Possible Paradises: Basque Emigration to the Americas

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From Columbus's first voyage to the Indies in 1492, Basques have participated in Spain's American enterprise. Supported by centuries of experience as mariners, shipbuilders, traders, miners and ironworkers; encouraged toward emigration by restrictive inheritance laws and a land-poor territory; and conditioned by a culture that prized hard work and social solidarity, the Basques were poised to play a significant role in the exploration and development of the New World. The first Basques arrived with Columbus, and well into the 20th century they continued to arrive seeking livelihood and refuge. Possible Paradises , Jose Manuel Azcona Pastor's study of Basque emigration to the Americas, is a work considered to be of monumental importance. Covering mo re than five centuries of history, Azcona examines the roles and fates of the Basques who came to the New World. He also studies the impact of the New World on the Basque Country. He considers the role of Basques in the Spanish imperial expeditions of exploration and conquest, and their participation in transatlantic commerce and communication. The Basque diaspora, although worldwide in dimension, has had its greatest presence and importance in the Americas. Enhanced by numerous tables and graphs, maps, name lists and photographs, Azcona's pioneering study views the Basque presence in the New World through the broadest possible lens, linking Basque communities and activities from Argentina to the North American West.