Peter Stone’s “The Canary Islands: A Cultural History”

I’ve spent the last few days reading a book about Tenerife – actually about the Canaries – but not just another book about them. Peter Stone’s The Canary Islands: A Cultural History is informed, intelligent, extensive, comprehensive … and very very interesting.

It ranges from the birth of the islands themselves, through the Guanches and their origins, to the Spanish conquest and more recent times, covering the islands’ geography, famous people, tourism in all its various forms at different times (from early naturalism and science to the later health tourism and hedonism), mass emigration to the Americas, the Civil War and Franco, the new democracy, Carnaval, architecture, art (from cave art through neo-Guanche revivalism to Manrique), trade, wine (famous as far back as Shakespeare’s time), volcanos and eruptions, and how the Canaries have been described and discussed since they were first clearly identified in writing by the Roman Pliny the Elder in 79AD.

This is the latest of several travel books that Peter Stone has written about Spain, and his style is that of the seasoned writer. It’s an easy going read, and a fascinating one, and it’s one that’s hard to put down … and at the end of it, you know a deal more than you thought you could ever know about these islands. I would say that if you’re thinking of reading any book about the Canaries, let it be this one.

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