"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.
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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