David Yetman's first foray into Mexico occurred in 1961, where he developed a lifelong fascination of and appreciation for the countryside and the people who lived in it. In southern Sonora, the author explored the environs surrounding the town of Alamos, located in a tropical deciduous forest. Thirty years after that first journey, and after the author's continued explorations of Mexico, Yetman launched a mini-expedition of sorts back to Alamos, searching for the Guarijíos, a reclusive people in a reclusive land, thought to be extinct until 1930.
Yetman takes the reader on an engaging journey into Guarijío territory, incorporating interviews and his own observations into the story he unveils about their history, their struggle for land during the latter decades of the twentieth century, and the ways in which they live. A strong undercurrent of natural history infuses the writing as the author skillfully weaves his own interest in ethnobotany into the shared interests of his hosts, developing a picture of their lifeways through their uses of plants that might otherwise go unnoticed and also through the natural environment in which they have survived for generations. The Guarijíos of the Sierra Madre is an enduring work that seeks to understand human relationships to land, to larger dominant societies, and to each other through the eyes of a people who have maintained their cultural identity in the face of immense change.