Books by Diane MacMillan

Released: July 8, 1996

The first in a series about the roles played by Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans in the development and demise of 21 California missions set up by the Franciscans along the California coast in the 1700s. This installment, focusing on the San Gabriel Arc†ngel, San Fernando Rey de Espa§a, and San Buenaventura missions in the Los Angeles area, gives a balanced account of their histories. MacMillan does not portray the missionaries as kind, benevolent caretakers of the Indians and their land, but offers an in-depth examination of the motives of Franciscans and Spaniards to subjugate native populations, decimate their numbers, and destroy their culture in the name of developing California. The missionaries forced the Indians off their land and into virtual slavery, beating them if they tried to return to their villages. MacMillan bends over backward to be objective but occasionally comes off as irresolute about truly outrageous events. Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions from the statistics: The Indian population in California numbered 340,000 when the missionaries arrived, and, after 70 years of occupation, only 100,000 remained. Those facts render this look at a shameful era in California's history a leap above most on the subject. (full-color and b&w maps, engravings, photos, maps, charts, diagrams, timeline, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >