Books | Gregory McNamee


McNamee is a witty and masterful wordsmith. Biology becomes poetry in his hands.

—Demetria Martínez, National Catholic Reporter

The following books are currently in print and/or available through,, and other sellers of new and used books. For a complete list of publications and to inquire about out-of-print books that might be harder to find, please send a note.

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Tortillas, Tiswin & T-Bones: A Food History of the Southwest

University of New Mexico Press, 2017

TTT 9780826359049 cover

Those with a taste for Southwestern cuisine will find their hunger satiated by this readable, authoritative culinary and cultural history.

Kirkus Reviews

Nobody knows the Southwest like Gregory McNamee. He has seen it all, explored it all, and partaken of every kind of food the region has to offer. This is a book of many delights—so pour a cup of tiswin and feast upon it.

—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter and The Devil’s Highway

A wonderfully absorbing foodie saga that drills down to the heart of its chosen locale.


This book feels like sitting down to a dinner with Diana Kennedy and Jim Harrison, tequila in hand and great conversation going long into the night. It’s alive, a love story, a timeless journey. I absolutely loved reading it and will treasure Gregory McNamee’s words for a long time to come.

— Tracey Ryder, cofounder of Edible Communities and coauthor of Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods

Tortillas, Tiswin, and T-Bones sends the reader on a riveting adventure, tracking the origins of Southwestern ingredients and culture to reveal American history through food. McNamee's prose is deft and authoritative, and this is a highly original, timely book.

—Kate Christensen, author of Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose

Gregory McNamee brings food to the table like none other, weaving the history of people, earth, plants, and animals into tales of ancient cocktails, salt-making, and the Mesoamerican sources of tamales. His ability to tease recipes and ingredients out of the past is uncanny. If we are what we eat, and live where we do, this book defines us to the core. Feast!

—Craig Childs, author of House of Rain and Apocalyptic Planet

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The Ancient Southwest: A Guide to Archaeological Sites

Rio Nuevo Press, 2015


The Only One Living to Tell: The Autobiography of a Yavapai Indian

Mike Burns  |  Edited by Gregory McNamee

University of Arizona Press, 2012

The Only One Living to Tell

This is the story of a swath of [Mike Burns's] life, though concentrating on the years 1872–1886, and told in his words. Aided by Bloomsbury Review and Encyclopaedia Britannica contributing editor McNamee’s (Aelian's On the Nature of Animals, 2011, etc.) light editorial touch, those words have an unfiltered, sand-blasted polish, spare and well-chosen and strung with piquant atmospherics and a decided sense of transport. 

Kirkus Reviews

Burns's story creates an inimitable view onto a western reality that simply is not attainable anywhere else. Summing Up: Highly recommended. 


Hidden in archives for decades and now expertly brought to light by writer and editor McNamee, Burns’ memoir is a compelling account of Indian-white relations during the tumultuous pre-reservation years.


Orphan, captive, servant, scout, and witness to the contagion of violence that drove the westward expansion: Mike Burns saw it all. The Only One Living to Tell is a crucial piece of American history—a firsthand account of the heartbreaking Skeleton Cave Massacre and its catastrophic consequences, a debunking of the romance of the nineteenth-century 'Indian fighter,' and a closely observed ethnography compiled by a man who almost singlehandedly preserved his people's heritage for posterity. 

—Margot Mifflin, author of The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

Aelian's On the Nature of Animals

Trinity University Press, 2011

Winner of the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award, Gold Medal in Classical Studies


Aelian’s tales are delectable, satisfying reads because of their larger perspective, the encompassing vision of humans and animals and science and nature as part and parcel of the same character.The animals we know today are pathetic, tragic, and intrinsically political: they suffer, lose their habitats to sprawl and their dignity in oil slicks; they disappear, or they become cute. The animal of Orwell, of PETA, is a reflection of the horror— civilization—that we have visited upon ourselves and upon the natural world. That wasn’t Aelian’s view: his animals are agents, characters dense and twisty with life, in anecdotes and sentences that wreathe like coupling octopuses or face off like predator and prey, or that simply follow their best chances and so avoid the fate of the shrewmouse when it falls into a rut it can’t escape.

The Believer

“If Aelian’s science is sometimes sketchy, the facts often fanciful, and the history sometimes suspect,” McNamee writes, “it is clear enough that he had a grand time assembling the material.” And so does McNamee. As he points out, “The Nature of Animals” is “mostly randomly ordered,” but its often comic trifles make pleasant bedside reading.

Washington Post

It's really under the radar & a true delight to read. Check it out now.

—Nancy Pearl

With more obscure tales than you can shake a paw at, this is the book for anyone who has ever wondered about the weird world of wildlife.

