Spotlight on Boise authors, Basque culture, Mormon women

‘Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean’ by William A. Douglass (Reno, Nev.); Center for Basque Studies ($24.95)

The Pacific Ocean was for several centuries, from the discovery of the Strait of Magellan in 1520 until Cook’s voyages in the 1700s, considered to be the “Spanish Lake.” However, Spain was never a monolithic entity, and this book then considers “Spanish” exploration in the Pacific from the perspective of the Basques, who have an important maritime tradition and were key figures in Pacific exploration.

From Juan Sebastián Elkano’s taking over command of the Victoria after Ferdinand Magellan’s death and completing the first circumnavigation of the planet to Andrés de Urdaneta’s discovery of the north Pacific route from the Philippines to modern-day Acapulco, Mexico, Basque mariners and ships were pivotal in the European incursion into this vast area.

‘When the Basques Ruled California’ by John J. O’Hagan (Boise); Caxton Press ($17.95)

“When the Basques Ruled California” details the surprising history of early California from 1784 to 1834, a period in which virtually all of the positions of power in California — military, political and ecclesiastical — were held by Basques. In those 50 years, these men put a unique stamp on how the territory was defined, how it was run, and its role in the formation and growth of the western United States.

O’Hagan has spent years researching and visiting the famed missions of California. During that research he found a surprising and recurring theme — a disproportionate number of leaders in Spanish-occupied California were of Basque origin. These leaders — Juan Bautista de Anzas, Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, Felipe de Goicochea, Diego de Borica, and others — were among the men who wielded military and ecclesiastical power as the native peoples of California were introduced to the might of the Spanish crown.

‘Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women’ edited by Jamie Zvirzdin (Utah native); Signature Books ($22.95)

The 12 essays in this anthology provide a refreshing array of female perspectives, personalities and circumstances. Along with an introduction by Jamie Zvirzdin, the essays invite readers to recognize and own their personal struggles, gifts, faults and desires and to accept where they stand on the spectrum of humanity. “Fresh Courage Take” demonstrates that the road to heaven is not a conveyor belt powered by a checklist of religious obligations, cooked casseroles and a collection of children. The authors span a wide range of views and situations in life: politically conservative to progressive, single to married with many children, highly educated to working-class, stay-at-home moms to the professionally successful, of European or African heritage, and religiously orthodox to heterodox.

‘The Year of the Tiger: True Confessions of a Real Estate Broker’ by Adelaide McLeod (Boise); Caxton Printers ($13)

In 1970, this right-brained woman entered the left-brained world of real estate in Boise to discover she was interloping on business largely dominated by men. This book is a true story and reveals what business was like in those days. McLeod draws verbal pictures of her agents and their humorous shenanigans that played a big part in the comic relief so essential in this demanding and serious business. She credits her charmed life for finding the perfect office and amassing a group of outstanding agents who joined her company. She gives you her view of the what and why real estate so drastically changed soon after the millennium. McLeod went on to great success on her own terms and has published a book about her experience.