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Junipero Serra: California's Founding Father Hardcover – September 3, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Hardcover - September 3, 2013 edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809095319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809095315
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Meticulously researched . . . a must-read for anyone interested in Serra, California, or the history of colonialism in the Americas.”
Publishers Weekly

“A consummate archivist of California history, Hackel has produced a definitive Golden State biography.”
Kirkus Reviews

“At last, in Steven W. Hackel’s Junípero Serra, we have an intelligent and authoritative biography of the founder of California. Hackel’s engaging narrative deftly transports us to the end of the eighteenth century and the frontier of the Spanish empire. His Serra is neither sinner nor saint, but rather a devout idealist who quietly helps unleash powerful forces of social change. Junípero Serra is an essential contribution to the history of the West.”
—Héctor Tobar, author of The Barbarian Nurseries

“Junípero Serra was a man for all seasons: a saint as well as an ogre, a ‘founding father,’ an agricultural visionary, and a merciless imperialist—in short, a figure whose legacy is nothing if not polarizing. Steven W. Hackel is a courageous biographer. His portrait of the Franciscan priest who invented California doesn’t shy away from controversy: it is as evenhanded as it is humane. It proves, yet again, that this nation wasn’t built only by Puritans; it was also shaped by Spanish conquistadores, explorers, and missionaries whose choices continue to define us in countless ways.”
—Ilan Stavans, general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature

“Steven W. Hackel’s stunning biography so fully re-creates Father Junípero Serra’s eighteenth-century life that one can almost feel the passionate certitude and searing drive that Serra employed to convert so many native Californians to Christianity and the cultural destruction and human emptiness that Serra’s success unleashed upon them after his death. Hackel’s exhaustive research quietly magnifies the measured judgments that propel this compellingly intimate yet historically expansive biography. It surpasses anything ever written about the West Coast’s most potent and controversial ‘founding father.’”
—Jon Butler, Professor of History, Yale University, and author of Becoming America

“In this rich portrait of Father Junípero Serra, we see entire worlds collide, overlap, and forever influence one another. As complex and remarkable as the times in which he lived, Serra has long deserved a careful, smart, and judicious study, and now we have it.”
—William Deverell, chair, Department of History, University of Southern California

“Steven W. Hackel’s Junípero Serra is both a compelling narrative and a comprehensive study of the complexities of Serra’s life and the transformative events of his time. A masterpiece.”
—José Refugio de la Torre Curiel, author of Twilight of the Mission Frontier

Junípero Serra is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of California and for lovers of biography.”
—Sylvia L. Hilton, coeditor of Nexus of Empire

About the Author

Steven W. Hackel is an associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of the award-winning Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769–1850. He also directs a project in digital history, the Early California Cultural Atlas, and is co-curator of the Huntington Library’s exhibit Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions. He lives in Pasadena, California.

Customer Reviews

Its style is fluid, clear, full of interesting details, objective and informative.
Antoinette Constable
If you can do a bit of time travel while reading this book and leave your 21st century mind-set behind, you will find an enjoyable trip ahead of you.
M. James
This book was interesting to read because of the historical information on the Padre and the Missions and the Native Americans.
Gerald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. James on September 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm surprised to be the first person to review this interesting book recently published about Fr. Junipero Serra, the founder of several California Missions and the most well known Franciscan in America. I live ten minutes away from a California Mission and after reading this book was disappointed to learn it was founded by one of Fr. Serra's compatriots - not the holy man himself. This book is well-researched and very scholarly, objective and carefully balanced. The story is deftly written so as to keep your attention and isn't the least dry or long-winded, so to speak. It amazed me that so much information was available about someone who lived 250 years ago and the author presents the facts in such a way as though to resurrect Fr. Serra from his dusty resting place in Carmel, California. Padre Serra is seen as a flesh and blood person that you would like to share a cup of coffee with. Yes, there is controversy surrounding Fr. Serra and his treatment of the native peoples. Yet it needs to be kept in mind that it was a totally different world 250 years ago and we cannot judge it by our present day sensitivities. While our times are just as violent as the times in which Padre Serra lived we've become adept at rationalization of our own behavior while often being hypercritical of long-ago historical periods. If you can do a bit of time travel while reading this book and leave your 21st century mind-set behind, you will find an enjoyable trip ahead of you. Padre Serra was a product of his times; he made mistakes but he never gave up.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Carrillo on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent historical method; religious elements approached with professional lack-of-bias. Resources (Notes and suggestions for further reading) make the book even more valuable for study.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Isaac McDaniel on October 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an engaging and well-written biography, carefully researched and interesting to read.
Hackel brings Father Serra alive on the pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ida Rhodes on March 2, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides a comprehensive history of Fr. Serra which includes a context for the foundation of his faith. The book is well researched making effective reference to his family, personal letters (from a variety of sources), Spanish and early Mexican correspondence. I found two aspects of this history particularly interesting: his religious intolerance and today's recognition of the Old World's catastrophic impact on native populations in New Spain and Alta California in particular. Father Serra is caste as somewhat old school, liturgically dogmatic and heavily influenced by the strict Spanish inquisition period that still continued at his time (though its height preceded him in Spain by 200 years). Alta California's native tribes are described in a sympathetic and tragic manner. Clearly, this description is not great depth but sufficient to illustrate the contrast in culture appropriate to this story of Fr. Serra.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mary K on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was researched thoroughly and the author wrote clearly. I found the author emphasizing Father Serra's personal faults and mitigating his accomplishments. The epilogue was written to be politically correct. Although the author wrote about some miraculous incidents in Father Serra's life, it seemed to me that he was uncomfortable with the whole notion of economy of grace and mysticism. I found his secular writing style to be somewhat unnerving and out of his league for penning a biography about someone who lived and breathed evangelization. His treatment of Father Serra's discerning his vocation to be a priest was disappointing and a stretch (according to the author it was probably all about lack of money to get married instead of a religious calling by God...I really doubt that). I am glad I read the book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Constable on July 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Junipero Serra, By Steven Hackel

If you're searching for a meticulously researched tome about the kingdom of Mallorca, around 1300, New Spain about 1769 and Alta California around 1784,
this is the book for you. Its style is fluid, clear, full of interesting details, objective and informative.
A vast historical panorama will spread in front of you, including religious beliefs and practices, life among the poor and the powerful, and the vagaries of climate change which, withholding water, caused famines, affecting the poorest communities of Mallorca, into one of which Mikel Joseph Serra was born.
If you enjoy armchair travel under harsh circumstances, you will become engrossed into the lives of the Pames Indians, and learn why they were considered by Catholic priests backward and stupid. If you like tales of discovery and tenacity, this is the book for you.
If you hope to meet a man of God, a loving, supportive explorer who desired nothing more than to help the Indian populations improve their lot, their
culture of slash and burn, you will be aghast. Serra, who came to California
as a middle-aged man shows himself incapable of empathy, lacking in the most basic curiosity about the Indians, their culture and their art.
When, leaving his post as professor of theology to become an explorer at the service of the Spanish government, he may have been a visionary, but he was no paternal, or avuncular figure. He thought nothing of having the wives of Indians--who left to visit their lands--chained and locked up until their return. Indians must all sign their name to prove they attended religious services. They must cultivate the land around the missions in the European way. They must live around the mission, unpaid for their labor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Steven W. Hackel is an associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of the award-winning Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California,1769-1850. He is the general editor of the Huntington Library's Early California Population Project and directs a project in digital history, the Early California Cultural Atlas. He is co-curator of the Huntington Library's exhibit, Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions. He lives in Pasadena, California.

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