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Neal Johns
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The Best Baja Books


Bibliophiles Baja
By Neal Johns

The choice of a limited number of Baja oriented books is a very personal thing. Delicate shades and nuances of the Baja spirit will of necessity be left out of this short listing. An all-encompassing list (except for the years after 1964) is in the three-volume bibliography by Barrett, Baja California. Two books covering the fascinating Pinacate region a few miles east of Baja were slipped in because of their excellence. Many of the books selected are out of print but are available from antiquarian bookstores, or on the Internet.

What?s Down There?

The Central Desert of Baja California ? Aschmann
A readable scientific study of ecology, including Indians.

Lower California and its Natural Resources ? Nelson
Results of a 1905-1906 U.S. government survey of the peninsula.

Natural History of Baja California ? Barco
As seen by Father Barco in the 1700?s.

The Kings Highway in Baja California ? Crosby
Thirty years ago, Crosby traveled The El Camino Real by mule-great maps/photos.

The Cave Paintings of Baja California ? Crosby
Great coffee table book of the ancient Indian murals.

Last of the Californios ? Crosby
Text and photos of the self sufficient lives of isolated ranchers.

The Lost Treasures of Baja California ? Francez
Pictures and history of the Missions of Baja by Father Francez.

The Forgotten Peninsula ? Krutch
An old natural history classic of Baja.

Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California ? Minch
Geology, biology, botany and archeology keyed to the Kilo posts.

Baja California Plant Guild ? Roberts
The title says it all.

What Does it Look Like?

Baja ? Moore and Peac-ck
Coffee table book of great photos.

How do I Get There?

The Baja Adventure Book ? Peterson
The best of the current guidebooks.

Backroad Baja ? Higginbotham
Best guidebook to get into the real backcountry.

Lower California Guidebook ? Gerhard and Gulick
Before Highway 1, this was the bible.

Baja Almanac ? (two volumes) Baja Almanac Publishing
Dirt road delight, the most complete map.

What do Traveler?s Need to Know?

Backcountry Mexico ? Burleson and Riskind
Customs and vocabulary back of the beyond.

The People?s Guide to Camping in Mexico ? Franz
Customs and vocabulary back of the beyond.

Baja4You ? Giesea
Question and answer format mainly for residents.

Other People?s Experiences

Hardly any Fences ? Hilton
This famous artist was one of us. Great plates of his work also.

Camp and Camino in Lower California ? North
Travel before automobiles.

The Journey of the Flame ? Fierro Blanco
A fictional, but authentic, journey over the El Camino Real in the early 1800?s.

Almost an Island ? Berger
A modern reflection on changes over the last four decades.

Baja Fever ? Niemann
Interesting stories of the old days traveling in Baja.

Baja California: Vanished Missions, Lost Treasures, Strange Stories, True and Tall ?Pepper
For the romantic in all of us.

Into a Desert Place ? Mackintosh
Can you imagine walking all the way around the coastline of Baja by yourself (sans roads)?

The Water World

The Flight of the Least Petrel ? Bancroft
One of the best of several voyages in the Sea of Cortez.

The Baja Catch ? Kelly and Kira
Fisherman?s Bible.

King of the Moon ? Kira
A fictional, but authentic, novel of life in a fishing camp.

History of Baja

Antigua California ? Crosby
The definitive modern history book by a master.

Observations in Lower California ? Baegert
Father Baegert tells it like he saw it in 1771.

A History of Lower California ? Martinez
A 1960 work of love.

Pinacate

Desert Heart ? Hartmann
The Pinacate wonderland is on the border a hundred miles or so east of Yuma.

The Sierra Pinacate ? Hayden
A combination, knowledgeable text and picture book by a field archeologist.

Special Mention

The Baja Travels Series 1965-1992? Dawson
Glen Dawson and his famous Baja bookstore is responsible for many converts to what for many of us is a secular religion. This series of 51 books covers the entire range of Baja subjects. In 1989 the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum took over from Dawson's as publisher of the series.

The Unforgettable Sea of Cortez ? Kira
The Baja experiences of Ray Cannon, who?s fishing columns in Western Outdoor News introduced thousands of Americans to the wonders of Baja during its Golden Age of 1947-1977, for better or worse. Gene Kira wrote it as a memorial with the invaluable help of Ray?s lovely wife, Carla, who supplied decades of memorabilia.

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