construction, urban renewal and redevelopment, and problems with crime—but its residents faced these challenges with a tradition of political activism, community participation, and a strong sense of civic pride that is still evident today.
First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefs—from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse—who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
The legendary life and entrepreneurial vision of Fred Harvey helped shape American culture and history for three generations—from the 1880s all the way through World War II—and still influence our lives today in surprising and fascinating ways. Now award-winning journalist Stephen Fried re-creates the life of this unlikely American hero, the founding father of the nation’s service industry, whose remarkable family business civilized the West and introduced America to Americans.
Appetite for America is the incredible real-life story of Fred Harvey—told in depth for the first time ever—as well as the story of this country’s expansion into the Wild West of Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, of the great days of the railroad, of a time when a deal could still be made with a handshake and the United States was still uniting. As a young immigrant, Fred Harvey worked his way up from dishwasher to household name: He was Ray Kroc before McDonald’s, J. Willard Marriott before Marriott Hotels, Howard Schultz before Starbucks. His eating houses and hotels along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad (including historic lodges still in use at the Grand Canyon) were patronized by princes, presidents, and countless ordinary travelers looking for the best cup of coffee in the country. Harvey’s staff of carefully screened single young women—the celebrated Harvey Girls—were the country’s first female workforce and became genuine Americana, even inspiring an MGM musical starring Judy Garland.
With the verve and passion of Fred Harvey himself, Stephen Fried tells the story of how this visionary built his business from a single lunch counter into a family empire whose marketing and innovations we still encounter in myriad ways. Inspiring, instructive, and hugely entertaining, Appetite for America is historical biography that is as richly rewarding as a slice of fresh apple pie—and every bit as satisfying.
*With two photo inserts featuring over 75 images, and an appendix with over fifty Fred Harvey recipes, most of them never-before-published.
From the Hardcover edition.
How did Davy Crockett save President Jackson's life only to end up dying at the Alamo? Was the Lone Ranger based on a real lawman-and was he an African American? What amazing detective work led to the capture of Black Bart, the "gentleman bandit" and one of the west's most famous stagecoach robbers? Did Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid really die in a hail of bullets in South America? Generations of Americans have grown up on TV shows, movies and books about these western icons. But what really happened in the Wild West? All the stories you think you know, and others that will astonish you, are here--some heroic, some brutal and bloody, all riveting. Included are the ten legends featured in Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies docuseries -from Kit Carson to Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok to Doc Holliday-- accompanied by two bonus chapters on Daniel Boone and Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley.
Frontier America was a place where instinct mattered more than education, and courage was necessary for survival. It was a place where luck made a difference and legends were made. Heavily illustrated with spectacular artwork that further brings this history to life, and told in fast-paced, immersive narrative, Legends and Lies is an irresistible, adventure-packed ride back into one of the most storied era of our nation's rich history.
Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged wilderness of western Montana among the sheepherders and denizens of small-town saloons and valley ranches. What he deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is not only a raw sense of land and how it shapes us but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to those who love us, and our inextricable connection to those who shaped our values in our search for intimacy, independence, love, and family. A powerfully told story, This House of Sky is at once especially American and universal in its ability to awaken a longing for an explicable past.
“An ideal pairing of talent and material.… Engrossing.… A deft and ambitious storyteller.” – Mary Roach, New York Times Book Review
In April of 1846, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Graves, intent on a better future, set out west from Illinois with her new husband, her parents, and eight siblings. Seven months later, after joining a party of pioneers led by George Donner, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. In early December, starving and desperate, Sarah and fourteen others set out for California on snowshoes, and, over the next thirty-two days, endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.
In this gripping narrative, New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown sheds new light on one of the most legendary events in American history. Following every painful footstep of Sarah’s journey with the Donner Party, Brown produces a tale both spellbinding and richly informative.
