BORN TO THE LAND by Brent Ashabranner


An American Portrait
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Though less a portrait of Luna County, New Mexico, and its county seat--Deming--than a series of portraits of some of its more successful ranch and farm families, this nonetheless gives a good sense of what it might be like to live in this unique, relatively unfamiliar region. After a brief historical introduction, the author devotes the book's longest section to ranch life, especially on the hard-working, multigenerational Nunn family's 130,000 acres--not enough to make them wealthy in this arid country: Joe Bill Nunn and his wife couldn't afford a washing machine till after their children were out of diapers. Still, it's clearly satisfying labor in beautiful surroundings. Nearby, farmers like Frank Smyer--whose great-grandfather homesteaded here--stay afloat by introducing new crops: chiles, pecans. A final chapter describes Deming and mentions Luna County's ethnic diversity (50% Hispanic, "the backbone of [the] work force," but accorded only a page here). As in their other collaborations (Into a Strange Land, etc.), Conklin's searching portraits, candid photos, and telling landscapes (all in black and white) contribute a great deal to the information. An interesting, authentic picture of a tough, valuable slice of American life.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1989
ISBN: 0-399-21716-9
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: Putnam
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