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To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico Paperback – May 4, 2008

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231129374 ISBN-10: 0231129378

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To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico + New Mexico's Crypto-Jews: Image and Memory + A History of the Jews in New Mexico
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Editorial Reviews


To the End of the Earth is a true magnum opus and a fitting conclusion to decades of research.

(David Caffey Prime Time)

For those tracking... family histories, this may prove invaluable... For any reader interested in how culture survives, this book is an inspiring one.

(New Mexico)

For any reader interested in how culture survives, this book is an inspiring one.

(New Mexico Magazine)

The most extensively researched book on the subject to date... a compelling sociological study.

(Ze'ev Glicenstein The Canadian Jewish News)

This book, honestly researched and beautifully written, can enlarge understanding of the troubled road followed by our evolving Western civilization.

(Marc Simmons Santa Fe New Mexican)

A compelling sociological study.

(Bill Gladstone AVOTAYNU 1900-01-00)

This is a well told and stunningly researched detective story.

(David J. Webber Western Historical Quarterly 1900-01-00)

Remarkable-even astonishing-though, that we have had to wait until 2005 for a book to appear on a topic that is so intrinsically interesting and that so directly links North American history with that of the Iberian Peninsula.

(Hispanic American Historical Review)

Hordes builds a compelling case that can not be easily dismissed.

(Dr. Fred Reiss The Midwest Book Review 1900-01-00)

Hordes has made an important contribution to our understanding of the religious and ethnic diversity of the Southwest and of the force that the beliefs and practices he has brought to light continues to exert in the lives of the people of the region.

(Thomas M. Cohen The Americas)

[Hordes] reasons from past to present, and the present back to the past, constructing a message about the role of history in understanding how we see ourselves and how others see us.

(El Palacio)

By both assembling the genealogical legacy of Judaism in New Mexico, and supplementing it with rich insight into the everyday practices of crypto-Jewish communities in New Spain, Hordes has made a remarkable contribution to the study of these people.

(Kathleen Holscher H-NewMexico)

Any scholar seriously interested in global history or putting the "American experience" in a global context would be well served to pick up a copy.

(Paul Kahan Religious Studies Review 1900-01-00)

This book's combination of traditional archival research and oral history makes it a valuable addition to syllabi.

(Andrea Orzoff The Public Historian 1900-01-00)


Like a skilled tracker, Hordes pursues a prey at pains to cover its tracks, linking the bold 15th- and 16th-century persecution of Iberian Jews to a faint crypto-Jewish persistence in 21st-century New Mexico. Original, persuasive, humane.

(John Kessell, University of New Mexico, author of Spain in the Southwest: A Narrative History of Colonial New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California)|

A pathfinding work of collective biography and ethnohistory. Hordes makes a fundamental contribution to emerging social structure in New Mexico and the Southwest, authoritatively researched in Iberian and Mexican archives. This book breaks new ground in Diaspora studies. It illuminates the rewarding possibility of research in Inquisition trials, and the valuable data in Inquisition records outside of the trials per se. It documents the often-held view that there is other gold in the Indies.

(Richard Greenleaf, professor emeritus of colonial Latin American history, Tulane University, author of The Mexican Inquisition of the Sixteenth Century)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231129378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231129374
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By P. M Simon on June 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Thesis: Many of the Spanish settlers of New Mexico were either secretely practising Jews or recent converts. Through the ensuing centuries, some kept up tradition and practice of their Hebrew faith, in all or part.

I heard this hypothesis when I first moved to the Land of Enchantment in 1979. Most locals took it as likely. However, "studies" on the subject were mainly collections of anecdotes of familes that did not eat pork or that played with draedels in December but didn't know why.

Stanley Hordes has done scholarship a real service with his meticulous, well-documented, and systematic research, as presented in To The End of the Earth. Rather than rushing into anecdotes, he first gives a broad backdrop of the history of Judaism in Iberia and the political and religious upheavals there in the 13th through 16th centuries.

