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Backroads

May 2024
1min read

West of the Thirties: A Story of Discoveries

by Edward T. Hall, Doubleday, 182 pages

In a most agreeable memoir Edward Hall, an anthropologist now entering his eighties, looks back to his days as a very young man employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on a New Deal project in Arizona’s Navaho and Hopi lands. “I lived in a country within a country,” Hall recalls, “a place where the trappings of modernity were barely visible.” Hall’s job was to oversee crews of Indians as they blasted rock and laid roads and generally worked to improve government lands; he was providing employment in “the least known, least visited, and least understood part of the United States.” Sixty years later he sets down his memories as freshly as if he were just venturing forth on that journey. Of the Navahos he writes, “I know truly, though inadvertently, that they sang me into being.”

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