Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau follow up their exploration of French with The Story of Spanish

By Marian Scott, The Gazette

The Story of Spanish

By Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, St. Martin’s Press, 496 pages, $31.99

Photo: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

Photo: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

Montreal journalists Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau are the husband-and-wife team who authored The Story of French (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), an award-winning biography of the language of Molière. Now they are back with The Story of Spanish, a popular history that recounts how an obscure dialect of Latin spoken in northern Spain crossed the sea to become the world’s third most spoken language.

The couple’s six books also include the best-selling Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, which explains the French penchant for everything from street protests to five-course meals.

As part of their three years of research for The Story of Spanish, Barlow and Nadeau moved with their twin daughters, then 6 years old, to a suburb of Phoenix, Ariz., at the height of debate over a 2010 state law that gave police unprecedented powers to track down and detain undocumented immigrants.

The authors are already planning upcoming books on Arabic and Mandarin, as well as a travel book focusing on French conversation.

The Gazette sat down with Barlow and Nadeau to explore The Story of Spanish. Read the whole article »