Today, wildland fire is everybody’s business, from the White House to the fireground. Wildfires have grown bigger, more intense, more destructive—and more expensive. Federal taxpayers, for example, footed most of the $16 million bill for fighting the Esperanza Fire. But the highest cost was the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first wildland engine crew ever to be wiped out by flames.
When Papa Pilgrim, his wife, and their fifteen children appeared in the Alaska frontier outpost of McCarthy, their new neighbors saw them as a shining example of the homespun Christian ideal. But behind the family's proud piety and beautiful old-timey music lay Pilgrim's dark past: his strange connection to the Kennedy assassination and a trail of chaos and anguish that followed him from Dallas and New Mexico. Pilgrim soon sparked a tense confrontation with the National Park Service fiercely dividing the community over where a citizen’s rights end and the government’s power begins. As the battle grew more intense, the turmoil in his brood made it increasingly difficult to tell whether his children were messianic followers or hostages in desperate need of rescue.
In this powerful piece of Americana, written with uncommon grace and high drama, veteran Alaska journalist, Tom Kizzia uses his unparalleled access to capture an era-defining clash between environmentalists and pioneers ignited by a mesmerizing sociopath who held a town and a family captive.
On May 2, 1972, 174 miners entered Sunshine Mine on their daily quest for silver. Aboveground, safety engineer Bob Launhardt sat in his office, filing his usual mountain of federal and state paperwork. From his office window he could see the air shafts that fed fresh air into the mine, more than a mile below the surface. The air shafts usually emitted only tiny coughs of exhaust; unlike dangerously combustible coal mines, Sunshine was a fireproof hardrock mine, nothing but cold, dripping wet stone. There were many safety concerns at Sunshine, but fire wasn’t one of them. The men and the company swore the mine was unburnable, so when thick black smoke began pouring from one of the air shafts, Launhardt was as amazed as he was alarmed.
When the alarm sounded, less than half of the dayshift was able to return to the surface. The others were trapped underground, too deep in the mine to escape. Scores of miners died almost immediately, frozen in place as they drilled, ate lunch, napped, or chatted. No one knew what was burning or where the smoke had come from. But in one of the deepest corners of the mine, Ron Flory and Tom Wilkinson were left alone and in total darkness, surviving off a trickle of fresh air from a borehole.
The miners’ families waited and prayed, while Launhardt, reeling from the shock of losing so many men on his watch, refused to close up the mine or give up the search until he could be sure that no one was left underground.
In The Deep Dark, Gregg Olsen looks beyond the intensely suspenseful story of the fire and rescue to the wounded heart of Kellogg, a quintessential company town that has never recovered from its loss. A vivid and haunting chapter in the history of working-class America, this is one of the great rescue stories of the twentieth century.
From the Hardcover edition.
Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elkês experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
This complete edition features a new introduction by¾historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elkês story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition.
Andy Hall, a journalist and son of the park superintendent at the time, was living in the park when the tragedy occurred and spent years tracking down rescuers, survivors, lost documents, and recordings of radio communications. In Denali’s Howl, Hall reveals the full story of the expedition in a powerful retelling that will mesmerize the climbing community as well as anyone interested in mega-storms and man’s sometimes deadly drive to challenge the forces of nature.
Using his "End Poverty in California" movement (more commonly called EPIC) as a springboard, Sinclair ran for governor as a Democrat, equipped with a bold plan to end the Depression in California by taking over idle land and factories and turning them into cooperative ventures for the unemployed. To his surprise, thousands rallied to the idea, converting what he had assumed would be another of his utopian schemes into a mass political movement of extraordinary dimensions. With a loosely knit organization of hundreds of local EPIC clubs, Sinclair overwhelmed the moderate Democratic opposition to capture the primary election. When it came to the general election, however, his opposition employed highly effective campaign tactics: overwhelming media hostility, vicious red-baiting and voter intimidation, high-priced dirty tricks. The result was a resounding defeat in November.
I, Candidate tells the story of Sinclair's campaign while also capturing the turbulent political mood of the 1930s. Employing his trademark muckraking style, Sinclair exposes the conspiracies of power that ensured big-money control over the media and other powerful institutions.
Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, is surfer and former war reporter Chas Smith’s wild and unflinching look at the high-stakes world of surfing on Oahu’s North Shore—a riveting, often humorous, account of beauty, greed, danger, and crime.
For two months every winter, when Pacific storms make landfall, swarms of mainlanders, Brazilians, Australians, and Europeans flock to Oahu’s paradisiacal North Shore in pursuit of some of the greatest waves on earth for surfing’s Triple Crown competition. Chas Smith reveals how this influx transforms a sleepy, laid-back strip of coast into a lawless, violent, drug-addled, and adrenaline-soaked mecca.
Smith captures this exciting and dangerous place where locals, outsiders, the surf industry, and criminal elements clash in a fascinating look at class, race, power, money, and crime, set within one of the most beautiful places on earth. The result is a breathtaking blend of crime and adventure that captures the allure and wickedness of this idyllic golden world.
In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, an American buffalo herd once numbering 30 million animals was reduced to twelve. It was the era of Manifest Destiny, a Gilded Age that treated the West as nothing more than a treasure chest of resources to be dug up or shot down. The buffalo in this world was a commodity, hounded by legions of swashbucklers and unemployed veterans seeking to make their fortunes. Supporting these hide hunters, even buying their ammunition, was the U.S. Army, which considered the eradication of the buffalo essential to victory in its ongoing war on Native Americans.
Into that maelstrom rode young George Bird Grinnell. A scientist and a journalist, a hunter and a conservationist, Grinnell would lead the battle to save the buffalo from extinction. Fighting in the pages of magazines, in Washington's halls of power, and in the frozen valleys of Yellowstone, Grinnell and his allies sought to preserve an icon from the grinding appetite of Robber Baron America.
Grinnell shared his adventures with some of the greatest and most infamous characters of the American West—from John James Audubon and Buffalo Bill to George Armstrong Custer and Theodore Roosevelt (Grinnell's friend and ally). A strikingly contemporary story, the saga of Grinnell and the buffalo was the first national battle over the environment. In Grinnell's legacy is the birth of the conservation movement as a potent political force.
Arguing that America’s most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph.
For generations, California’s native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, there were scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day.
The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then–the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons and the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace.
Kevin Starr has devoted his career to the history of his beloved state, but he has never lost his sense of wonder over California’s sheer abundance and peerless variety. This one-volume distillation of a lifetime’s work gathers together everything that is most important, most fascinating, and most revealing about our greatest state.
From the Hardcover edition.
Macías conducted numerous interviews for Mexican American Mojo, and the voices of little-known artists and fans fill its pages. In addition, more famous musicians such as Ritchie Valens and Lalo Guerrero are considered anew in relation to their contemporaries and the city. Macías examines language, fashion, and subcultures to trace the history of hip and cool in Los Angeles as well as the Chicano influence on urban culture. He argues that a grass-roots “multicultural urban civility” that challenged the attempted containment of Mexican Americans and African Americans emerged in the neighborhoods, schools, nightclubs, dance halls, and auditoriums of mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles. So take a little trip with Macías, via streetcar or freeway, to a time when Los Angeles had advanced public high school music programs, segregated musicians’ union locals, a highbrow municipal Bureau of Music, independent R & B labels, and robust rock and roll and Latin music scenes.
Linking paradigmatic events like Japanese American internment and the Black civil rights movement, Kurashige transcends the usual "black/white" dichotomy to explore the multiethnic dimensions of segregation and integration. Racism and sprawl shaped the dominant image of Los Angeles as a "white city." But they simultaneously fostered a shared oppositional consciousness among Black and Japanese Americans living as neighbors within diverse urban communities.
