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An introduction to the history of the civil war in spain

  1. I may be using loose-tongued, unacademic language you won't find in this book, but there is little mistaking where the author's sympathies lie.
  2. Many forces, both internal and external, were crucial to how events panned out. I was also entirely unaware of the significant role played by Republican Civil War veterans in the French Resistance during the Second World War, and their imprisonment in concentration camps.
  3. However, they shared a dislike of the liberal middle classes and regional nationalisms. The Government had the support of all the Left-wing political parties.
  4. It seems frankly amazing that the Republicans held on as long as they did [see comments below], not helped by farcical situations such as their limited purchasing power bringing shipments of obsolete munitions with incomprehensible instructions in Polish.

They really don't make 'em like that any more: And it is mostly chaps, to an extent it wouldn't be in a documentary made I wasn't even aware of the gaping crevasse in my knowledge about the Spanish Civil War until I started reading this small book, and watching this landmark early-80s Granada documentary series about it.

And it is mostly chaps, to an extent it wouldn't be in a documentary made now. Most of what I previously knew about the conflict came from what Spanish au-pairs told me as a primary school kid they themselves having been small children when Franco diedand from As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and Hons and Rebels.

I was a little shocked by the extent of my ignorance - but perhaps it also reflects the way that the Spanish Civil War, once a favourite cool history topic for young people on the left way less risky to read about it and respectfully remember fallen comrades than for those forebears who went to fight in the International Brigades just wasn't as buzzy for personal reading or formal study whilst I was a student, during the West's quiescent, centrist lull between the falls of the Berlin Wall and the Twin Towers.

The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction

Hugh Thomas' classic The Spanish Civil War is apparently still considered the definitive general history, and according to a couple of PhD students posting online to be notably even handed in its approach. But it's also an 1100-page monster. The main theme of Graham's Very Short Introduction is the absolutely fucking staggering callous neglect of the Spanish Republicans by what would in a few years' time be the Western Allies, hiding behind a gentlemen's agreement, whilst in practice Hitler and Mussolini generously aided the fascist rebels at every turn the Republicans got some bits and pieces from Stalin, but nothing like equivalent firepower.

I felt outraged not only by not having known before about this disgraceful bit of history, but somehow by the events themselves, to an extent I've conditioned myself to feel only rarely about current news, and despite the obvious context of Chamberlain's appeasement of Nazi Germany. Even France, anxious in theory not to be surrounded on ever more sides by fascist governments, did little more than turn a blind eye to smugglers for a short while. I may be using loose-tongued, unacademic language you won't find in this book, but there is little mistaking where the author's sympathies lie.

It seems frankly amazing that the Republicans held on as long as they did [see comments below], not helped by farcical situations such as their limited purchasing power bringing shipments of obsolete munitions with incomprehensible instructions in Polish.

I was also entirely unaware of the significant role played by Republican Civil War veterans in the French Resistance during the Second World War, and their imprisonment in concentration camps.

The Francoist state, once established, is shown to have been no less repressive than Soviet regimes especially in its earlier years and to have employed similar methods, despite its near polar-opposite esteem for the Church and hereditary aristocracy and denigration of the urban proletariat.

  1. And it is mostly chaps, to an extent it wouldn't be in a documentary made I wasn't even aware of the gaping crevasse in my knowledge about the Spanish Civil War until I started reading this small book, and watching this landmark early-80s Granada documentary series about it. Its propagandist view of Spanish history as having 'started' in the 15th century with the completion of the Catholic Reconquista may have even wormed its way into my old school curriculum in a way I was not previously aware of, as I've long carried an impression of it as a dividing line not dissimilar to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.
  2. The final chapter looks at the legacy of the war and Francoism in modern democratic Spain. And it is mostly chaps, to an extent it wouldn't be in a documentary made now.
  3. If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.
  4. There appears to be good, clear differentiation here between the factions on the Republican side during the war.
  5. Even France, anxious in theory not to be surrounded on ever more sides by fascist governments, did little more than turn a blind eye to smugglers for a short while. The Insurgents who soon became known as the Nationalists had the support of the Army of Africa which contained the most battle-hardened units in the Spanish Army , the remainder of the Peninsular Army, Guardia Civil, Carabineros, and Asaltos, and the Right-wing and Traditionalist Political parties.

However, they shared a dislike of the liberal middle classes and regional nationalisms. And perhaps there are a few parallels with modern China in its embrace of commercialism from the 1960s onwards. Its propagandist view of Spanish history as having 'started' in the 15th century with the completion of the Catholic Reconquista may have even wormed its way into my old school curriculum in a way I was not previously aware of, as I've long carried an impression of it as a dividing line not dissimilar to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

The above may be overly impressionistic, but I also don't want to feel compelled every time to write the sort of very long, time-consuming review which, in giving a blow-by-blow account of a non-fiction work and its subject, almost obviates the book itself.

There appears to be good, clear differentiation here between the factions on the Republican side during the war: To avoid confusion, I think I got that last bit about the peasantry from something commentating on a Lorca play; it's not a phrase Graham uses. As with much writing about the politics of the 1930s, aspects of the years leading up to the war seem worryingly resonant these days; Graham's description, near the end, of the SCW as a 'culture war' only adds to this.

In the book there is more mention of notable women, and issues affecting women, than I would have expected from a general short history of a war.

It packs plenty of social and cultural history in alongside a chronological narrative of the military conflict, the related international politics, and then more briefly, the tenor of life under Franco. The final chapter looks at the legacy of the war and Francoism in modern democratic Spain: I feel like giving five stars for the book's impressive range and for its sustained interest, but don't think I'm currently in a position to do so, having read little else about the Spanish Civil War to compare.