Book Review: ‘Dangerous Divide’ delves into border issues

Often when the border wall between the United States and Mexico is talked about it has to do with keeping immigrants out. Discussions seldom occur about the drugs being brought in as well as the guns going in the other direction.

A wall isn’t a new idea. Presidents before the current one started the process. What changed was Sept. 11. Homeland Security became a department in the U.S. government. Fear grabbed hold even tighter. Rules were implemented without logic, and budgets increased to hire the manpower and toys to demonstrate strength.

The reality is if terrorists are entering the United States through Mexico, they have never been caught. Safety is a reason for spending billions of dollars on a wall. It’s the reason given to hire more people and invest in technology. But that border isn’t a national security threat even though the government acts like it is.

Peter Eichstaedt in his book “The Dangerous Divide: Peril and Promise on the U.S.-Mexico Border” (Lawrence Hill Books, 2014) deftly illustrates that the United States’ immigration policy is woefully lacking and that the wall is not making anyone safer.

Eichstaedt was in Todos Santos in February to discuss his novel “Borderland” that was based on research he did for “The Dangerous Divide.” Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the lecture. However, both books are available at El Tecolote bookstore in Todos Santos, Amazon and other locations.

In “Dangerous Divide” people tell their stories of why they are crossing the border. Border Patrol agents and others explain their reasons for wanting to stop people from coming illegally. Others offer solutions to benefit both countries.

Eichstaedt delves into the economic reality that the U.S. and Mexico need each other because of commerce.

What often is missing in news reports in the U.S. about the drug cartels in Mexico is where they got their weapons. They are being illegally smuggled in from the United States where they are legal. There wouldn’t be a drug trade if people in the U.S. weren’t using. At some point the United States has to take responsibility for its role in what is really going on at the border. This and so much more are all points made by Eichstaedt.

Mexico in the news: Avocados, renaming Baja Sur, 3D neighborhood

  • What would a world without women look like? Mexico may find out March 9, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Mexican drug cartels are infiltrating the lucrative avocado business, according to this WBUR report.
  • Some would like it to be known as California, Mexico – as in lose the Baja Sur bit. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.
  • The world’s first 3D printed neighborhood is being built in Mexico, reports WBUR.
  • Forbes writes about Mexico, not France, having the most profound and pervasive impact on 20th century American art.

Book Review: Biography on Mt. Rushmore sculptor a good read

A monument like Mount Rushmore probably would not get built today because of environmental reasons, as well as government regulations.

It’s a good thing it was constructed when it was – between 1927 and 1941. Even then there were plenty of hurdles to overcome.

In the book “Six wars at a time: The life and times of Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore” (Pine Hill Press, 1985) authors Howard Shaff and Audrey Karl Shaff delve into much more than the faces carved into the granite in South Dakota. This book is the story of Borglum – his family, his relationships in the art community, and with most of the presidents during his lifetime. It gives a great understanding of the life of an artist.

While Borglum is a fascinating character, the authors were cognizant of what was going on at the time – world wars, the Great Depression, politics, and more. Borglum was involved in so many world events, even if it was merely by expressing his opinion.

The authors paint a portrait of a complex man who didn’t mince words. He was not satisfied to let his art speak for itself.

While Borglum has works throughout the world, it is Mount Rushmore that he is most well-known for. For anyone who has seen the monument, this is another piece of the story that is worth reading.

Lake Tahoe snowshoe guidebook just published

Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks provides snowshoers with an invaluable guide for adventures in the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond. Whether it is traipsing through virgin snow or on a worn path, this book contains a route for everyone who likes to play in the outdoors in winter. Venture to frozen alpine lakes and wilderness peaks or enjoy the beauty at lake level.

Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe is more than a guide to interesting places. It is written in narrative form, with facts and figures interwoven. Each excursion is a story about what one can find and experience on the trail.

Snowshoeing Around Lake TahoeOne thing that sets this book apart from others is the rating system for scenic quality and difficulty. Each snowshoe is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most scenic and most difficult.

Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks is available via Amazon, and Barnes and Noble as an eBook for $5.99 and paperback for $9.99. Local bookstores can order it upon request.

Information about author presentations and signings may be found online.

Author Kathryn Reed is an award-winning journalist who loves the outdoors. She has either been living at Lake Tahoe or visiting the area since she was a child. She is also the author of The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes that was published in 2019.

Mexico in the News: Tourism, Butterflies and Toyota

  • Forbes says La Paz is the place to visit, not Cabo.
  • The New York Times in this story delves into women in Mexico fighting back against violence.
  • Climate change is taking a toll on monarch butterflies in Mexico, according to this Washington Post.
  • The most dangerous source of ocean plastic is fishing gear, according to Sea Shepherd Global. Mexico is mentioned in this story.
  • Toyota is moving more vehicle production to Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

Book Review: ‘Backlash’ relevant nearly 30 years later

The more I read, the angrier I got. Angry at the media, government, society, men, as well as women.

I was also mad at myself for not knowing so much of the information brought forth in this the book, for not having taken the time to be better educated.

“Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” (Crown Publishers, 1991) by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Susn Faludi is not new. It’s nearly 30 years old. While I was alive during the time frame the author concentrates on – mostly the 1980s, some of the 1970s and when necessary decades much earlier – I didn’t realize what was happening. I was not thinking critically, it least not enough in high school and college.

This book made me think, made me reflect on the struggles women have had and continue to have. Equality in the workplace, at home, in politics, in society – we aren’t there. There continues to be a backlash.

What Faludi illustrates is how pervasive the backlash was just a few decades ago. Men wanted revenge for the advances women made during the 1970’s feminist movement. She delves into how the media covered women’s issues, but didn’t ask the same questions about men. The media skewed the coverage, taking stances in news stories, using statistics that were faulty and continually repeating untruths until they had been told so many times they were taken as fact.

Men, much like today, were writing laws affecting women without any contribution from women. Judges were moralizing from the bench.

Control and power. When women asserted themselves, there was backlash.

This backlash was ubiquitous – from the fashion industry, to television and film, to politics, even popular psychology.

There is so much to absorb that I could only read small segments at a time. Plus, it’s a really long book. In hardback it’s 460 pages, with nearly another 100 pages of notes that I didn’t read. I feel like I’m a smarter, more aware woman for having read it.

Book Review: ‘Season of the Witch’ delves into San Francisco’s dark side

Analyze any 15-year span and the stories are bound to be endless and interesting. Take the years 1967 to 1982 in San Francisco and your head may spin.

David Talbot weaves together the significant events from this time period in “Season of the Witch” (Free Press, 2012) in such a captivating manner it was hard to put the book down.

While I lived through some of what Talbot writes about, I had yet to graduate from high school. Plus, I grew up on the other side of the bay. Part of the book was a refresher, some of it went into details I never knew, and some of it was new. All of it was fascinating.

It includes the Summer of Love, Jonestown, Harvey Milk, Dan White, Janis Joplin, Bill Graham, 49ers, Dianne Feinstein, AIDS, drugs, Patty Hearst and so much more. Talbot weaves these characters and events together chronologically, explaining how one led to another or how they were related.

“Season of the Witch” is deftly written with a journalist’s eye toward getting to the truth, capturing nuances of the time, and revealing raw realities of life. This isn’t a feel good book. It delves into some of the darker, more sinister events and the people who were involved.

It is a cultural history book that should be a must-read for anyone who has ever called the San Francisco Bay Area home or is connected to it in some way.

Mexico in the news: Dogs, water, fossil fuels and more

  • Rules for bringing a dog to Mexico from the United States changed in December 2019. Find out more from the USDA website.
  • Baja water supplies are at a critical level, according to this San Diego Union-Tribune article.
  • State and municipal leaders in Mexico are saying no to new fossil fuel electric plants, according to Mexico Daily News.
  • Reuters writes about the 16th-century anchors found off the Mexican coast that offer clues into Spanish conquest.
  • Drought is crippling small farmers in Mexico, according to this NexusMedia story.

Book Review: ‘Becoming’ a fantastic story no matter one’s politics

When someone is in the public eye it can be easy to assume you know everything you want to know about them. Rarely, though, is that the truth. There’s the public persona, and then the private.

In “Becoming” (Penguin Random House, 2018) first lady Michelle Obama reveals intimate details about life before the White House, during her eight years there and as she was leaving. It was wonderful to hear her narrate the book, to be able to get the inflection, to almost be able to envision her saying the words.

Being black, born on the South Side of Chicago to parents who were far from wealthy, well, it didn’t seem like she would end up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The odds of her obtaining degrees from Princeton and Harvard were also against her.

Politics aside, Obama’s story is one of hope and inspiration. It’s about how hard work can pay off. It’s about learning to believe in yourself and overcoming the question of whether you are good enough. It’s trusting others and knowing when not to, it’s asking for help and accepting it when offered, it’s putting yourself first and realizing sometimes you have to take a back seat.

The book delves into the struggles she had with her husband, Barack. How it was difficult to put her career aside in favor of his. How politics is not something she would have chosen for either one of them.

How Obama was an advocate for as much normalcy as possible for her daughters growing up in the White House was refreshing. Secret Service officers would be dressed in shorts, not use earpieces – all in an attempt to fit in to the crowd as they kept an eye on the first daughters. The two girls were able to go on sleepovers, to school dances, out for ice cream with friends, all because their mom was their advocate. Obama learned this from her own mother who was there for her when she needed her from childhood and well into adulthood.

“Becoming” isn’t political, but Obama does share opinions. Mostly, though, it’s her life experiences. What a story to read – or hear, as the case may be.

Lake Tahoe snowshoe guidebook to be released in 2020

There is so much to do in Lake Tahoe in winter besides downhill skiing. Snowshoeing is my favorite outdoor activity when there is snow on the ground. I say if you can walk, you can snowshoe.

This winter I will be releasing “Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks.” It will be similar to my hiking book “The Dirt Around Lake: Must-Do Scenic Hikes” that was published last summer. Both are in narrative form, making them different than most books in this genre. Each route tells a story about the respective hike or snowshoe. Both books rate each excursion for scenic quality and difficulty.

Details about the hiking book are available by clicking here. That link will also tell you where it is available for purchase.

When the snowshoe book is out, I will let you know.

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