Book Reviews

Book Review: Junipero Serra


The author, and associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, has accomplished the task of writing a well-researched book about Junipero Serra.

Any wine lover familiar with California wine must have heard about Junipero Serra who founded several missions up and down California to convert indigenous tribe members to Catholicism. The objective was to teach them about agricultural techniques of the time, and make them pious citizens of New Spain.

The book starts with a brief history of the Kingdom Of Mallorca in western Mediterranean, then explains the Spanish government’s bureaucracy in New Spain and the central established in Mexico City to administer all rules and regulations. It also explains in great detail how personal interests of officials impeded evolution and advancement.

Junipero Serra’s life from birth to death are meticulously researched and eloquently recorded.

As a Franciscan and member of the Inquisition, he was not only a missionary, but also a government agent to “wipe out” what he considered to be pagan practices.

Junipero Serra was a devout catholic, a Franciscan, with a sense of unfailing logic, order, and drive to serve his religion and convert native Indians to what he believed to be the right religion and way of life.

Serra was a man for all seasons, a saint, an ogre, and an agricultural visionary.

This is a compelling narrative and a comprehensive study of the complexities of Serra’s life, and transformative events of his time in the 18th century.

An excellent history book for anyone interested in California and its history.

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