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The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other True Stories of the Southwest
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The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other True Stories of the Southwest

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  616 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
The author of myriad best-selling mysteries set in the American Southwest presents nine extraordinary, true tales of daily life in New Mexico, including the comical title story, about a bank holdup in Sante Fe that never was. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
Paperback, 173 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1973)
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Feb 21, 2017 Lisa rated it liked it
1973 Birthday celebration title - I turned six years old and was living in Prairie Village Kansas. I knew nothing of the Land of Enchantment and how I would move to New Mexico and grow to love the desert and the architecture, the food, people and miles of skies and red rock. I loved the title and cover font of this slim book filled with short stories. (The cover of the copy I read and loved is not pictured on goodreads, but it is on my facebook post). I haven't read much Hillerman but enjoyed th ...more
Nov 01, 2016 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, despite what many of the reviewers state below, this is NOT a short story collection. It is a collection of essays about life in New Mexico. Several of these essays appeared in the New Mexico magazine. They are a bit old fashioned in style but, even in his novels, Hillerman was a bit old fashioned. Of course, Hillerman is best known for his Navajo mysteries featuring Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. Yet these essays show that Hillerman could have easily been a major chronicler of the Sou ...more
I read this book years ago. Many of these stories have stuck with me all these years. There are a couple (the title story, the one about escaping from the Taos jail) that still make me laugh out loud when I think about them. They read like fiction, but the blurb for the latest edition says they're all true. I believe that because I know truth can be stranger than fiction.

Here's the bottom line: I don't care what your favorite genre is. You need to read this book.
Nov 22, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
This took me almost 10 years to finish. That should tell you something, both good and bad.
According to the faded receipt I had used as a bookmark for most of a decade, I purchased this book on a very short trip I took to Huntington Beach for an interview in April of 2006. I finished it today, in November 2015. I had read almost four of the 8 short stories in the book back when. The bookmark receipt was stuck in, one page from the end of the fourth story. A gripping tale, indeed.

I returned to th
dead letter office
May 03, 2008 dead letter office rated it really liked it
i think i've mentioned before here that i'll read anything about new mexico. my favorite story from this book was called The Indian Who Had So Many Friends He Couldn't Get No Damn Wire Strung or something to that effect. i have to admit i like tony hillerman. i only read this collection and one of his jim chee mysteries, but i'd read more gladly.
Melva Clark
Sep 17, 2016 Melva Clark rated it liked it
I learned a few things about my state.
Michael Rhode
May 07, 2017 Michael Rhode rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is minor stuff, but it was a fun read.
Patrick Gibson
Dec 20, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like a good yarn
At first the antiquated style of the prose put me off. I had to settle into a more Victorian mode before I began to get the humor and flow. Sure a bearded cross-dressing bank robber is funny, but Hillermans style is so different from his novels you have to make an adjustment to get the full impact. And funny it is. There are a half-dozen stories, the Bank Robbery being the longest, which derive from New Mexico folk lore and proves nothing if not how weird everyone is here. I have long been a fan ...more
I discovered Tony Hillerman years ago when we went on a road trip to Mesa Verde and on to Albuquerque with good friends. My friend Meta said I really should read him. I have since read over a dozen of his novels and enjoyed every one. This collection of essays was written about Tony Hillerman's New Mexico. The stories are all true and interesting. I especially loved the retelling of the title story about a failed bank robbery and the "Keystone Cops" routine of the locals trying to capture the su ...more
Jeffree Itrich
Aug 13, 2013 Jeffree Itrich rated it really liked it
This book is not for everyone but I loved it. This little book is a collection of essays about the quirky side of New Mexico. Written by Tony Hillerman in a journalistic style, it is a departure from his better-known mystery novels on the Navajo Nation. That said it is equally enchanting because it illustrates a side of New Mexico that visitors don't see. Several, if not most, of the essays cover some aspect of an historical event. History buffs and fans of New Mexico literature will probably fi ...more
Tony's great love for New Mexico flows off the pages of this short story collection. Only someone who loved Albuquerque could be inspired to write a short story about catching a glimpse of Mt. Taylor from a freeway overpass.There is no doubt the stories were written by a master journalist: his sentences are a pleasure to read and well-structured to efficiently convey information. Fans of NM and the Southwest will be entertained and educated by tales of long-ago and contemporary events that illus ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Patrick\ rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Before coming up with his improbable-ending thrillers (narrative well written, I add), this is his launch book - reportage essays, humor and insight into life in New Mexico. The Bank Robbery is so typically Taos, almost had me on the floor. He is one of the few authors to catch the near impossibility of living in Taos. It is another world of existence. You can't make this up and sell it. He didn't have to - reminds me of the time ....
Apr 06, 2008 Rae rated it liked it
Before Tony Hillerman began publishing his mysteries, he wrote this collection of essays about odd events and characters in New Mexico history. Good stuff.

"In the Emergence Myth, the name the Holy People put on evil was 'The Way to Make Money.' And the Hero Twins decided to spare the lives of the final monsters so The People would learn from living with them. Those monsters were named Fatigue, Old Age, Hunger and Poverty."
This book includes essays written by Hilerman when he was "a forty-year-old graduate student at the University of New Mexico." They're historical, so still timeless.

This book would be a good read for folks interested in the history of New Mexico and the history of politics in New Mexico. I learned a lot.
Jun 21, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
An entertaining collection of folk stories and accounts of archaeological digs that celebrate New Mexican eccentricity. Having never been to NM, I can't vouch for their being happily weird, but I can declare this book to be both funny and fascinating. Few books would follow an absurd story about a foiled bank robbery with a discussion of the spread of Folsom Man, based on preserved weaponry.

May 30, 2014 Sally rated it really liked it
My favorite story was about Trampas and the church that was sustained by the high mountain valley residents. My grandpa used to take us on road trips up there, I've played in that tiny cold clear river. It is a beautiful valley. I made a quilt of some New Mexico missions, and the Trampas church was one of the blocks. The story just touched me in a very personal way.
Sherrill Watson
Sep 23, 2014 Sherrill Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this little book at the library on the strength of the Hillerman name, and was not disappointed. Nine little vignettes of things he'd heard, stories, tales, etc., presented factually but with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that I really liked. New Mexico at it's best!
Jan C
Mar 27, 2011 Jan C rated it did not like it
Tried this a couple of years ago. I just couldn't get into it. There was an occasional story I liked but most of them just left me kind of cold.

I preferred his mysteries with Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.
May 03, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
Not new, I read this after our first trip to Santa Fe and Taos. Almost all sites in the book were therefore familiar which made the well written background stories super interesting. Tony really brings New Mexicos unique culture to life. I really enjoyed this book.
Sally Atwell Williams
I loved this re-issue of Tony Hillerman's True Stories. Anne Hillerman, his daughter, writes the forward to it. The stories he tells are wonderful, and all the more because they are true. I love Tony Hillerman's novels. I need to get his last one, and his daughter's first one.
Dayna Smith
A classic collection of nonfiction essays about life in New Mexico. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history and humor of life in the American Southwest. The story of The Great Taos Bank Robbery alone is worth the price of the book.
Mark Wilson
Jan 11, 2014 Mark Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evocative, charming, and as infuriating as New Mexico itself. A delightful selection of essays. You'll love the language, and you will definitely learn something about that ancient and complicated land.
John Winkworth
Aug 10, 2014 John Winkworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hillerman, new-mexico
A collection of short stories covering various aspects of life in the southwest. The first story with the book's title is magnificent and worth taking the effort to locate this book. After reading this piece how could you NOT want to visit Taos?
Sep 03, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joe by: Scott Medlock
I'd never read Hillerman's nonfiction before this book, and he's just as engaging and as good a storyteller in that context. This is a great series of stories from early in his career, all from New Mexico, and all worth the read.
Dec 07, 2016 George rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
Super great stories about New Mexico...insights into the state. A couple of notable ones are about the 1967 Tierra Amarilla riots and the Navajo who couldn't get the wire strung. Don't forget the Taos bank "robbery," too. Classic New Mexico tales--read 'em!
Jan 13, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was OK.
Hw Santry
Mar 29, 2014 Hw Santry rated it it was amazing
A fine mix of true New Mexico stories
Lydie Blaizot
Un recueil intéressant à découvrir malgré la longueur de certains textes.
Marilynn Shea
Nov 09, 2012 Marilynn Shea rated it really liked it
entertaining short stories
Nov 26, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This is a funny collection of essays which reflect Hillerman's love of the Southwest.
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Tony Hillerman, who was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, was a decorated combat veteran from World War II, serving as a mortarman in the 103rd Infantry Division and earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. Later, he worked as a journalist from 1948 to 1962. Then he earned a Masters degree and taught journalism from 1966 to 1987 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, wh ...more
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