In the Country of Empty Crosses
The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New MexicoWhat it means to belong, through the eyes of an acclaimed Hispanic observer of religious and social histories
Arturo Madrid's homeland is in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico, where each town seems a world apart from the next, and where family histories that extend back four centuries bind the people to the land and to one another.This New Mexico is a land of ...
In the Country of Empty Crosses is Madrid’s complex yet affirming memoir about lands before the advent of passable roads--places such as Tierra Amarilla, San Augustín [insert "u" and note accent on I], and Los Fuertes that were once among the most remote in the nation. Madrid grew up in a family that was doubly removed from the community: as Hispanic Protestants, they were a minority among the region's politically dominant Anglo Protestants and a minority within the overwhelmingly Catholic Hispanic populace.
Madrid writes affectingly of the tensions, rifts, and disputes that punctuated the lives of his family as they negotiated prejudice and racism, casual and institutional, to advance and even thrive as farmers, ranchers, and teachers. His story is affectionate as well, embracing generations of ancestors who found their querenciastheir beloved home placesin that beautiful if sometimes unforgiving landscape. The result is an account of New Mexico unlike any other, one in which humor and heartache comfortably coexist. Complemented by stunning images by acclaimed photographer Miguel Gandert -- ranging from intimate pictures of unkempt rural cemeteries to New Mexico's small villages and stunning vistas -- In the Country of Empty Crosses is a memoir of loss and survival, of hope and redemption, and a lyrical celebration of an often misunderstood native land and its people.
“In the Country of Empty Crosses arrives as an event in the literary annals of America’s epic pageant of anathematized New World identities, prophetically remembered. Read it as the first ‘deep time’ testimonio of a Hispano protestante from old New Mexico to heed the call of his ancestors to tell their story, which is also his own, con corazón. Wrought with an often wry, flinty poetic eloquence, boundless compassion, and a geomancer’s attention to the austere mystical power of the landscapes of his Tierra Amarilla homeland, Madrid’s fearless tale gives us a glimpse into a secret world of untold histories and longings, narrated throughout with a generous heart, open to becoming something new. It is a bravura performance of ancestral imagination. ”— John Phillip Santos
“A moving remembrance of a Hispano Protestant family in Catholic New Mexico.”— Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Poetic and powerful, it is a complex memoir of such northern New Mexico places as Tierra Amarilla, San Augustin and Los Fuertes that were once among the most remote in the nation.”— Albuquerque Arts
“This is a beautifully written and reverent history of a family and its homeland in northern New Mexico. Gentle, unsentimental, yet enormously moving, it shines with an elegiac radiance. Miguel Gandert’s spare photographs complement the prose perfectly.”— John Nichols
“An astutely observed, beautifully written new hybrid of history, family, and memory.”— San Antonio Express-News
“Blessings, benedictions, benificence to all things in the world, little and large. Arturo Madrid has given them each a name, and their names are chamizal, Teófilo, Tierra Amarilla. For the country of empty crosses is not empty at all. It is a story older than Plymouth Rock, a history history forgot.”— Sandra Cisneros
- Texas Institute of Letters Fred Whitehead Award Best Design Trade Book
- Best Biography New Mexico in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards
- Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Award from Historical Society of New Mexico