Paddy Woodworth's book is much greater and better than anything I expected. It is filled with jewels almost in every page. Easy to read, sensorially rich, with perfect background information on history, ethnography, politics, balanced in the political and cultural perceptions, incredibly perceptive to the nuances of daily life, with a great combination of empathy and distance towards the Basques.
This is a wonderful text. Woodworth has made a major contribution to the literature on the Basques. I think his book is the closest to the British folklorist Rodney Gallop's seminal A Book of the Basques 80 years ago. It is incredibly perceptive in most basic things about current Basques. It is written with great empathy. The text has a lot of things that are brand new, things that appear obvious to a well informed traveler like him but which have never been written before.
This is a perfect text for introductory courses to Basque studies.
Basques themselves could learn so much from this book. Because of his hard gained insights, balanced views, and the power of his writing, Woodworth has earned a central place among foreign writers commenting on the Basques. Looking at the Basque Country through the veracity and the appetite for knowledge and even the moments of magic displayed by his text, a place as small as the one he describes becomes indeed a universe.
Woodworth has the merit of having opened the doors to the vision and taste, enigma and struggle of the place like no one else in recent years.
Joseba Zulaika is the author of numerous books and articles on the Basque Country, including Basque Violence; Terrorism and Taboo (with William Douglass); Chronicle of a Seduction (about the Guggenheim); ETA's Ashes, and That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City. He is a former director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Reno where he currently teaches anthropology. This edited version of the review is published here with his kind permission.