New Scientist

Careers in Renewable Energy

PixyJack Press, 2008

COVER CareersInRenewable Energy -for email

The clean energy economy is booming across the United States and around the world. Careers in Renewable Energy is a sophisticated—and user-friendly—guide for finding meaningful job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

—Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico

Oil will eventually run out on our planet. It's only a matter of time—but it doesn't have to be the end of the world, no, it can be the way of the future and help readers find an exciting new career in the fields of renewable energy. "Careers in Renewable Energy: Get a Green Energy Job" is a guide to help environmentally conscious readers find a new career that will help them and help advance the concepts of Solar Energy, Geothermal Energy, Hydroelectric energy, Green Building, among other countless jobs available in renewable energy, providing countless references and resources to help readers get started. Any searching for a career in renewable energy and any public or business lending library catering to students or career changers will find specific and important this guide to clean energy opportunities across the country. From extensive lists of training facilities, schools, workshops, and professional organizations and societies to web sites and energy programs, this is the place for job seekers and career changers to begin. Expertly compiled and researched, "Careers in Renewable Energy: Get a Green Energy Job" is highly recommended for environmental studies collections with a crossover to career shelves.

Midwest Book Review

I teach an undergraduate Earth Sustainability course that gets students fired up to work toward changes in the ways we produce and consume energy globally. While it's great that they have that motivation, few know where to direct it. I've shared my copy of Careers in Renewable Energy with them, and it seems to go from student to student, never making it back to my bookshelf between! 

—Cortney Martin, Virginia Tech

Otero Mesa

Preserving America's Wildest Grassland

University of New Mexico Press, 2008


This is a beautiful book, as clean and simple as Otero Mesa itself. The text is without a single wasted word, as sparse and as to-the-point as the remote landscape it describes. This book is an eloquent, fascinating, and compelling argument for the protection of a national treasure and an important statement from the international conservation movement that everyone should heed.

—John Nichols

McNamee’s lyrical text tells the story of the region, introduces the ecosystem's plants and animals, and recounts the efforts of old ranching families to fight industry development. . . . Nature writing and photography that's both artistic and evocative, this is a rare armchair journey and a compelling appeal to action.

Publishers Weekly


Moveable Feasts

The History, Science, and Lore of Food

Praeger Publishers, 2006

University of Nebraska Press, 2008

Feasts 2

Of all the cultivatable ingredients, why have we chosen certain of them and rejected others? McNamee evaluates 30 of the most important ingredients, organized alphabetically, from almonds to wheat. He looks at their scientific makeup and nutritional value, as well as their social and culinary history and cultural relevance.... The author’s research is exhaustive, his pages packed with fascinating detail, and he does an excellent job of marrying the historical and scientific aspects of each ingredient.

Kirkus Reviews

Everything we eat has a story. Knowing that story not only enhances the pleasure of the table, it also helps us regain a relationship to food—no longer as anonymous commodity, but as a critical part of our history, our culture, and the natural world we all come from. From almonds to wheat, Gregory McNamee tells us these stories with humor and intelligence in an engaging style that is both entertaining and enlightening.

—Michael Ableman

McNamee writes in a clear and engaging manner and presents eclectic tidbits alongside accessibly presented science and history, making for an entertaining read.... Moveable Feasts is a pleasure to read and serves to highlight the strength of an interdisciplinary approach to studying food.


Mark Klett: Saguaros

Radius Books, 2008


Klett, a desert-worn traveler and member of the faculty at Arizona State University’s School of Art, has been widely exhibited around the country. Originally trained as a geologist, and with a master of fine arts in photography from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Klett has a strikingly natural eye. He has given the saguaro full stage, bleeding each one to the rough edges of its negative so that none of the original frame is missing.... For those who crave words, an expressive and informative essay by Greg McNamee, one of the foremost writers of the Desert Southwest, follows the images. McNamee delivers the perfect volume, relaying to readers bits of cultural and natural history about the saguaro.

—Craig Childs, Orion

Chosen as one of the best photography books of 2008 by the Wall Street Journal and Photo District News. 

Monumental Places: National Parks and Monuments in the Grand Canyon State

by Gregory McNamee

Arizona Highways Books, 2007

From the Grand Canyon to saguaro forests near Tucson, Arizona has more national parks, monuments, historic and cultural sites than any other state. The stories in Monumental Places tell why these scenic treasures are embedded in Arizona's heritage. Illustrating this exciting tour of the sites are stunning images by Arizona Highways photographers, who are among the best in the world.

Blue Mountains Far Away

Journeys into the American Wilderness

Lyons Press, 2000


Nimble meditations on the land and a human presence that gives the land meaning and takes from it spiritual sustenance. . . . McNamee carries the reader across "the familiar furnace of the Great American Desert," a place often associated with nothingness but made vibrant by his reports from the field.

Washington Post Book World

I've long been a fan of Gregory McNamee's work, but Blue Mountains Far Away is a specific step up into the arena of the best available.

—Jim Harrison

Elegantly distilled experiences in wild places—mostly desert, though Rome figures here, as does Kamchatka and the Burren—that have moved McNamee’s soul. . . . Experience such as these rambles, investigations, and broodings are what make up a life, estimable and visited by a curiosity that keeps it fresh and in wonder.

Kirkus Reviews

With the passing of Edward Abbey and William Eastlake, Gregory McNamee has filled some very large shoes in the tradition of Southwestern letters and outdoor writing.

