An informal historical survey, or a scholarly ""travel book,"" by a Welsh writer-in-residence at the University of Texas. White does not omit the customary longeurs of a Briton in the American Southwest--the Lawrentian lyricism about Indian dances, the Huxley-Waugh fascination with neon and Pepto-Bismol--nor does he spare us sermons about the benefits of smallness and ""honest stink"" as against ""collectivization"" and ""Anglo culture."" However, his enthusiasm and knowledge stand the book in good stead as he maps the coexisting Indian, Spanish-Mexican and pioneer developments. Naturally White finds the nomadic Indians more piquant than the ""collectivized"" Mayans, while he demystifies both Geronimo (""a squalid character"") and American cowboys (whose slickers and umbrellas were indispensable, unlike their antique guns). The Tucson Mafia, the Mexican drug trade, and the Utah Mormons--such ""lobotomized Rotarians"" after their apocalyptic, bloody history--are scanned along with the natural phenomena which prove that Plato was right about God being a geometer. A pleasant book which ends with a rather patronizing tribute to the decency of Americans and our ""absence of caste.