeing the world from the perspectives of both the oppressors and the oppressed. And this semi-autobiographical book shows us how he interpreted these two views. Ernesto, the main character and narrator of Deep Rivers, is closely connected with his country and its people. He visits or mentions many different cities—so many that I found myself needing to write them all down … Read More

Book Review: A Perfect Red

Ercil Howard-WrothBook Reviews

Knowledge of the color red has been possibly the most esoteric and political of powers in human history. It is the primal color of birth, often death, and of the mystical fluid that carries life through our bodies. It calls to the human spirit, appearing in pre-historic handprints on cave walls, museum tableaus, and, throughout history, in textiles denoting power, luxury, and even joy. In her book, A Perfect Red, Amy Butler Greenfield leads us along the very human path of the desire and even need for the color of red. Early on, she points to humans using earthly elements, clays, and oxides to achieve their spiritual expression using this powerful color. It is no wonder that humans with access … Read More

Book Review: Life and Death in the Andes

Marilyn MurphyBook Reviews

Furry friends: 2018

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” -T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom From the moment of my reading this opening quote, Kim MacQuarrie had me riding along with him as he traveled up and down the vein of the Andes gathering well-researched historical and current facts. I was drawn into his stories about legendary figures—Pablo Escobar, Hiram Bingham, Che Guevara, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Abimael Guzmán, and Charles Darwin—and others we might consider … Read More

Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Bob MillerBook Reviews

For much of my life, I have loved tramping around in remote places in the American Southwest. Finding blank spots on the map, I’ve enjoyed exploring them, discovering magical secrets few others know about, based on whispered rumors or perhaps just telltale bits of interesting topography on USGS maps. Or, as often happens these days, I imagine the adventures my creaking joints and busy calendar no longer so enthusiastically sign up for. In Turn Right at Machu Picchu, author Mark Adams delivers a delightful itinerary for the imagination of the “Gee, I wish I could (still!) do that” would-be adventurer. Adams relates his real-life experiences as an unlikely explorer on his own ill-advised “bucket list” adventure trekking the Andean highlands. Retracing the path … Read More

Book Review: Death in the Andes

Bob MillerBook Reviews

Death in the Andes, written by celebrated Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, is on its surface a “whodunit,” set in the dark period when the Shining Path revolutionary terrorists (Sendero Luminoso terrucos) were conducting their campaign of terror in the remote mountain communities of the Peruvian highlands. One more horror in a place rife with rumors of flesh-harvesting pishtacos (evil monster-like men) and with hardship, suspicion, and mistrust—where even the landscape itself is out to destroy those who dare to trespass. Corporal Litumo and his adjunct Tomás Carreño are assigned to the dusty mining and road-building camp of Naccos, charged with discovering the common fate of three missing men. Little ties these three victims together: one was a nearby town … Read More