Forty-Seventh Star (that's Us) New David Holtby Book Just Out

Thanks to whoever posted the schedule on Duke City Fix of David V. Holtby’s new book signings, because I wouldn't have known it was on bookshelves otherwise. I picked it up a few days ago at Holtby's signing at the UNM Bookstore.It's title is  Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexico’s Struggle for Statehood, University of Oklahoma Press, and I found it to be just what I needed to understand that long struggle to achieve statehood. 

Most New Mexicans with an interest in the state pretty much recognize benchmarks (historical highlights) along the way, just not in the context of statehood. For example, we know that as the 1880s began, the railroad expanded across New Mexico and connected our key cities in rapid fashion. It is remembered because it was such an historic moment and is well documented in history books, including a UNM Press book, New Mexico Railroads: A Historical Survey, by David E. Myrick.

What we might not have understood about statehood was the back story, those subtleties such as Anglos’ worry about being outvoted, and who would be permitted to vote. “Statehood for New Mexico simply means that the white people of the Territory will be put under the domination of the Mexicans,” is one quote illustrating this in the book, which has much anecdotal material that ranges from meaningful to delightful.

This book probably isn’t for everybody, but it is for nearly everybody who is a member of  Duke City Fix, I believe, based on members general adoration of Albuquerque and New Mexico, including the culture, languages (more than 15), and pop culture figures like Billy, the Kid, Pancho Villa and Elfego Baca. Baca, the famous sheriff of Disney fame, still resides in Albuquerque, buried in Sunset Memorial Cemetery.  

Forty-Seventh Star, a great name for the book in my view, deals with deeper stuff, and, is replete with anecdotes, some of which are built into the footnotes. The footnotes and bibliography are extensive, and the Index a big help in finding what you need in a hurry. You’ll recognize many of the names in the very deep bibliography: Charles Lummis, V. B. Price, Paul Horgan, John Kessell, Marc Simmons,Toby Smith, Robert Utley, some of them who may be members of the Fix.

Under footnotes you’ll find these nuggets of people, place names, events, and the like from Abiquiu to Zia Pueblo, and also including  adultery, African Americans, American Indians, Cabeza de Baca, Deming, Dexter, Elephant Butte, (whew!, 10 pages in all).

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Comment by Krista on October 8, 2012 at 11:16pm

Sounds really interesting--I'll have to pick it up!  Laura Gomez discusses the racial side of statehood in Manifest Destinies:  The Making of the Mexican American Race, which you might enjoy too.

Comment by Barelas Babe on October 9, 2012 at 5:56am

I can't wait to read this! Thanks for the book review, Izquierdo. Any basketball mentions?

Comment by Izquierdo on October 9, 2012 at 8:19am

Krista, I'll take a look at The Making of the Mexican American Race. By Laura Gomez, from UNM, huh?. Barelas Babe, No basquetbol in the book, but those stories exist in abundance from 1898 forward, and the first story that has been found in the archives is about the women's game. In fact, except for that long pre-Title IX stretch and the slow recovery after Title IX, women have pretty much dominated the game in New Mexico.

Comment by Krista on October 9, 2012 at 9:35am

yeah, she's a law professor at UNM!

Comment by Bookworks on October 9, 2012 at 11:11am

FYI, we have a couple of signed copies left over from our event with David on Sept. 25, on the "Autographed" shelf at the front of the store. I had the chance to read the book before it was published and it is wonderful! David does a great job explaining the complex history of our statehood struggle. - Amy

Comment by Prairie Girl on October 9, 2012 at 11:45am

Thanks for the great review, Izquierdo.  I love NM History.....gonna check this one out for sure. 

Comment by Prairie Girl on October 9, 2012 at 11:47am

And I never knew Elfego Baca was buried in Sunset Memorial Cemetery.

Comment by Izquierdo on October 9, 2012 at 12:15pm

Agreed, Amy. The artistic dust cover itself makes Forty Seventh worth the money. Because of the focus on the Duke City, I didn't mention the enormous regional appeal the book has across New Mexico. Anyone in Socorro for example would be interested in Holm O. Bursom, who is a key figures in the book, and whose offspring still reside there. Krista: You probably already know of the 2004 book, Coyote Nation: Sexuality, Race, and Conquest in Modernizing New Mexico, 1880-1920, by Pablo Mitchell who was a UNM student, I believe a student of Dr.Tobías Durán,Center for Regional Studies. It's night and day different than Holtby's book, however, even if it covers roughly the same time span. A back cover reviewer wrote the following: "this is one of the best books in terms of race relations that I have read in years." Actually Holtby includes it in his bibliography.

Comment by Krista on October 9, 2012 at 8:06pm

I have not heard of that book!  I'll have to read the 47th Star first and then move down the list of recommends.  :)  Seriously, thanks for posting this!  And Bookworks, my favorite book store, I'm going to make a trip down to the valley tomorrow just to see you all!  

Comment by Izquierdo on October 9, 2012 at 9:27pm

Prairie Girl: I didn't learn Elfego Baca was buried in Sunset Memorial out of a book. I learned it because my parents and a brother rest nearby and I happened to bump into him. Elfego is on about the westernmost row on the north side. Krista: Happy hunting. 


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