The Basques by Jacques Allières
Many modern French speakers have come to know about the Basques through Jacques Allières’s concise, reliable book, which we now publish in English for the first time. Published in the 1970s, before the post-Franco Spanish constitution and the creation of the autonomous communities on the South side of the border and written from the perspective of the north, this book provides and invaluable snapshot of a time and place in Basque history. The book is part of the Presses Universitaires de France’s well-known collection Que sais-je? (What do I know about?), one of which is Allières’s The Basques, about the Basque Country and its inhabitants. A linguist, Allières has much to say about the language, but he is well versed on many other subjects. Prehistory, history, geography, economy, and much more are presented in this slender little volume. As Allières states in his introduction, offering information about the Basques in such a limited format is almost impossible. He does so by giving the reader useful information in each section without reducing the high standard of his academic texts, as befits a book that is part of an encyclopedia, particularly in connection, directly or indirectly, with the language. In fact, while this book offers little information about items of contemporary culture, that is not the work’s main subject: it is more centered on ethnology and anthropology, which is why the language takes such a prominent place, the Basques themselves using it to denominate their own ethnic group.