a book about the basques

basque history of the world

“the basque history of the world” (1999) by mark kurlansky provides a lens to the basque country, its people and culture & their age old fight for autonomy \ the basque speak a “strange” old language <euskera> which has come to distinguish them / in fact, the basque name of their country is euzkadi from euskal which means “euskera speaking” with the suffix “di” meaning together \ the recent scottish vote for independence & its defeat likely resonated with the basque people / the basque country is an autonomous community \ economically, it has fared much better than the rest of spain

i grew up in the philippines, a former colony of spain \ the most prominent spanish explorers that we learned in history class were basque / juan sebastian de elcano, andres de urdaneta, miguel lopez de legazpi – all have many streets & places named after them / the philippines also plays the basque sports, pelota & jai alai \ unfamiliar to us though is basque rowing, in boats called traineras / the expatriate families during the colonial period assimilated & became prominent families, influential in the economy & politics of the philippines < such as  ynchausti, aboitiz, zobel de ayala, zubiri > \ if you asked the typical filipino, he|she would likely be oblivious of the difference between basque & spaniard even though “basque” would not be totally unfamiliar / euskera would likely be unknown to most filipinos since we only heard or learned spanish <castilian version at that>

the basques are obviously of special interest to me \ it gets even more interesting because i hadn’t known that guernica was in the basque country / picasso is my favorite artist & hemingway <a fan of things spanish> is a new favorite writer \ kurlansky must love the basques / he lets them off easy on eta’s acts of terrorism \ this seeming one-sidedness is i think a weakness of this book / but overall it was informative – most interesting were the franco years, how the basque political leadership centered basqueness into the language, and first person accounts of guernica

kurlansky is the author of a book that i recently read, “cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world”

One thought on “a book about the basques”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s