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Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846 (California Legacy Book) Paperback – November 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: California Legacy Book
  • Paperback: 506 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890771481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890771485
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"On the right-hand side of the Indies there was an island called California, which was very close to the region of the Earthly Paradise." So reads a 1510 Spanish novel about a mythic land populated only by women; by the time Cervantes published Don Quixote some 100 years later, California "had evolved from an imagined to a real place," write editors Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz. In Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846, the editors gather together an impressive collection of primary documents the writings of early California settlers, primarily, many of whom were Spanish or Mexican to provide a rich early history of the region and the lives and the culture of the people who resided there. Illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

''An impressive collection of primary documents...provide a rich early history of the region and the lives and the culture of the people who resided there.''--Publishers Weekly

''The documents in Lands of Promise and Despair cover the whole panoply of human life as it existed in the centuries of Spanish rule. There is much to pore over in these pages: the frustrated, baffled report of the Portola expedition of 1768, sent overland to Monterey Bay, and who, unable to recognize it even as they marched on its shores, eventually gave up and returned south. Or the heartbreaking transcripts of trials of Indians arrested after revolts, where the pitiable plight of the red man in California comes through clearly.'' --Faultline, March 2002


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on July 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book covers the era when California (also known as Alta California) was a possession of Spain and Mexico. It is essentially a collection of first hand accounts from various people of this era.
Since most, if not all, of these accounts were originally in Spanish, they require translation, and that is the book's one weakness: almost all the accounts read like they were written by the same person; some of the character of the individual writers is lost.
Nonetheless, this is a good book, both readable and fast-moving. It is interesting that while we know a lot about the Revolutionary era and the founding of the United States, the topics in this book - which take place on the same continent at around the same time - are almost unknown. That, in itself, makes this book a good read.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James V. Sylvester on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stashed away in the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, in the Huntington Library in San Marino, and in a dozen other places are the original letters, diaries, reports, articles, and other accounts of Spanish and Mexican California. Such primary documents are simply inaccessible to the lay reader.

However, what Rose Marie Bebe and Robert Senkewicz -- both professors at Santa Clara University -- have done is to select various primary materials, draw excerpts, translate them to English, and then add introductory commentary to set each item in its historical context. The result provides a direct view into California's Spanish and Mexican heritage through the words of those who lived those times.

While each selection covers no more than a few pages, here are passages from Colombus, de las Casas, Cortes, Cabrillo, Vizcaino, Portola, Serra, Fages, Osio, Pico and many others whose names may be familiar from general surveys of California history. Also included, where possible, are accounts from the indigenous people and a selection from the Russians who hunted for furs along the northern coast. Of particular interest is "1785: Trials of a Frontier Woman" which contains a petition from Dona Callis in protest against her husband.

The compact disposition of each document allows for two advantages: the text never drags and the book is able to cover a comprehensive range of topics (more than seventy original documents are presented). This is a marvelous reader of carefully edited materials. The authors have done the hard work; their scholarship is for us to enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Little Stevie on May 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gathers excerpts from many different sources relating to the efforts of Spain to colonize early California. Some interesting early writings on the natives. The author/editor gives a little context in short writings on each section, and makes a great effort to keep his opinion aside and to be objective and open to the perspectives of the original actors. This is a good book for someone interested in seeing the thoughts and concepts of the early Spanish explorers and colonists, as well as getting some first and second-hand accounts of life for all the people in early 'California'.
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By Ss95387 on October 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just as described. Can't beat the price.
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