A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Craven Street Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.6 inches | 0.87 pounds

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About the Author

Elias Castillo is a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and the winner of thirteen journalism awards. Born in Mexicali, Baja California, Castillo holds two degrees from San Jose State University and is a former reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and the Associated Press.


A scholarly magnum opus ... a highly readable historical work, filled with battle stories and previously unchronicled narrative. --Dan Pulcrano, Metro Silicon Valley
Adds immeasurably to our understanding of a complicated and contested chapter of California's history ... fascinating in its detailed accessibility. --Jim Van Buskirk, San Francisco Examiner
"A Cross of Thorns" pulls back the veil of lies, deceit, and cover-ups that has been perpetuated for nearly two hundred years. --Valentin Lopez, chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Costanoan/Ohlone Indians
An extraordinary work of historical scholarship and a compelling read from beginning to end. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "A Cross of Thorns" is an essential and highly recommended addition to academic library Native American reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. --Paul T. Vogel, MBR Bookwatch
Elias Castillo's "Cross of Thorns" throws the light of truth on a shamefully dark chapter in American history -- the brutal treatment of Native Americans subjugated and forced into slave labor conditions for the prosperity of the California missions. --Ron Miller, former television critic for the San Jose Mercury News, author of "Mystery! A Celebration," and co-author of "Masterpiece Theatre"
"A Cross of Thorns" defies ... myth and presents the real facts of the Spanish occupation of California and their cruelty to the Indians ...a historical survey that considers the truth of matters, what really happened, and how we come to have the different accounting of events today. No California history holding should be without this! --California Bookwatch
Serra's place in the Capitol comes under some dispute in "A Cross of Thorns," in which journalist Elias Castillo unearths evidence in Serra's own time describing the nightmarish reality of the missions." John Gutman, Wild West Magazine
When one gazes upon the beautiful, Spanish-style, red-tiled roofs of the Missions of California, they are unaware, as I once was, of what can be found on the underside of those tiles. Many years ago, I saw the imprints from the skin of Indian slaves, who bent and shaped those tiles over their own thighs in the hot California sun. Mr. Castillo tells a story of which far too many people are simply not aware, the enslavement of California Indians under the mission system. While many Americans know of the Trail of Tears and other Indian atrocities, most do not know of the atrocities perpetrated on Indian people in California. "A Cross of Thorns" sheds light on this period in history. --Ben Nighthorse-Campbell, U.S. Senator, retired
"A Cross of Thorns" is a substantial and needed contribution to California historical journalism revealing the backstory of the California Mission Indians and their suffering. --William Briggs, Ed.D., Fullerton State University
The missions and their treatment of Indians in early California deserves the critical eye that "A Cross of Thorns" brings in its exploration of the reality of a romanticized subject. --Dan Bauer, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, Lafayette College
Veteran journalist Elias Castillo has written a searing examination of the brutality and exploitation of the California mission system. "A Cross of Thorns" is brave, unsparing and ambitious, a tour de force that is one of the most significant contributions to this important topic. --Jon Talton, author of the David Mapstone Mysteries, the Cincinnati Casebooks and the thriller "Deadline Man"
The saga of unholy injustice detailed in "A Cross of Thorns" left me feeling kicked in the gut, with my sense of moral outrage boiling over. Yet it is presented in subdued and sober terms, with fact after fact and story after story, building a sure case against the canonizing of Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra. Elias Castillo offers us a different reading of history and Spanish imperialism and the religious sins that accompanied it. --Matthew Fox