The Basque History Of The World

The Basque History Of The World

Book - 1999
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"They are a mythical people, almost an imagined people," writes Mark Kurlansky. Settled in a corner of France and Spain in a land marked on no maps except their own, the Basques are a nation without a country, whose ancient and dramatic story illuminates Europe's own saga. Where did they come from? Signs of their civilization exist well before the arrival of the Romans in 218 B.C., and their culture appears to predate all others in Europe. Their mysterious and forbidden tongue, Euskera, is related to no other language on Earth. The Basques have stubbornly defended their unique culture against the Celts, the Romans, the Visigoths and Moors, the kings of Spain and France, Napoleon, Franco, the modern Spanish state, and the European Union. Yet as much as their origins are obscure, the Basques' contributions to world history have been clear and remarkable. Early explorers, they made fortunes whaling before the year 1000 and became the premier cod fishermen in Europe after discovering Canada's Grand Banks. Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a Basque, was the first man to circumnavigate the globe in 1522. Their influence has also been felt in religion as founders of the Jesuits in 1534, and in business, as leaders of the Industrial Revolution in southern Europe. Mark Kurlanky's passion for the Basque people, and his exuberant eye for detail, shine throughout this fascinating history. Like his acclaimedCod, it blends human, economic, political, literary and culinary history into a rich and heroic tale.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, c1999.
Edition: 1st Canadian ed. --
ISBN: 9780676972672
Branch Call Number: 946.6 Kur 3701 2
Characteristics: xii, 387 p. : ill., maps.


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Apr 06, 2015

"You will win, because you have more than enough brute force. But you will no convince."-Basque author Miguel de Unamuna, during the Spanish Civil War
The author of "Cod" and "Salt" brings his wide-ranging interests and lively writing to the subject of the Basque people. Living in a tiny region wedged between France and Spain, the Basques may be Europe's oldest culture and their language, Euskera, is unique. They excelled at fishing, whaling, iron mining, berets, and preserving their cultural independence amidst hostile forces, as well as their neighbors who have never quite understood them. Kurlanksy covers hundred of years of history, including the bombing of Guernia, which inspired one of the most famous artworks of the 20th century, the Franco years, and the emergence of the violent ETA group. If you've read anything else by him, you know he likes food and so Basque cuisine comes up frequently. An engaging and informative book about a fascinating people. Also, they invented Jai Alai.

Nov 07, 2014

I read this in preparation for a visit to Basque Country last summer, and it really helped me to start to understand some of the history, culture, and politics. He does a very thorough job of interweaving lots of complex threads. A relevant read, as Basque Country is wrestling with issues of cultural and political independence that are mirrored in many other places these days, like Catalonia, Scotland, Ukraine, and so on.

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