Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona (Paperback)

Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona By Tom Zoellner Cover Image
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Tom Zoellner walked across the length of Arizona to come to terms with his home state. But the trip revealed more mountains behind the mountains.

Rim to River is the story of this extraordinary journey through redrock country, down canyons, up mesas, and across desert plains to the obscure valley in Mexico that gave the state its enigmatic name. The trek is interspersed with incisive essays that pick apart the distinctive cultural landscape of Arizona: the wine-colored pinnacles and complex spirituality of Navajoland, the mind-numbing stucco suburbs, desperate border crossings, legislative skullduggery, extreme politics, billion-dollar copper ventures, dehydrating rivers, retirement kingdoms, old-time foodways, ghosts of old wars, honky-tonk dreamers, murder mysteries, and magical Grand Canyon reveries.

In Rim to River, Zoellner does for Arizona what Larry McMurtry did for Texas in In a Narrow Grave and what Wallace Stegner did for Utah in Mormon Country: paint an enduring portrait of a misunderstood American state. An indictment, a love letter, and a homecoming story all at once.

About the Author

Tom Zoellner is a fifth-generation Arizonan, former staff writer for the Arizona Republic, and the author of eight nonfiction books, including Island on Fire, which won the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Praise For…

“Tom Zoellner has the legs of Muir, the heart of Steinbeck, the eyes of Didion, the pen of Caro, and the scope of Gibbons as he takes readers beyond the stereotypes of a state too often cast as just one big, bad waste of desert. Masterful must-read.”—Gustavo Arellano, author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America
“Exquisitely written, each footstep in this pilgrimage connects inspirational vistas to complicated histories through research, interviews, and conversations in a quest to find Arizona’s heart.”—Lydia Otero, author of In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing Up Brown and Queer and La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City

“At last, a superbly well-informed and insightful writer takes on the whole enchilada of Arizona—history, cultures, landscapes, politics, economy, bars, restaurants, weather, loneliness, belligerent crackpots, and more. Zoellner, a native son, walks the length of the state and tackles the big questions that Arizonans struggle with: Who are we? What is this place? How did it get this way?”—Richard Grant, author of The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi

“On his trek, he is alone, no chummy side banter, just his own experience allowing him to freely corkscrew into subjects like mining, wildfires, and briars of city-building and lobbyists. A deep Indigenous history opens onto Spanish gold-seekers, ranchers, and missionaries. Indian wars, railroads, and land grabs follow, and epic water developments eventually make the state livable to millions, fertile ground for real estate scams and swarms of hucksters who continue to find easy pickings.”—Craig Childs, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Zoellner’s greatest gift is his agile and adroit use of the same words you have read hundreds of times combined in new ways. From lofty musings to descriptions of a washtub, his storytelling brims with discovery.”—Lisa Schnebly Heidinger, author of Arizona: 100 Years Grand and Tucson: The Old Pueblo
“In Rim to River, Zoellner interweaves his hike along the Arizona Trail from Utah to Sonora with stories about the history and culture of the state. It is a journey well worth taking with him, a travelogue about an ancient and unforgiving land where humans have desecrated its beauty and sucked Pleistocene aquifers lower and lower through a series of boom-and-bust economies that never seem to last and never seem to end. A place where the contrast between the stark grandeur of the landscape and the tawdry creations of our contemporary society bounces back and forth with an energy that often seems obscene until you realize how transient those creations are.”—Thomas E. Sheridan, author of Arizona: A History, Revised Edition

"This tour de force does more than offer food for thought: it serves up a veritable banquet.”—Helene Woodhams, Arizona Daily Star

Praise for Tom Zoellner
“[A] dazzling display of intrepid reporting.”—Entertainment Weekly
“The author is expert with vivid prose.”—Publishers Weekly
“Zoellner is both a first-rate reporter with years of newspaper and magazine work behind him and a skilled stylist who makes you want to come back for more.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Tom Zoellner is one of my go-to authors. He has a clear eye, a deep soul, and a very sharp pen.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels and The Devil’s Highway
“Tom Zoellner writes like a dream and thinks like the best kind of realist—the kind whose truth-telling is infused with fundamental compassion, implicit empathy, and genuine curiosity.”—Meghan Daum, author of The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New CultureWars
“To get where we’re going, we need to know where we’ve gone, and Tom Zoellner is the best guide for our times that I know of.”—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Product Details
ISBN: 9780816553280
ISBN-10: 0816553289
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication Date: February 20th, 2024
Pages: 376
Language: English