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The History of El Camino Real
by Stephen H. Provost
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
A fun-filled look at the history and attractions of California’s legendary Highway 101.
Now the road has the utilitarian designation of U.S. Route 101, but originally it had a name of romance and mystery—El Camino Real, or the King’s Highway, built on the trail pioneered by the Spanish friars and marked by mission bells on the roadside. Illustrated throughout with historic photographs, Highway 101: The History of El Camino Real tells the picturesque story of this great highway and the restaurants, motels, gas stations, and roadside attractions that made it memorable to generations of travelers.
From Disneyland to the historic Madonna Inn to the Avenue of the Giants, Highway 101 catalogs the great landmarks along the road, plus the fascinating personalities, from Dorothea Lange to Jelly Roll Morton to Cecil B. DeMille, whose lives intersected with the history of the route.
A colorful history of Americana, commerce, travel, and fun, Highway 101 captures the magic of the open road.
About the Author: Stephen H. Provost is an author and journalist who has worked as an editor, columnist, and reporter at newspapers throughout California. His previous books include Highway 99: The History of California’s Main Street; Fresno Growing Up: A City Comes of Age 1945-1985; and the fantasy novels Memortality and Paralucidity.
$20.95 US • Trade Paperback • 8½” x 10″ • 270 pages
The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions
A Cross of Thorns reexamines a chapter of California history that has been largely forgotten—the enslavement of California’s Indian population by Spanish missionaries from 1769 to 1821. California’s Spanish missions are one of the state’s major tourist attractions, where visitors are told that peaceful cultural exchange occurred between Franciscan friars and California Indians.
In schools across the state, as required by the California State Board of Education, fourth graders are taught that life between the friars and the Indians was based on peace and mutual respect. Both tourists and schoolchildren are being deliberately misled—in truth, the missions were places of enslavement and deliberate cruelty.
A Cross of Thorns challenges this mythologized history and presents the facts of the Spanish occupation of California, describing the dark and cruel reality of Mission life. Beginning in 1769, California Indians were enticed into the missions, where they and their descendents were imprisoned for 60 years of forced labor and daily beatings.
The chilling depictions of colonial cruelty in A Cross of Thorns are based on little known church and Spanish government archives and letters written by the founder of California’s mission, Friar Junipero Serra (who advocated the whipping of Mission Indians as a standard policy), and published first-hand accounts of 18th and 19th century travelers.
Tracing the history of Spanish colonization in California from its origins in Spain’s 18th century economic crisis to the legacy of racism and brutality that continues today, A Cross of Thorns is one of the most thought-provoking books ever written on California history.