Raymond G. Starr, Book Review Editor
Portraits of Basques in the New World.
Edited by Richard W. Etulain and Jeronima Echeverria. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1999. Photographs, notes, bibliography, appendix, index. Xvi + 306 Pages. $31.95 Hardcover. This volume continues the University of Nevada Press’s long tradition of quality publications about the Basques, and especially the Basques in America. Portraits of Basques in the New World contains thirteen biographical sketches of Basques, beginning with participants in the Basque Dispora to colonial America, continuing through immigration in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and concluding with five chapters on modern American Basques of note. The chapters are by different authors, but even allowing for the unevenness inherent in collective works, they are consistently good pieces. Beyond telling the story of key individuals in the Basque experience, the book also shows the diversity of their contributions and activities, and makes possible some generalizations about Basque assimilation and persistence. For readers of the Journal of San Diego History, the most pertinent chapter will be Donald Garate’s piece on the de Anza family. Juan Bautista de Anza came to Sonora in 1712, gained a reputation fighting Indians, and became a captain in the Spanish army. One of his sons, also named Juan Bautista, was born in 1736 and likewise became a major figure on the northern Spanish frontier, participating, among other things, in the expulsion of the Jesuits from the area. He entered the California scene in 1774 by opening a road from Sonora to Alta California; the next year he led a convoy of settlers to Monterey, where they became one of the core population pools of Spanish California. He died in 1788 after a distinguished career in which he rose to position of colonel. His Basque roots and relationships are a part of his life few California historians deal with; this account broadens our knowledge of a major “founding father” of Spanish California.