Friday, July 01, 2022

A Description of Distant Roads: Original Journals of the First Expedition into California, 1769-1770 by Juan Crespí

A Description of Distant Roads: Original Journals of the First Expedition into California, 1769-1770 by Juan Crespí
Edited and Translated by Alan K. Brown.
San Diego State University Press,
2001. ISBN 1-879691-64-
890 pages || deluxe hard cover edition || $69.95


This volume includes the complete journals of Juan Crespí in Spanish and English. Este tomo incluye los diarios completos de Juan Crespí en español y ingles.

Alan K. Brown's opus makes available for the first time the complete journals of Juan Crespí, the Franciscan friar who accompanied the first expeditions that established Spanish presence in Alta California. Beginning at the northern edge of the mission frontier of Baja California, the 1769 expedition trekked overland some three hundred miles to establish San Diego. From there, Crespí and the contingent of military personnel and Indian auxiliaries traveled northward on to Monterey and back again. Crespí journals provide the first detailed observations about the new land of Alta California and its peoples. This book is an essential source for the history of Spanish occupation of Alta California and the native Americans inhabiting the land.

This volume, which is the result of some forty years of research by Alan K. Brown, brings together what Crespí wrote in its entirety. All other printed and manuscript versions were censored, heavily edited, condensed, and excerpted by Serra, Palou, and othersalterations that dropped out critical detail and valuable information. This edition makes all other printed versions of Crespí's journals obsolete. Brown has stitched together the complete journals from different manuscript versions in archives in Europe and the Americas. They are presented by the editor in the original Spanish with detailed annotations and comparisons of alternate versions of sections of the text. As well, Brown provides a new English translation of the full texts.

The work includes an extensive introduction by Alan K. Brown that in itself is a valuable contribution to the history of the period and gives a detailed and realistic vision of the life of Crespí. The volume also contains detailed explanatory notes, an index of sites, a general index, and a list of references.

What the experts are saying:
"Thanks to the erudition and detective work of Alan K. Brown and the high scholarly standards of SDSU Press, we no longer have to depend on a flawed version of this essential account of the founding of Spanish California. This is the definitive edition, in English AND Spanish."

David J. Weber, Dedman Professor of History, Southern Methodist University, and author of The Spanish Frontier in North America (1992) and many other books on the Spanish-Mexican borderlands.

"This work will be an integral part of any collection of basic California historical materials. Researchers in related fields such as anthropology, historical geography, and ethnobotany, along with history buffs and mission aficionados will seize upon it as a Îmust read itemâ and it becomes an instant Îmust possessâ title for any California library reference collection. Alan K. Brown deserves immense credit for his monumental research, editing, and analytical effort that produced this volume."

Harry W. Crosby, author of Antigua California, Mission Colony on the Peninsular Frontier, (1994).

"Alan K. Brown has provided historians, scholars, and researchers with a tremendous gift. His monumental and authoritative translation of Crespí's complete journals will quickly become an indispensable work for all who study the history of California. The introduction to Brown's work is, in and of itself, a masterful piece of research and writing. The extensive and thorough footnotes attest to Brown's careful attention to detail and desire to include the latest scholarship in his work. Brown's translations from the original Spanish texts are superbly done. They remain faithful to the Spanish but are "reader-friendly." Having the Spanish version of the original journals available in the text for comparison purposes greatly increases the value of Brown's contribution to researchers."

Rose Marie Beebe, President, California Mission Studies Association and Professor of Spanish, Santa Clara University

1 comment:

Keith Ensminger said...

This is an outstanding history with source documents. Crespi's description of the people and environment is an excellent resource on how their agricultural practices, their skilled crafts, and lifestyles. I am amazed at the generosity of the people the Spaniards met who offered huge offerings of food and led to expedition to new pasture and water. Crespí said the Chumash along the Channel Islands built plank boats as well built as anything he saw in Mexico or Spain. I frequently share this book with others on historical groups .