From the author of CodΓÇöthe 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 contradictionΓÇöthey 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, EuskeraΓÇöthe most ancient in EuropeΓÇöis 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:
ExplorationΓÇöthe 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 agricultureΓÇöthey were the first Europeans to eat corn and chili peppers and cultivate tobacco, and were among the first to use chocolate
ReligionΓÇöIgnatius Loyola, a Basque, founded the Jesuit religious order
Business and politicsΓÇöthey introduced capitalism and modern commercial banking to southern Europe
RecreationΓÇöthey invented beach resorts, jai alai, and racing regattas, and were the first Europeans to play sports with balls