The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation

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9780140298512: The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation

"They are a mythical people, almost an imagined people," writes Mark Kurlansky. Settled in a corner of France and Spain in a land marked on no maps except their own, the Basques are a nation without a country, whose ancient and dramatic story illuminates Europe's own saga.

Where did they come from? Signs of their civilization exist well before the arrival of the Romans in 218 B.C., and their culture appears to predate all others in Europe. Their mysterious and forbidden tongue, Euskera, is related to no other language on Earth. The Basques have stubbornly defended their unique culture against the Celts, the Romans, the Visigoths and Moors, the kings of Spain and France, Napoleon, Franco, the modern Spanish state, and the European Union.

Yet as much as their origins are obscure, the Basques' contributions to world history have been clear and remarkable. Early explorers, they made fortunes whaling before the year 1000 and became the premier cod fishermen in Europe after discovering Canada's Grand Banks. Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a Basque, was the first man to circumnavigate the globe in 1522. Their influence has also been felt in religion as founders of the Jesuits in 1534, and in business, as leaders of the Industrial Revolution in southern Europe.

Mark Kurlanky's passion for the Basque people, and his exuberant eye for detail, shine throughout this fascinating history. Like his acclaimed Cod, it blends human, economic, political, literary and culinary history into a rich and heroic tale.

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Review:

After basking in the shallows of success that surrounded Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Mark Kurlansky turns his attentions to the people who first hunted it and in doing so may have discovered America before John Cabot could say Isparsortalderatu. In a sense The Basque History of the World is the natural successor to Cod, for it grows organically from that book's early chapters. It unfolds the dramatic tale of the Basques as they fight off the challenges of the Vikings, the Romans, the Muslims and, for centuries now, the Spanish; proudly defensive of the remote and rugged hills on the edge of the Pyrenees, where Shakespeare set Love's Labour's Lost and that echoes with their peculiar agglutinating tongue. They are possibly Europe's aborigines and their language, unlike any other, was reputed to originate from, variously, the Tower of Babel, Atlantis and even the Garden of Eden. What's for certain is that it has defined their being when all else has been taken from them and that today, emerging from the shadow of the Franco regime's persecution, Europe's oldest nation wants to be its newest state. Kurlansky's recipe is reassuringly and familiarly unorthodox: intermingled with a stirring narrative are maps, photographs, pieces of reportage, quirky facts and, of course, recipes--the Basques are justly proud of their fish--and bean-based cuisine, something Kurlansky is not slow to savour. Where Cod was not simply about a big fish in The Big Pond but embraced the thorny problem of global over-fishing, The Basque History of the World does not confine its scope to the two and a half million people living in the seven Basque provinces. It speaks of violently modern and pervasive issues such as the notion of nationhood, borders and identity, and does so in a slyly humorous yet always passionate way. Be warned: This is not insipid, literary chloroform. What the imperious Kurlansky has written is a magnificently personal and driven tribute to a people and culture that have spellbound him for years and will warm the cockles of your heart (before adding them to a Ttoro stew). -- David Vincent

Review:

"A diligently researched, entertainingly anecdotal and lovingly partisan history" ( Independent)

"[An] informative, quirky and delightful book" ( Express)

"A riveting [story] told with charm and dexterity" ( Independent on Sunday)

"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... Each chapter...addresses a particular facet of Basque culture...while the whole is punctured with simple but mouth-watering recipes reflecting the glorious tradition of Basque cuisine. Proof - if proof were needed - that learning about history can be fun" ( Kirkus Review)

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 193 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod, Salt, and Birdseye the illuminating story of an ancient and enigmatic people 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. Among the Basques greatest accomplishments: Exploration the first man to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebastian de Elcano, was a Basque and the Basques were the second Europeans, after the Vikings, in North America Gastronomy and agriculture they were the first Europeans to eat corn and chili peppers and cultivate tobacco, and were among the first to use chocolate Religion Ignatius Loyola, a Basque, founded the Jesuit religious order Business and politics they introduced capitalism and modern commercial banking to southern Europe Recreation they invented beach resorts, jai alai, and racing regattas, and were the first Europeans to play sports with balls A delectable portrait of an uncanny, indomitable nation. Newsday Exciting, Illuminating, and thought provoking. The Boston Globe Entertaining and instructive [Kurlansky s] approach is unorthodox, mixing history with anecdotes, poems with recipes. The New York Times Book Review. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780140298512

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 193 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod, Salt, and Birdseye the illuminating story of an ancient and enigmatic people 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. Among the Basques greatest accomplishments: Exploration the first man to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebastian de Elcano, was a Basque and the Basques were the second Europeans, after the Vikings, in North America Gastronomy and agriculture they were the first Europeans to eat corn and chili peppers and cultivate tobacco, and were among the first to use chocolate Religion Ignatius Loyola, a Basque, founded the Jesuit religious order Business and politics they introduced capitalism and modern commercial banking to southern Europe Recreation they invented beach resorts, jai alai, and racing regattas, and were the first Europeans to play sports with balls A delectable portrait of an uncanny, indomitable nation. Newsday Exciting, Illuminating, and thought provoking. The Boston Globe Entertaining and instructive [Kurlansky s] approach is unorthodox, mixing history with anecdotes, poems with recipes. The New York Times Book Review. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780140298512

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