Books by Harry W. Crosby

Released: Feb. 1, 1998

A lively archaeological detective story and a thorough survey of some of the most stunning and little-known artwork of America's prehistoric inhabitants. While the existence of giant outdoor murals in Baja, Calif., painted in caves, under rock overhangs, and on the sides of canyon walls, had been known since the 18th century, the large number of such works and their vigor and originality had not been realized. Crosby, a freelance writer and photographer, began exploring the still wild Baja region in the 1960s and has identified some 200 sites featuring rock art. This volume is both a record of Crosby's often daunting journeys and an introduction to the art. The murals are unique: Incorporating both impressionistic and realistic elements, rendered in bright primary colors, they feature actual species of animals, as well as such fantastic creatures as giant horned snakes, and scores of massive human figures, often depicted with their hands upraised. The identity of the culture that generated these works, their meanings, and the period during which they were created (estimates range from 2000 b.c. to 1200 a.d.) are all in dispute. A fascinating work, well told, and a moving celebration of masterworks by North America's early indigenous artists. (71 color, 11 b&w photos; 108 color drawings) (Book-of-the-Month Club/History Book Club selection) Read full book review >