Kurashige demonstrates why African Americans and Japanese Americans joined forces in the battle against discrimination and why the trajectories of the two groups diverged. Connecting local developments to national and international concerns, he reveals how critical shifts in postwar politics were shaped by a multiracial discourse that promoted the acceptance of Japanese Americans as a "model minority" while binding African Americans to the social ills underlying the 1965 Watts Rebellion. Multicultural Los Angeles ultimately encompassed both the new prosperity arising from transpacific commerce and the enduring problem of race and class divisions.
This extraordinarily ambitious book adds new depth and complexity to our understanding of the "urban crisis" and offers a window into America's multiethnic future.
Midcentury Los Angeles. A city sold to the world as "the white spot of America," a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values and Hollywood stars, protected by the world’s most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of "pleasure girls" and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men–one L.A.’s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief–each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.
Former street thug turned featherweight boxer Mickey Cohen left the ring for the rackets, first as mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel’s enforcer, then as his protégé. A fastidious dresser and unrepentant killer, the diminutive Cohen was Hollywood’s favorite gangster–and L.A.’s preeminent underworld boss. Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, and Sammy Davis Jr. palled around with him; TV journalist Mike Wallace wanted his stories; evangelist Billy Graham sought his soul.
William H. Parker was the proud son of a pioneering law-enforcement family from the fabled frontier town of Deadwood. As a rookie patrolman in the Roaring Twenties, he discovered that L.A. was ruled by a shadowy "Combination"–a triumvirate of tycoons, politicians, and underworld figures where alliances were shifting, loyalties uncertain, and politics were practiced with shotguns and dynamite. Parker’s life mission became to topple it–and to create a police force that would never answer to elected officials again.
These two men, one morally unflinching, the other unflinchingly immoral, would soon come head-to-head in a struggle to control the city–a struggle that echoes unforgettably through the fiction of Raymond Chandler and movies such as The Big Sleep, Chinatown, and L.A. Confidential.
For more than three decades, from Prohibition through the Watts Riots, the battle between the underworld and the police played out amid the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip and the mansions of Beverly Hills, from the gritty streets of Boyle Heights to the manicured lawns of Brentwood, intersecting in the process with the agendas and ambitions of J. Edgar Hoover, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. The outcome of this decades-long entanglement shaped modern American policing–for better and for worse–and helped create the Los Angeles we know today.
A fascinating examination of Los Angeles’s underbelly, the Mob, and America’s most admired–and reviled–police department, L.A. Noir is an enlightening, entertaining, and richly detailed narrative about the city originally known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Se–ora la Reina de los Angeles, "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels."
From the Hardcover edition.
At the heart of historic Los Angeles, the Plaza represents a quintessential public space where real and imagined narratives overlap and provide as many questions as answers about the development of the city and what it means to be an Angeleno. The author, a social and cultural historian who specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Los Angeles, is well suited to explore the complex history and modern-day relevance of the Los Angeles Plaza. From its indigenous and colonial origins to the present day, Estrada explores the subject from an interdisciplinary and multiethnic perspective, delving into the pages of local newspapers, diaries and letters, and the personal memories of former and present Plaza residents, in order to examine the spatial and social dimensions of the Plaza over an extended period of time.
The author contributes to the growing historiography of Los Angeles by providing a groundbreaking analysis of the original core of the city that covers a long span of time, space, and social relations. He examines the impact of change on the lives of ordinary people in a specific place, and how this change reflects the larger story of the city.
For nearly fifty years, she was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp: hero of the O.K. Corral and the most famous lawman of the Old West. Yet Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp has nearly been erased from Western lore. In this fascinating biography, Ann Kirschner, author of the acclaimed Sala's Gift, brings Josephine out of the shadows of history to tell her tale: a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention, and devotion. Reflective of America itself, her story brings us from the post–Civil War years to World War II, and from New York to the Arizona Territory to old Hollywood.
In Lady at the O.K. Corral, you’ll learn how this aspiring actress and dancer—a flamboyant, curvaceous Jewish girl with a persistent New York accent—landed in Tombstone, Arizona, and sustained a lifelong partnership with Wyatt Earp, a man of uncommon charisma and complex heroism.
