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Santa Barbara Independent’s Q&A with Robert M. Senkewicz, co-author of “Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary”.

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Read more about the book.


There are so many books out on Serra. Why another one? What did you think you might find out that would be different? Rose Marie Beebe and I were doing some work on early California, and the missions always kept coming up. We’d consult the translations out there of Serra’s letters, and they were really, really stiff. So we began to wonder, “Serra can’t be that stiff.” We started wondering what a different translation of Serra’s letters would look like. That was the main thing. A lot of stuff on Serra, he’s presented in one extreme or the other: selfless, magnanimous saint or genocidal-maniac-type person. We thought let’s try to avoid the extremes and take him on his own terms and see where that leads us. That turned out to be something that hadn’t been done about Serra.

How did your translation differ than what had been done before? How does Serra shine through the ages in a different way? What happens is his emotions tend to come out more openly in the translation that Rose Marie did. He’s an administrator, so he writes a lot of boring bureaucratic stuff. Unfortunately, that tone in previous translations seeps into letters that are personal. We tried to separate those so when he’s writing another missionary or the governor, his emotions come out. This allows us to see him as a much more complicated, complex kind of figure.

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Junipero Serra: The Man Behind the Canonization Controversy


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On July 24, Professor Beebe and Professor Senkewicz will speak about their just-completed book, “Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary” at Santa Clara University. Their work is an attempt to get behind the controversy over the canonization of Serra and to illuminate the man himself. While the work of Beebe and Senkewicz is historical and does not take a position on the canonization, what they have to say is sure to assist both those who believe Serra should be canonized as an intrepid evangelizer of the New World and those who believe that Serra was a central figure in the destruction of the Native American way of life and thus is unworthy of the honor of sainthood. The canonization is scheduled to take place during the visit of Pope Francis to Washington, D.C., this September.

Event information:

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“Colorado: A Historical Atlas” is now available!


Chock-full of the best and latest information on Colorado, this new edition features thirty new chapters, updated text, more than 100 color maps and 100 color photos, and a best-of listing of Colorado authors and books, as well as a guide to hundreds of tourist attractions.

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Dwayne Mack, author of “Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest,” talks about his new book.

Dwayne MackIn 1981, decades before mainstream America elected Barack Obama, James Chase became the first African American mayor of Spokane, Washington, with the overwhelming support of a majority-white electorate. Chase’s win failed to capture the attention of historians—as had the century-long evolution of the black community in Spokane. In Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest, Dwayne A. Mack corrects this oversight—and recovers a crucial chapter in the history of race relations and civil rights in America. Read more about the book…


Courtesy of  Berea College Magizine.


“A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps”, by Barbara Rylko-Bauer is the gold medalist in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards biography category!

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Buy the Book


“Compelling. Riveting. Exquisite. Barbara Rylko-Bauer brings an anthropologist’s mind, eye, heart, and ear to the untold story of a young Polish physician ensnared as subject and accessory to the Nazi project of slave labor and mass murder. In no uncertain terms, A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps reaffirms the dignity of survival, resilience, and solidarity in the face of human suffering. The book sets a high bar for the new genre of intimate ethnography.”—Gelya Frank, author of Venus on Wheels: Two Decades of Dialogue on Disability, Biography, and Being Female in America

“Barbara Rylko-Bauer is a patient and painstaking documentarian and a superb writer with a knack for revealing how forces and events beyond the control or the ready understanding of her protagonists came to affect even their most intimate thoughts and daily lives, and to shape their recollections. Through a mother and daughter’s incandescent collaboration, the rough stone of memory is tumbled and polished, emerging as a fiery gem.”—Paul Farmer, author of Haiti after the Earthquake and To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation

“A necessary and important book about a time period already well described but not from this point of view. Rylko-Bauer adds a poignant and often moving annex to Holocaust literature without centering her narrative on that cataclysm. Her mother’s story, while only a sliver of it, encompasses enough horror to give meaning to the much more pervasive devastation of the Jewish community.”—Gretchen Schafft, author of From Racism to Genocide: Anthropology in the Third Reich

GoldAbout the IPPYs

The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first awards program open exclusively to independents, over 3,000 “IPPYs” have been awarded to authors and publishers around the world.

Independent publishers are extremely diverse, in both style and geography. This year’s IPPY medalists represent 45 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, six Canadian provinces, and ten countries overseas: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.