Book Reviews and Notices
BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
Anza's California Expeditions. By Herbert Eugene Bolton. Five
volumes. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1930.
Pp. xxi, 529; xii, 473; xviii, 436; xiii, 552; xviii, 426.
Illustrations and maps. $25.00.)
"Few episodes in early American history are so well docu-
mented as these Anza expeditions. . . . there is no need of
romancing, for the realities were more stirring than fiction. Seen
through the eyes of the participants, dependable water holes be-
come matters of life and death. On the very weeds eaten by the
pack mules might hang the fate of empire." (I, x.)
With such a setting Professor Bolton introduces the reader to
the two famous expeditions to California led by Captain Juan
Bautista de Anza, with which these five magnificent volumes deal.
The first expedition was in 1774, from Tubac, an outpost of Spain
in Pimeria Alta (southern Arizona of today), to San Gabriel,
near Los Angeles, pioneering the trail through the Colorado desert
and proving its practicability. The second was a colonizing ex-
pedition sent over the same route in 1775-1776, for the purpose
of occupying San Francisco Bay and strengthening the slender
hold of Spain on distant California.
Volume I is the author's own summary of the Anza expeditions
to California. It is a synthesis, simply but well written, bril-
liantly told. Here the most significant parts of the documents
are woven into a story of trail blazing and colony planting, as
fascinating and remarkable as any in the history of the Western
Hemisphere. An admirable galaxy of Spanish pilgrims occupy
the stage of the drama. We march with them, camp with them,
suffer hunger and thirst, frost and terrific heat as they did by turns
on the way between the Colorado River and the sea. Professor
Bolton's story is always full of human interest. The unruly pack
mules are "live" ones, the aguardiente full of mischief, and the
remonstrances of the fathers sincere. Occasionally, we find
humorous shafts, such as, "The 'new historians' will thrill to learn
that Anza's soldiers could not eat frijoles on the trail because
they carried no pots in which to cook them."
This volume adds vastly to the value of the set, for Professor
Bolton has put into it nearly a lifetime of study and interpreta-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/. Accessed April 16, 2014.