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'History, reportage, travel writing, wisdom and recipes - entertaining and enlightening' Sunday Times
Mark Kurlansky is the author of several bestselling non-fiction titles including Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (winner of the Glenfiddich Best Food Book Award), The Basque History of the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, a short story collection The White Man in the Tree and a novel, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue.
In this study, award-winning author Kurlansky examines Europe's oldest and most mysterious surviving culture from pre-Roman times to the present. The Basques fought with Hannibal against Rome and became the first to circumnavigate the globe when a Basque took the helm after Magellan's death. They were Europe's first commercial whalers and played a prominent role in commerce with the New World. The author's lively style is most endearing; he'll often use Basque recipes as a means of transition. Since this does a first-rate job explaining relations among modern Basques, Spaniards, and Europeans, the work is an important source. What makes this recorded book version so exquisite is George Guidall's magnificent narration he finds drama and humor where no one else can. James L. Dudley, Westhampton Beach, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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 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. Along the way, he explains how the Basques came to be among Europe's first whalers, capitalists, explorers, industrialists and international traders. As he did in Cod, Kurlansky fuses political and economic history with delightful digressions into cultural and culinary traditions (several delicious recipes are included). The book is as politically loaded with opinion as it is culturally informative: Kurlansky expresses sympathy for the cause of Basque independence, arguing that many of Spain's current policies toward its Basque minority are holdovers from the repressive Franco regime. He also tends to accept the claim that the Basques "are the original Europeans," largely on the ground that Euskera, the Basque language, appears to have no linguistic relative and is likely the oldest European language still spoken. For all the ground it covers, this wildly informative work is a marvel of clarity, glittering with unusual facts and marked by penetrating insights into a people always "making complex choices about the degree of independence that was needed to preserve their way of life, while looking to the rest of the world for commercial opportunities to ensure their prosperity." 56 illustrations, 6 maps, 10 recipes. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy Agency. 5-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: Cod received the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing and was a New York Public Library Best Book of 1997. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"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