The Father of All: The de la Guerra Family, Power, and Patriarchy in Mexican California
Written by: Louise Pubols
Category: Western History
Format: 436 pages, hardcover
Release Date: 2009-11-02
About this Book
Winner, Ray Allen Billington Prize, Organization of American Historians
Winner, William P. Clements Prize, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
This book is part of the Western Histories series, published for the USC-Huntington Institute on California and the West by University of California Press and Huntington Library Press.
Historian Louise Pubols presents a rich and nuanced study of a key family in California's past: the de la Guerras of Santa Barbara. Amid sweeping economic and political changes, including the U.S.-Mexican War, the de la Guerra family continually adapted and reinvented themselves. This absorbing narrative is much more than the history of an elite and powerful family, however. Pubols analyzes the region's trading and provisioning economy and clarifies its volatile political rivalries. By tracing a web of business and family relationships, Pubols shows in practical terms how patriarchy functioned from generation to generation in Spanish and Mexican California.
Read an excerpt from the book
About the Author
Louise Pubols is Chief Curator of the History Department of the Oakland Museum of California. Formerly, she was the historian at the Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West. She has a PhD in U.S. History from the University of Wisconsin.
Praise for The Father of All:
"Pubols's well-written and carefully documented study...belongs on a 'must-read' list for every serious student of Borderlands history."—Cheryl E. Martin, H-Borderlands
“A carefully researched and layered narrative of one of the most powerful families in nineteenth-century Alta California. . . . A fine addition to the libraries of western historians for many years to come.” —Southern California Quarterly
“Elegant prose and excellent scholarship. . . . Pubols’ wonderful book on Spanish and Mexican California. . . . poses a new way to imagine American history.”—American Historical Review
"This deeply researched, engagingly presented, and immensely valuable book demolishes longstanding myths about Mexican California as a colorful, custom-bound world apart. In place of this fantasy past, Louise Pubols offers a history of the de la Guerras that reveals a family and a society caught up in, yet not wholly overcome by, the global economic and political developments of the first half of the nineteenth century."—Stephen Aron, Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center
"Pubols shoves aside any lingering notions of Mexican California as a backward place, waiting for Anglo-Americans to bring it into modernity. Instead, we see the workings of the colonial economy and the political rivalries and alliances that sustained the Mexican community. Most importantly, Pubols reveals the ways in which patriarchy functioned, adapted, and persisted, and how individual women and men lived within it. Pubols makes this rich story possible by the breadth and depth of her research and the care she takes in writing a narrative that carefully guides the reader through this world. Of the ninety-nine books submitted to the Billington Prize Committee, Pubols’s stood out for its innovation, clarity, and significance to the field of frontier history, as well as to early American history, Latin American history, and women’s and gender history."—Billington Prize Committee
"The Father of All combines first-rate historical analysis with in-depth archival research. Don José de la Guerra and his extended family are fascinating historical personages, and their encounters with other Californio elites provide a compelling story, but Pubols takes us to a higher level of understanding by demonstrating the crucial role of extended family ties in the economic and political history of California during the Mexican Period. Pubols provides a convincing argument that family ties kept the prevalent political unrest from breaking out into more violent civil conflict."—Dr. Jarrell C. Jackman, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation