The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Mark Kurlansky

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Mark Kurlansky is an award-winning and bestselling author. His most recent book is 1968: The Year That Rocked the World.
 
Published January 1, 1999 by Random House of Canada, Limited. 400 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Westerns. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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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.

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Publishers Weekly

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Straddling the border of southern France and northern Spain, the land of the Basques has long been home to a people who had no country of their own but have always viewed themselves as a nation. In th

Oct 04 1999 | Read Full Review of The Basque History of the World

Publishers Weekly

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In this marvelous work of cultural history and appreciation, Kurlansky traces Basque history from pre-Roman times, when Basques worked as the mercenaries of Carthage, to the region's recent renaissance in language and arts.

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BookPage

The Basques are also the only Spaniards who visibly resisted the dictator Franco in the early 1970s, and much of this book is devoted to following the political intrigue that made some Basques such terrorists throughout the 1980s.

Dec 08 2015 | Read Full Review of The Basque History of the World

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