Less than three months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and inflamed the nation, President Roosevelt signed an executive order declaring parts of four western states to be a war zone operating under military rule. The U.S. Army immediately began rounding up thousands of Japanese-Americans, sometimes giving them less than 24 hours to vacate their houses and farms. For the rest of the war, these victims of war hysteria were imprisoned in primitive camps.
In Infamy, the story of this appalling chapter in American history is told more powerfully than ever before. Acclaimed historian Richard Reeves has interviewed survivors, read numerous private letters and memoirs, and combed through archives to deliver a sweeping narrative of this atrocity. Men we usually consider heroes-FDR, Earl Warren, Edward R. Murrow-were in this case villains, but we also learn of many Americans who took great risks to defend the rights of the internees. Most especially, we hear the poignant stories of those who spent years in "war relocation camps," many of whom suffered this terrible injustice with remarkable grace.
Racism, greed, xenophobia, and a thirst for revenge: a dark strand in the American character underlies this story of one of the most shameful episodes in our history. But by recovering the past, Infamy has given voice to those who ultimately helped the nation better understand the true meaning of patriotism.
Contributors are Brenda D. Arellano, Leo R. Chavez, Yvette G. Flores, Ramón A. Gutiérrez, Aída Hurtado, Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Chon A. Noriega, Manuel Pastor Jr., Armida Ornelas, Russell W. Rumberger, Daniel Solórzano, Enriqueta Valdez Curiel, and Abel Valenzuela Jr.
Did you know that black history in California precedes Gold Rush history by some 300 years?
Did you know that in California during the Gold Rush, blacks created one of the wealthiest, most culturally advanced, most politically active communities in the nation?
Few people are aware of the intriguing, dynamic often wholly inspirational stories of African American argonauts, from backgrounds as diverse as those of their less sturdy- complexioned peers. Defying strict California fugitive slave laws and an unforgiving court testimony ban in a state that declared itself free, black men and women combined skill, ambition and courage and rose to meet that daunting challenge with dignity, determination and even a certain élan, leaving behind a legacy that has gone starkly under-reported.
Mainstream history tends to contribute to the illusion that African Americans were all but absent from the California Gold Rush experience. This remarkable book, illustrated with dozens of photos, offers definitive contradiction to that illusion and opens a door that leads the reader into a forgotten world long shrouded behind the shadowy curtains of time.
Contributors. Noa Emmett Aluli, Ibrahim G. Aoudé, Kekuni Blaisdell, Joan Conrow, Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua, Edward W. Greevy, Ulla Hasager, Pauahi Ho'okano, Micky Huihui, Ikaika Hussey, Manu Ka‘iama, Le‘a Malia Kanehe, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Anne Keala Kelly, Jacqueline Lasky, Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Nalani Minton, Kalamaoka'aina Niheu, Katrina-Ann R. Kapa'anaokalaokeola Nakoa Oliveira, Jonathan Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio, Leon No'eau Peralto, Kekailoa Perry, Puhipau, Noenoe K. Silva, D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Mehana Blaich Vaughan, Kuhio Vogeler, Erin Kahunawaika’ala Wright
Re-examining the history of American aviation, Craig S. Harwood and Gary B. Fogel present the story of human efforts to take to the skies. They show that history’s nearly exclusive focus on two brothers resulted from a lengthy public campaign the Wrights waged to profit from their aeroplane patent and create a monopoly in aviation. Countering the aspersions cast on Montgomery and his work, Harwood and Fogel build a solidly documented case for Montgomery’s pioneering role in aeronautical innovation.
As a scientist researching the laws of flight, Montgomery invented basic methods of aircraft control and stability, refined his theories in aerodynamics over decades of research, and brought widespread attention to aviation by staging public demonstrations of his gliders. After his first flights near San Diego in the 1880s, his pursuit continued through a series of glider designs. These experiments culminated in 1905 with controlled flights in Northern California using tandem-wing Montgomery gliders launched from balloons. These flights reached the highest altitudes yet attained, demonstrated the effectiveness of Montgomery’s designs, and helped change society’s attitude toward what was considered “the impossible art” of aerial navigation.