—Doug Peacock

Gregory McNamee is an engaging writer. He sees far into the landscape and becomes one with it in his spirit. Blue Mountains Far Away is an eloquent paean to the American West. These journeys into the American wilderness are worth taking and McNamee is exactly the man to take us there.

—N. Scott Momaday

A charmed book; Gregory McNamee never takes himself too seriously, or not seriously enough.

—Bill McKibben

Gila: The Life and Death of an American River

Crown Publishers, 1994

University of New Mexico Press, 1998

Second revised and expanded edition Fall 2012

Napkin 01-27-13 10.55.14 AM

This is a fine and important book, full of graceful, understated passions, and full of a natural history that has, like the river itself, been lost to us—for the time being. Gila is a gift to us from McNamee: of knowledge, insight, and the hard moral truths of our past errors.

—Rick Bass

The Gila River has been given a voice, and that voice is Gregory McNamee. We would do well to listen.

—Terry Tempest Williams

Important reading for environmentalists.

Publishers Weekly

Comeback Wolves

Western Writers Welcome the Wolf Home

with Gary Wockner and SueEllen Campbell

Johnson Books, 2005

Winner of the 2005 Colorado Book Award


If you believe that literature has the power to change the world, then you will love Comeback Wolves. It's beautiful, important, and full of wild hope.

—Kathleen Dean Moore  

Wolves are coming back to Colorado and the Southern Rockies. I think this little book will help them.

—Dave Foreman 

The wolf is returning with or without us. The only thing in doubt is whether we're up to sharing the West with these native sons and daughters. Read this book and grab hold of the only future fit to live.

—Charles Bowden

This treasure of superb writing should be in the hands not only of those who support wolves, but more important, in the hands of those who don't—be sure to give a copy to someone who is unconvinced of the necessity of wolves, and help foster the understanding to bring those five-partite footprints back to Colorado.

—Ann Zwinger

Read the strong, clear voices in these pages. You will find yourself ever more resolved, or newly convinced, that western landscapes cannot be whole without the gifts that the wolf brings to the plant and animal communities—and to us.

—Charles Wilkinson

Comeback Wolves is a wonderful and timely collection of essays and poems in honor of Wolf. If only wolves could read they would surely feel much more welcomed than they frequently are. Enjoy and share this book widely.

—Marc Bekoff

The Serpent's Tale

Snakes in Folklore and Literature

University of Georgia Press, 2000


In his cogent and witty introduction to this collection of some fifty-five tales drawn from folklore and literature, Gregory McNamee reflects on the universality of human fascination with the serpent, throughout time and across cultures, by turns varying from admiration and respect to outright revulsion. In texts drawn from around the world, the snake is found variously to be deadly, crafty, wise, sympathetic, or symbolic, as well as an object both of scientific curiosity and whimsical speculation. Once bitten by this engaging work, the general reader will find himself charmed no less than the folklorist or natural historian.

Virginia Quarterly Review 

The North Wind and the Sun

and Other Fables of Aesop

Daimon Verlag, 2004

North Wind

For 2,500 years, adults and children alike have been listening to the stories of Aesop. Originating in the folk wisdom of rural Asia Minor, these popular fables have been retold, repurposed, and altered over the centuries; in the process, they have sometimes been changed so much that they bear little resemblance to their simple forebears, which ask their listeners and readers to think for themselves, to supply their own conclusions. In this collection, Gregory McNamee draws on the Greek originals to provide Aesop's fables in a form that Aesop himself might recognize—ones in which fleas and foxes converse, people sometimes learn from their errors, and things are not always what they seem.

The Bearskin Quiver

and Other Southwestern American Indian Folktales

Daimon Verlag, 2002


In this charming collection of folktales from long ago, we read of the creation of the world, of the ways of animals, of the beguiling Coyote, of the world in which we live and other worlds that hide just beyond our sight. Drawn from the oral literatures of some twenty Southwestern American Indian peoples, these stories teach us about the constants of those dry places: about how the clouds form in the sky, how the heat rises from the ground, how the animals move about from one shady spot to another, and how the people once lived their lives. All these stories show us—as the great anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss, observed— that folktales are not mere afterthoughts of literature, just pleasant stories to tell around the campfire, but rather valuable tools for reflection upon our own lives.

The Girl Who Made Stars

and Other Bushmen Folktales

Daimon Verlag, 2001


This ancient culture now teeters on the edge of extinction, but this slender volume provides their legacy in the form of stories, songs, dreams and beliefs. Collected, they hint at a way of being in the world and a mode of thought very foreign to us but familiar as dreams.

Dallas Morning News

If you ever travel to Botswana, take The Girl Who Made Stars with you. Try to meet a Bushman. Take a walk with him. Ask him to explain what he sees in both his language and yours. Their bushcraft—survival skills, tracking, knowledge of plants and animals, ability to read weather patterns and the lay of the land—is unlike anyone else’s, and hearing Khoisan spoken is an unforgettable experience. Then settle back and read these stories with the faraway cough of the lion and the smell of Botswana sage as your companions.

The Bloomsbury Review

The world exists in order to be made into a book.      – Stéphane Mallarmé