Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Behind the Bears Ears
Exploring the Cultural and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape
R. E. Burrillo

Torrey House Press
October 27, 2020/ ISBN 1948814307
Nonfiction/Mixed Disciplines

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard Johnson


Biography of a Landscape

Pairing Landscape and Science
in New and Better Ways

You of course remember the song, “A Few of My Favorite Things!” Here is a book that does for me what that song does for young people . Let me count the ways:

Archaeology. Anthropology. Environment Issues. Humor (even a touch of irony here and there!). Memoir. National Parks and Monuments. The Desert. And Utah. These may not top your list, too, but I bet a few of them do.

Enter archaeologist (and author) R. E. Burrillo. I have read lots of books on this topic and Burrillo’s is the first in a long time that helped me (truly!) understand the discipline better (and in new ways). That would be enough. But making it painless—even chortle- worthy—is beyond any expectation I might have been able to conjure.

Memoir? It’s his personal touch. I finished the book wanting to know him better, read more of his work, maybe take a class from him.

And it isn’t just the author. Kudos to Regina Lopez -Whiteskunk. Her two-page foreword is a veritable prose poem.

And about the Timeline in the frontmatter. Why have none of the texts I’ve read done it this well?

And those long chapters that Burrillo makes no apologies for? They help even an avid fan immerse themselves in that timeline, understand the points he makes. Read like a story. A believable story.

And Torrey House Press? There they are, just waiting for the modern reader with eclectic preferences. A new resource for books dedicated to “…environmental justice and stewardship for the human and more-than-human world by elevating literary excellence from diverse voices.”

There are a few more “ands,” but I will spare you. As a born and bred Utahan with divided feeling about my roots and the place, I wouldn’t want you to think I have an agenda. Please trust me, this little rave (rant?) comes from a spot in my heart perfectly willing to criticize as necessary. If I must reread a book to find a flaw for a review—any book—I am not inclined to do that. I want the reader of my reviews to come to a book without expectations likely to spoil the experience for them.

I believe there is no danger of that with Behind the Bears Ears: Exploring the Culture and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape. Not if you love any one of the topics on my “favorite things” list in the first paragraph.

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, columnist and reviewer for, writer of fiction and poetry and the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Reviewed 2021
for me