I expect to learn a great deal reading this month’s Wanderlust Book Club selection. We select books about travel, far off places, or a journey. This book, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather falls into the category of “a journey” as the two priests travel from Sandusky, Ohio to New Mexico in the late 1800’s. This journey takes over a year for the men to complete and they travel across the new land by train, riverboat and then overland.
I was not raised in the Western United States, so my school history teaching did not include much about the Mexican-American War (which took place between 1846 to 1848)**. I am eager to hear more about this part of history and the fall-out of the conflict. I am also not Catholic and know very little about the Catholic faith, except what I have gathered from sporadic readings and of course TV and film. New Mexico is not a place I have spent much time. I have traveled through and paused occasionally, but I know very little about it. Maybe because of these things I would not normally choose to read this book. It was a recommendation from a friend and book club member and that is one of the beautiful things about a book club; reading other people’s book choices. It expands my views, my knowledge, my outlook and my awareness of the world.
Although this is a fictional work, it is loosely based on the lives of the late 19th century, Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, . It also includes historical references to the the story of the Our Lady of Guadeloupe, a discussion of the Long Walk of the Navajo and the murder of an oppressive Spanish priest at Acoma Pueblo.
** side note
I have found it interesting how much American History differs from state-to-state and region-to-region. I am sure the Mexican-American War was mention in my elementary and high-school education. My observation, however, is how much more in depth certain topics are taught based on the region of the country you live. Moving to California as a young adult, I had no idea who Cesar Chavez was and it wasn’t until my kids made to elementary school here in California that I learned the history and importance of the California Missions to the settlement of California. TRAVEL IS EDUCATION!