The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring 1996, Volume 42, Number 2
Richard W. Crawford, Editor
Stephen A. Colston, Book Review Editor
Sonora: An Intimate Geography.
By David Yetman. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996. Bibliography. Illustrations. xvi + 248 pages. $45.00 (cloth). 12.95 (paper).
David Yetman, an assistant research social scientist at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, has cultivated a love affair with Sonora, Mexico, that has endured for more than one- third of a century. He has melded his feelings for Sonora with the evident technical skills of a cultural geographer to produce an personalized portrait of this northern Mexican state. The vibrancy of the author’s text is enhanced by sixteen color photographs created by Virgil Hancock.
While Yetman discusses some of the more salient features of Sonora’s long history, his approach is essentially ethnographic. By drawing upon his own contacts with the Sonora’s land and people, and by describing these subjects with an informal writing style, the author has carefully fused these elements to form an ambiance that almost seems to invite his readers to join him for an evening of story telling over a Sonoran dinner of tacos de carne asada and Tecate beer. The tale that Yetman effectively relates is one of a people joined to their land, and of their efforts to conserve traditional cultures and natural resources. It is also an account of painful twentieth-century changes, describing the growing number of people who are becoming dislocated from rural village to industrial cities and the increasing denigration of Sonora’s lands and rivers.
This book is clearly an important contribution to contemporary Mexican studies, but its readership should not be limited to those in this field. The American Southwest once comprised part of northern Mexico, and these two regions, despite the presence of an international boundary, continue to be joined through economic, social, and cultural bonds. Yetman’s study of one portion of the Mexican north should, then, be consulted by serious students of the contemporary U.S. borderlands.