The Basque History of the World

The Basque History of the World

Book - 1999
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The Basque History of the World is the illuminating story of an ancient and enigmatic people. Signs of their civilization existed well before the arrival of the Romans in 218 B.C., and though theories abound, no one has ever been able to determine their origins. Their ancient tongue, Euskera, is equally mysterious: It is the oldest living European language, and is related to no other language on Earth.

Yet despite their obscure origins and small numbers (2.4 million people today), the Basques have had a profound impact on Europe and the world for more than 2,000 years. Never seeking more land, they have nonetheless fiercely defended their own against invaders ranging from the Celts and Visigoths to Napoleon and Franco. They have always been a paradoxical blend of inbred tradition and worldly ambition, preserving their indigenous legal code, cuisine, literature--even their own hat and shoe--while at the same time striving immodestly to be leaders in the world. They were pioneers of commercial whaling and cod fishing, were among the first Europeans in the Americas, Africa, and Asia during the age of exploration, and were prosperous capitalists when capitalism was a new idea, later leading the Industrial Revolution in southern Europe. Their influence has been felt in every realm, from religion (the charismatic Ignatius Loyola founded the Jesuits in 1534) to sports and commerce. Today, even while clinging to their ancient tribal identity, they are ready for a borderless world: The unique Basque concept of nationhood has never been more relevant, at a time when Basques are enjoying what may be the most important cultural renaissance in their long existence.

Mark Kurlansky's passion for the Basque people- their heroes and commoners alike-and his exuberant eye for detail shine throughout The Basque History of the World . Like his celebrated book Cod , it blends human stories with economic, political, literary, and culinary history into a rich and heroic tale.

Publisher: New York : Walker and Co., 1999
ISBN: 9780802713490
Branch Call Number: 946.6 Ku
Description: xii, 387 pages : illustrations, map ; 21 cm


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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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