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Customer Review

on 31 May 2001
Mark Kurlansky, author of 'The Basque History of the World' (Jonathan Cape; 1999) presents one of the most accomplished books on Basque history ever written in English. Kurlansky blends human stories with cultural, political and culinary history. He, like many other authors is attracted by the challenge of the survival of this small country throughout thousands of years. Kurlansky reveals a different point of view on the Basque people, far from the stereotypes imposed by many modern journalists. The author, as a journalist himself, highlights the Basque's outstanding impact on Europe's historical evolution. "No word less describes Basques than the term separatist...Considering how small a group the Basques are, they have made remarkable contributions to world history", Kurlansky adds. The modern Basque Country represents a human group constituted by hardly three million people lost in the swarms of the great human crowds. A significant fact of the Basque Country is the tenacity for the historical survival, its touch of distinction for the cultural creation, and its collective memory for the development of a social identity. While the world has entered into the Third Millennium, over 650,000 people are speaking a language, Euskera, whose roots can be found in the Stone Age (6,000BC). The Basque sociologist Ruiz de Olabuenaga argues that "something that had defined and is still defining men and women of the Basque society is the conviction that we ourselves must create our own future and that the excellence of the history of this country can be lost. We are a small country but solid, intense,passionate between the unconditional fidelity to our tradition and the maximum compromise to the ambiguity of the future". Kurlansky summarizes the aspiration of the Basque people for such historical survival in the final sentence of his book: 'Garean gareana legez' - 'Let us be what we are' - (from Esteban de Garibay, Basque Historian, XVIthC).
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