Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Basque History of the World

The Basque History of the World is not so much a Basque history of the world as a history of the Basques from a Basque perspective. I've been interested in the Basque people since I first learned about their history, and this sympathetic book by Mark Kurlansky is fascinating.

from the back of the book:
Straddling a small corner of Spain and France in a land that is marked on no maps except their own, the Basques are a puzzling contradiction-they are Europe's oldest nation without ever having been a country. No one has ever been able to determine their origins, and even the Basques' language, Euskera-the most ancient in Europe-is related to none other on earth. For centuries, their influence has been felt in nearly every realm, from religion to sports to commerce. Even today, the Basques are enjoying what may be the most important cultural renaissance in their long existence.

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

The Smithsonian Magazine doesn't so much review the book as review the Basques. The New York Times calls the book "entertaining and instructive" but also spends most of its time reviewing Basque history rather than the book at hand. The Independent has an excerpt.

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