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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2008
This very readable book surveys aspects of the present culture of the Basque Country on both sides of the Pyrenees, and examines how they've evolved, and how they might progress in the future. Cooking, sport, language, and music are among the subjects considered. All the personal anecdotes and accounts of festivities are relevant to the topic under discussion, lending more light on the bigger picture. Though not a travel guide as such, the book's narrative traverses the Basque Country, keying cultural observations to places (though the maps are fairly basic). In all, well presented and very thoroughly researched (with a 30 year gestation), it's a sound introduction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2012
After developing an interest in the Barque region through reading other fictional books I was keen to learn more about the history of the Basque region and its people. Aware that many books could be a little too heavy with facts, dates and people of historical note, I was looking for a book that would offer an introduction, to check if my interest went any further than that of the adventures of characters in other books. This book had mixed reviews with some saying offered everything they wnated to know and others suggesting that it was a touch flipent and at times direspectful to the true history of the region and people it was discussing. Having read it I can agree with both sides, the style in which it is written keeps the reading fairly light whilst still managing to touch on all topics I wanted to learn about. It is an enjoyable book to read and some of the recipes dotted throughout the book help to break it up. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the Basque region, but if your interest is at a level similar to mine you may find yourself soon reaching for something with a bit more depth to back up what you have read and learnt in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2010
Very good book. As the title above says, this is a very comprehensive guide to the Basques, setting todays country against a very complex historical past. It treads a careful path to portray as politically neutral observation of a people who (on every side of the equation) take an avid interest in their politics. Quite a feat.

Interwoven with this is a detailed knowledge of the place and the characters that have made the place what it is today. It is thus mostly not too heavy and has many interesting little sub-stories and character profiles. Having said this, towards the middle of the book you'll need to take the odd break to let your brain recover from the information overload of unbelievable political intricacies during and since the Franco period.

If you want a light read to take on holiday, this probably isn't it. It's what I bought it for (actually a holiday to the Basque country - also highly recommended!). Realistically, this is a tomb of information that will take quite a while to read and digest. So if you're buying it to research a potential holiday there, make sure you get it well in advance!

Hope this review's been of use to you.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2012
Somewhat meandering book that promises much, but I didn't care for the authors style and also felt that some crucial details particularly around the formation and mobilisation of the basque people was a shallow viewpoint. I also felt that he was far too disparaging of other authors works such as those of Kurlansky.

He successfully created the image of the basques as a strange curiosity rather than framing them within the appropriate historical context that they deserve.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2014
A very good journey through a fascinating part of the world. Recommended.
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