Reviewed by William E. Weeks, of the San Diego State University History Department.
The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide, edited by Rupert Costo and Jeannette Henry Costo, examines the consequences of and the controversy concerning the mission system. This book makes no pretense of scholarly “objectivity” -i.e., detachment from its subject. Its editors are long-time Indian rights activists with a passionate interest in how the mission system is viewed historically. The book attempts to document the catastrophic effects of the mission system on the California Indians and by doing so to discredit the efforts to elevate Junipero Serra, founder of the missions, to sainthood.
The Missions of California consists of three main parts: essays on various aspects of the mission system, Indian testimony concerning the mission period, and a transcript of the “Serra Report,” interviews with eight scholars conducted in 1985 by the Catholic Diocese of Monterey that were designed to answer criticisms of Serra and his work.