Arizona: Celebration of the Grand Canyon State Jim Turner (Gibbs Smith, $40)

jim-turner-maynard-dixon-arizona-celebration-grand-canyon-state-bookThe Maynard Dixon cover is not the only reason to love this new Arizona book.

Jim Turner’s family moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1951, to cure his asthma. Turner first taught Arizona history at Canyon del Oro High School in 1976, moving on to lecture on Arizona’s past in 1998 and teach Arizona history at the University of Arizona in 2000. The following year, he became the historian for the Arizona Historical Society. His travels throughout the state to support its nonprofit history museums revealed to him all the different histories found in the communities. He wanted to combine these histories for a wider audience, which brings us to Turner’s Arizona: Celebration of the Grand Canyon State (Gibbs Smith, $40).

We first heard about this book from a colleague of Turner’s, Sharlot Hall Museum’s distinguished director, John Langellier. Langellier had graciously opened his home to Turner, who was visiting Prescott for a book signing. When we get a history tip from John, we listen; he knows his goods (see his favorite spots in Prescott in True Western Towns).

When we received our copy of Turner’s book, the Maynard Dixon cover promised we were in for a good read, and the promise held true. In fact, the book is sprinkled with wonderful Dixon paintings, which bring the tome to a top-notch level. Even though Dixon was born on a ranch in Fresno, California, in 1875, he is thoroughly an Arizona artist. His visit to the wild territory brought him inspiration for life, and he ultimately made Tucson his home. The breadth of his artistic genius can only be fully explored in his Arizona work.

But Dixon wasn’t the only wise inclusion made by Turner. His book includes more than 500 historic and scenic images, which make his broad brush of Arizona history a fascinating and beautiful read.

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