Having set the stage, Hordes then follows families of "new Christians" to Mexico. Through an examination of correspondence, records of the Holy Office (Inquisition) and other documents, he traces the likely practice of crypto-Judaism in Old Mexico.

Only then does he set forth north of the Rio Bravo to see the fate of some likely Jewish or formerly Jewish families, trace their practices, and scour for physical evidence among a group that was reticent to leave records of what was long an illegal practice.

Hordes wraps up nicely with not only the family stories but with DNA and blood protein studies. He falls short in actually finding evidence such as hidden synagogues or secret Torahs, but he certainly paints a compelling picture that many of the Hispano settlers of New Mexico were, at the very least, reluctant conversos.

This is an engrossing and well-referenced work for any serious scholar. While not light reading, it is also not too challenging for a non-anthropologist.

By all means, if the thesis is of interest to you, you should order this book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Baca on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A couple of years ago I went to a lecture that Dr. Stanley Hordes presented to the New Mexico Genealogy Society. He discussed his then upcoming book about crypto-Jews in New Mexico titled "To the End of the Earth." What intrigued me about Dr. Hordes lecture was that he found proof that the colony of Nuevo Leon, Nuevo Espana ( present day Mexico) probably was populated with crypto-Jews. This same colony en masse tried to illegally colonize New Mexico in 1591, and a few of these people were also part of the official New Mexico colony in 1598. Dr. Hordes' makes a very good argument that there were crypto-Jews in New Mexico during the first years of colonization and that their descendants continued practicing Judaism up until the present day.

A crypto-Jew is a person who converted or whose ancestors converted to Christianity yet still secretly practices Judaism. As with many other Christian countries, Jews were persecuted in Spain during the Middle Ages. In 1390 many Jews converted to Christianity after an especially devastating pogrom. In 1492, after King Fernando and Queen Isabel conquered the last vestige of Muslim Spain in Granada, the Christian monarchs officially expelled the Jews from Spain. All who stayed in Spain were required to convert to Catholicism. Many went to Portugal where they too were forced to convert.

The Spanish Inquisition persecuted many of these New Christians as apostates and heretics. Many were accused of going back to their old religion. In order to avoid prosecution many New Christians went to the New World. Dr. Hordes shows how one such colony from Portugal under the leadership of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva were almost definitely New Christians, and most likely crypto-Jews.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Martinez on December 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This new book by Dr. Hordes is an excellent introduction to an area of study that has been given only opinionated overviews up to this point. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Horde's thesis, that fact is Sephardic Jewish culture is a crucial element of the overall Hispanic experience, as much as the Moorish, Roman, and Visigothic contributions. To deny this is to live in darkness. As Spain's historiography is finally opening and accepting of its Jewish past, so too should Hispanic Americans open up and accept that past. It is reality.

While a well written book, I also enjoyed immensely the copious footnotes Horde's provides, to give an indication of the enormous amount of work and research that went into this book. Archives throughout Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Mexico, and New Mexico were searched for scattered references and indications of ANY possible behavior that could point the way to any latent Crypto-Jewish practices or cultural rememberances. Inquisition documents, incredible sources of social and cultural history, were used in an amazing way to gain insight into the world of these Hispanic peoples living in times more complex than we may care to admit.

Ultimately, one must make up their own mind regarding the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico. But if one is responsible in their intellect, they will make an informed decision, one that will require the reading of this book. Whether one's name is Encinias, Truxillo, Martinez, or Chavez, it cannot be denied: you have a Sephardic Jewish past. It comes through not only our bloodlines in Iberia, co-mingling with the native blood of the Americas, but also through our rich Catholic cultural heritage, which itself sprang out of the Jewish Semitic Middle East.

Anyone interested in the diverse and fascinating experience that is the Hispanic experience in the Americas, and in New Mexico in particular, needs to read this book now!
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