Inventors and aviators working west of the Mississippi at the turn of the twentieth century have not received the recognition they deserve. Harwood and Fogel place Montgomery’s story and his exploits in the broader context of western aviation and science, shedding new light on the reasons that California was the epicenter of the American aviation industry from the very beginning.
When President James K. Polk compelled a divided Congress to support his war with Mexico, it was the first time that the young American nation would engage another republic in battle. Caught up in the conflict and the political furor surrounding it were Abraham Lincoln, then a new congressman; Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion at any cost; and Henry Clay, the aging statesman whose presidential hopes had been frustrated once again, but who still harbored influence and had one last great speech up his sleeve. Beyond these illustrious figures, A Wicked War follows several fascinating and long-neglected characters: Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, whose death opened the door to Lincoln’s rise; Nicholas Trist, gentleman diplomat and secret negotiator, who broke with his president to negotiate a fair peace; and Polk’s wife, Sarah, whose shrewd politicking was crucial in the Oval Office.
This definitive history of the 1846 conflict paints an intimate portrait of the major players and their world. It is a story of Indian fights, Manifest Destiny, secret military maneuvers, gunshot wounds, and political spin. Along the way it captures a young Lincoln mismatching his clothes, the lasting influence of the Founding Fathers, the birth of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and America’s first national antiwar movement. A key chapter in the creation of the United States, it is the story of a burgeoning nation and an unforgettable conflict that has shaped American history.
The Nez Perce campaign is among the most famous in the brief and bloody history of the Indian wars of the West.a Yellow Wolf was a contemporary of Chief Joseph and a leader among his own men.a His story is one that had never been told and will never be told again.a A first person account, through author L.V. McWhorter of the Nez Perce's ill-fated battle for land and freedom. "
As the gold fever faded in the late 1800s, Humboldt County's primary source of industry became the lumbering of its vast redwoods. Pictured here are the men and machines that felled, transported, and milled the lumber, as well as photographs of the elegant Victorian mansions of the industry's lumber barons, such as William Carson. Weaving the history of Humboldt County together are the stories of its earliest residents, including the Native American tribes, fevered Gold Rushers, the early Chinese community, railroad workers, shipyard sailors, and industrious farming families, all of whom created the foundation it prospers on today.
Franciscan missionary friar Junípero Serra (1713–1784), one of the most widely known and influential inhabitants of early California, embodied many of the ideas and practices that animated the Spanish presence in the Americas. In this definitive biography, translators and historians Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz bring this complex figure to life and illuminate the Spanish period of California and the American Southwest.
In Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, Beebe and Senkewicz focus on Serra’s religious identity and his relations with Native peoples. They intersperse their narrative with new and accessible translations of many of Serra’s letters and sermons, which allows his voice to be heard in a more direct and engaging fashion.
Serra spent thirty-four years as a missionary to Indians in Mexico and California. He believed that paternalistic religious rule offered Indians a better life than their oppressive exploitation by colonial soldiers and settlers, which he deemed the only realistic alternative available to them at that time and place. Serra’s unswerving commitment to his vision embroiled him in frequent conflicts with California’s governors, soldiers, native peoples, and even his fellow missionaries. Yet because he prevailed often enough, he was able to place his unique stamp on the first years of California’s history.
Beebe and Senkewicz interpret Junípero Serra neither as a saint nor as the personification of the Black Legend. They recount his life from his birth in a small farming village on Mallorca. They detail his experiences in central Mexico and Baja California, as well as the tumultuous fifteen years he spent as founder of the California missions. Serra’s Franciscan ideals are analyzed in their eighteenth-century context, which allows readers to understand more fully the differences and similarities between his world and ours. Combining history, culture, and linguistics, this new study conveys the power and nuance of Serra’s voice and, ultimately, his impact on history.