The Milagro Beanfield War

By John Nichols,

Book cover of The Milagro Beanfield War

Book description

The Milagro Beanfield War is the first book in John Nichols's New Mexico Trilogy (“Gentle, funny, transcendent.” ―The New York Times Book Review)

Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Milagro Beanfield War as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I wish that I knew Nichols’ secret recipe for making me laugh out loud and cry at the same time. These are characters you want to kiss, shake, shoot, and make love to (sometimes all at once).

The plot mixes petty larceny and terrible crimes, guerilla warfare, dangerous pigs, a great deal of alcohol, a little sex, and injustices that seem even more relevant now than when the book was written. 

Tragedy? Comedy? Depends on your point of view. If you’ve seen the movie, you have seen only about a tenth of the book. So, read it! 

First of all, this sprawling novel is funny and entertaining, and those qualities would be reason enough that I would recommend it. Yet beyond those qualities, it created a strong sense of place and a real social and political conflict without ever becoming preachy or heavy handed—not an easy feat as I have learned.

The storyline, a conflict over land use and water rights, is repeated again and again throughout the West and Southwest in particular—in this case pitting real estate developers against impoverished locals. But the story is also about a conflict of cultures and how those cultures perceive…

This is book one of John Nichols’ wonderful New Mexico trilogy and what I enjoyed about it the most was the humor - because New Mexicans can find humor in the most absurd or sad or irritating or even banal situations. Pursuit of wealth versus preservation of culture is at the center and Nichols does a great job of depicting the pride and quirks of the small-town poor farmers and wealthy developers as they battle over water rights. Of course, magic realism creeps in – or actually crawls in, as a long- dismembered arm allegedly bears the responsibility for the…

From H.L.'s list on set in New Mexico.

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