Desert America : Territory of Paradox Ramon Prat, Michael Kubo, and Irene Hwang
          Review by Mario Cipresso

        • Most residents of the southwest are well-aware that the desert is hardly 'deserted'. It is, in fact, being increasingly developed and at quite a rapid pace. The desert offers many the opportunity to start anew, providing a tabula rasa of sorts. Developers plan "ideal" cities from scratch, importing lifestyles and landscapes to a climate and topography that doesn't easily accept these foreign ideals. Large, water-thirsty lawns and golf-courses abound, recklessly demanding irrigation in drought-prone areas.

          The perceived isolation of the desert provides cover for an array of typically illegal activities such as gambling and prostitution. These are the lifeblood of Las Vegas.

          What isn't common knowledge however are the multitude of uses beyond recreation and habitation that the desert has accommodated. A large military presence pervades the region in the form of missile testing and combat training facilities. Underground nuclear missile launching stations, now relics of the Cold War, reside in the Arizona desert floor awaiting the curious gaze of tourists. The dry, arid climate of the Arizona desert provides an ideal resting place for retired commercial and military aircraft. Here, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, often referred to as "The Boneyard", is believed to hold the highest concentration of aircraft in the world.

          The book manages to plot out quite nicely, the full spectrum of uses and facilities in the American desert. The large panoramic photos are generally of excellent quality and are effective in demonstrating the matter at hand. The text is a bit thin for most of the sites but provides a good starting point for further research.


        08.20.07 I lived in Arizona and never knew. I spent time between Taliesin West and a major golf course and didn't give it a thought. Thank you for enlightening me. / area525@aol.com
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