The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

black-and-white and frequently too small to be useful. Overall a very useful work
that provides an effective history of what has become a major Texas landmark.
University of Texas at San Antonio DWIGHT F. HENDERSON
Valley of Shining Stone: The Story of Abiquiu. By Lesley Poling-Kempes. (Tucson:
The University of Arizona Press, 1997. Pp. xxi+273. Illustrations, acknowl-
edgments, introduction, conclusion, notes, bibliography of selected sources,
index. ISBN o-8165-1446-1. $24.95, paper.)
Lesley Poling-Kempes's Valley of Shining Stone takes a fascinating look at the
history of Abiquiu, New Mexico, from the earliest inhabitants to beyond the last
days of Georgia O'Keefe. The author divides the book into two parts, "La Tierra
de Guerra, 'The Land of War"' and "The Good Country." In Part One the
author focuses not only on the geography and people of Abiquiu, but also the
valley's natural history. Her concise background of the valley's inhabitants high-
lights the establishment of precontact Peubloan settlements, ensuing Apache
and Ute raids, early Spanish settlements, and the eventual establishment of early
Anglo trade. In Part Two, readers witness Abiquiu's evolution from a quiet town
to a World War II retreat for the scientists of Los Alamos. From this point,
Georgia O'Keefe's important role in the establishment of Ghost Ranch takes
center stage. Poling-Kempes focuses on the history of Ghost Ranch, Georgia
O'Keefe, and the disillusioned of Abiquiu, who the author uses to provide a
backdrop for the story of Ghost Ranch. The monograph ends with a discussion
of the delicate environment and the attempts by its inhabitants to protect
Abiquiu's captivating beauty from the devastating effects of emigration from
New Mexico's urban sprawl. Her central and organizing theme, "cultural place-
ment and displacement," provides a natural and common thread for the reader
through the precontact, colonial, territorial, and statehood eras.
Written for a more general audience, the author depended upon secondary
sources; as a result no new interpretations surface. The lack of primary source
materials can be a frustration to the more knowledgeable audience, but her style
quickly engulfs the reader. Inadequate citations and a close focus on the
O'Keefe phenomenon might bias the readers who had hoped for a more broad
history of Abiquiu. While the author provides a bridge into the region's history,
New Mexico scholars will recognize that key pieces of the historical picture are
missing. The author, however, who obviously wrote Valley of Shining Stone for a
more general audience, nevertheless has an artistic and captivating style. Small
stylistic touches not often utilized by many New Mexico scholars is refreshing-
in particular her use of traditional tribal names for valley features. Poling-
Kempes writes of the P'os6ege, Nap'otap'o or the Rio Puerco, and the Av6shu
pije or Abiquiu and the Piedra Lumbre country (pp. 9, 11). Her use of maps,
vivid descriptions of the landscape, oftentimes dramatic photographs, and stark
contrasting chapter breaks, gives the reader the sensation of a difficult living
environment-but a beautiful and forgiving one-in its inhabitants respect the
land and its resources.
While experts on New Mexico history might not be as drawn to this book for
its contributions to understanding the region's history, the author's skillful



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 27, 2016.

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