Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846

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Rose Marie Beebe, Robert M. Senkewicz
Heyday Books, 2001 - History - 506 pages
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Spanish and Mexican California is generally depicted through the journals of sea captains and other visitors. This ground-breaking collection offers another perspective: early California seen through the eyes of those who explored it, colonized it, and settled it in the age before the gold rush. Over sixty selections from letters, journals, official reports and proclamations, interrogations, and interviews -- many presented in English for the first time -- lay before us a surprisingly varied and dynamic portrait of an era generally dismissed as static, pastoral, or backward. Conflicts between missionaries and soldiers, Indians and non-Indians, Hispanic settlers and Anglo newcomers, friends and neighbors, spill out of the pages, bringing the ferment of daily life into sharp focus. Here we find not sleepy towns, quaint missions, or comic opera military outposts; rather an ever shifting world of struggle and opportunity, aspiration and tragedy, pride and loss.The first-person accounts are tied together with extensive introductions and commentaries by two well-known scholars, giving us an intimate portrait and placing the exploration and settlement of Alta California within the history of Baja California and the conquest of the New World.This ambitious and accessible book, with more than thirty illustrations, maps, and paintings, will influence greatly how we envision the history and legacy of Hispanic California and is sure to become the cornerstone for a new generation of early California studies.

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