The Basque History of the World
By (author) Mark Kurlansky
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Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky
Book DescriptionThe Basques are Europe's oldest people, their origins a mystery, their language related to no other on Earth, and even though few in population and from a remote and rugged corner of Spain and France, they have had a profound impact on the world. Whilst inward-looking, preserving their ancient language and customs, the Basques also struck out for new horizons, pioneers of whaling and cod fishing, leading the way in exploration of the Americas and Asia, were among the first capitalists and later led Southern Europe's industrial revolution. Mark Kurlansky, the author of the acclaimed Cod, blends human stories with economic, political, literary and culinary history to paint a fascinating picture of an intriguing people.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099284130
(198mm x 129mm x 29mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 2-Nov-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
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UK Kirkus Review » The award-winning author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World takes an equally unconventional and engaging approach to those curmudgeonly nationalists, the Basques. True, this history ploughs a more or less linear furrow, from the uncertain origins of its subject - whom many consider the first inhabitants of Europe - through fluctuating fortunes with the Moors and the French - to the horrors of civil war and the rise of Euzkadi ta Askatsuna (ETA). But each chapter also addresses a particular facet of Basque culture - whether it be their passion for salt cod, whale meat and baby eels, the origins of their distinctive berets, or the evolution of their unique (and inpenetrable) language, accompanied by mouthwatering recipes reflecting the glorious tradition of Basque cuisine. Proof - if proof were needed - that learning about history can be fun. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » A comprehensive view of all things Basque, from the author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (1997). The Basque History of the World is an honorable title, alerting readers to its singularly Basque-centric mix of cultural studies, history, and politics. The writing is direct and accessible, although limited by the occasional descriptive cliche ("jagged mountains" and "crisp fall days"). It's most interesting when describing the periods when Basque history intersects with the history of the larger world. For example, in a section on the Spanish Civil War, Kurlansky utilizes quotes from survivors of the 1937 bombing of Guernica by Franco's forces, the first large-scale use of air power against a civilian population, to create a sense of suspense, dread, and terror. The bravery of members of the Basque underground, who helped over 700 downed Allied fliers escape from Nazi-occupied territory to England during WWII, is also depicted through compelling first-person recollections. The last third of the book, covering the post-WWII period and the radicalization of a faction of the Basque independence movement, is most problematic. While Kurlansky adeptly explains the logic for Basque autonomy and presents the most radical wings' justification for its historical use of terrorism, his analysis too often accepts the Basque view at face value and offers no independent perspective. Perhaps this is because Kurlansky is enamored of his subject, especially the Basque language, Euskera. Euskera warrants attention, as it's a unique non-Indo-European language with no known linguistic relatives. Kurlansky knows the Basques well and includes many entertaining anecdotes, myths, and facts about them, all of which reflect a quaint Basque chauvinism. According to the author, the Basque are: probably the original Europeans, the first Europeans to cultivate tobacco, the first bankers in Spain, the most devout Catholics in the world, and among the inventors of beach resorts. In its entirety, this is an informative but ethnocentric history that readers should approach with their critical faculties intact. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Mark Kurlansky
Mark Kurlansky is the author of several bestselling non-fiction titles including Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (winner of the Glenfiddich Best Food Book Award), The Basque History of the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, a short story collection The White Man in the Tree and a novel, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue.
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