THE CENTURIES OF SANTA FE, by Paul Horgan (Macmillan, 21s.).
THE trail of Santa Fe is every whit as romantic as the road to Mandalay. Englishmen are inclined to think of America as having little history, certainly till comparatively recent times. Paul Horgan is one of those-they become every day more numerous --who correct this misconception. A novelist and an historian, he has studied deeply New Mexico and the Rio Grande. His "Great River " won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize, and just before Christmas was published his enchanting "The Saintmaker's Christmas Eve."
In this latest work he shows us the capital of New Mexico, the City of Holy Faith, through the eyes of characters who lived there in the years from 1620, when the Spaniards pushed northward into this land of the sun and the Pueblo Indians, till its absorption into the United States in 1846. With a prologue he takes us even further back, in to the IS centuries of Indian occupation: and with an epilogue forward to our own time, when the region became the secret laboratories where the atom bomb was perfected . . . if that is the word! The Indians believe that it will become theirs again someday, even if they wait a thousand years; could it be when white men have blown themselves off its face?
One of Horgan's Santa Ee characters is the 17th century Spanish Father President of the Franciscans who as a young missionary fought to save the Indians from
their exploiters. He is seen again, after 30 years' hard outpost work, once more the scholar at his desk, re-experiencing " the exhilarating faculty of ripping across a page with his glance and grasping everything written there." That is writing; such bringing of perceptive imagination to the facts of history makes Paul Horgan's alchemy-a transmutation, jf not into gold, at least into New Mexican silver. F.D.