Monday, October 6, 2008


GUERNICA by Dave Boling
Bloomsbury, Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-59691-563-3

One of the things that I love about books is their ability to change my perception of the world. This book is no exception to the rule. I will forever be changed because of the journey through its pages. The writing took me to this place in spirit.

The book starts out with a view of the town “Guernica” shortly after a terrible event has occurred. You see the broken remains of many of the people but mostly the pain and sorrow of Justo (WHO-stow) who is the character that much of the book’s story revolves around if at times only remotely. Now that the book has set up the future it returns to the past to give you a much better picture of the people of the village of Guernica and the Ansotegui family.

Justo is the strong man of the town and also oldest of three brothers who has to care for them and the family’s farm. Becoming the “father figure” at such a young age in many ways made him the boy that never quite grew up having to bypass his boyhood to become a man to young. As the story progresses you see the story of his family and the joy that is what being Basque is all about. If there is a culture that can find an excuse to be happy any time and anywhere it is the Basques.

The book takes a fictional family and places it during a very real, very deadly, and horrific act that was perpetuated against them in the name of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing of this town was done by Nazi planes using it mainly as a training mission of young flyers to prepare for the impending WWII. The town had more bombs dropped on it in one afternoon than were dropped during the entirety of WWI.

This bombing is one portion of what this book is about. Unfortunately history books often only tell us the statistics of war. This book beautifully tells you about the people of war, especially a very proud people who refused to be victims of war.
I fell in love with all of the characters in the book. They were not perfect people, they had troubles, and they had flaws. But they did their best to overcome and maintain who they were as people and as a culture.

To be honest I could not read any other books for awhile after I read this one. I just did not want to let go of the characters. I even went out and got some books on Basque cooking and made a Basque meal for my birthday. The Basque people like to celebrate and if you would like to read about the celebration of life even under the shadow of adversity you will love this book.

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