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Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country's Hidden Past [Paperback]

Giles Tremlett
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 April 2012

The Spanish are reputed to be amongst Europe's most voluble people. So why have they kept silent about the terrors of the Spanish Civil War and the rule of dictator Generalísimo Francisco Franco?

The appearance - sixty years after that war ended - of mass graves containing victims of Franco's death squads has finally broken what Spaniards call 'the pact of forgetting'. At this charged moment, Giles Tremlett embarked on a journey around Spain - and through Spanish history.

Tremlett's journey was also an attempt to make sense of his personal experience of the Spanish. Why do they dislike authority figures, but are cowed by a doctor's white coat? How had women embraced feminism without men noticing? What binds gypsies, jails and flamenco? Why do the Spanish go to plastic surgeons, donate their organs, visit brothels or take cocaine more than other Europeans?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Thus edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571279392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571279395
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Giles Tremlett is the Guardian's Madrid correspondent. He has lived in, and written extensively about, Spain almost continuously since graduating from Oxford University twenty years ago.

His first book was GHOSTS OF SPAIN: Travels Through a Country's Hidden Past.

Product Description


'Tremlett's work will bring many who think we know Spain to confront what we have hesitated to acknowledge even to ourselves.' -- Matthew Parris

'Tremlett writes with humour, modesty and a great affection for his subject' -- Miranda France, Daily Telegraph

'A transfixing, elegantly written account of Spain today.' --Siobhan Murphy, Metro

'A feast of a book.' Irish Times

'Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Spain.' --Sarah Williams, BBC History Magazine

Book Description

A newly revised and updated edition of Guardian journalist Giles Tremlett's journey through contemporary Spain examining the darker sides of it's history.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for the expats 12 Jun 2007
This was the book I had been looking for for a long time; something that would give me an insight into what makes the modern spain and the spaniard 'tick'. I knew a little about recent spanish history but didn't want to delve headlong into book after book about the moors, the civil war, franco etc. This book provides a perfect summarisation of all of these and a whole lot more. An incredible amount has happened to Spain in recent times and the future promises a lot more. This book will hopefully provide a useful insight into where Spain has come from and where its heading in the future. Not a book that can be rushed through. Take your time and digest as one would with a good meal.
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty mix of the personal and the historical 18 Mar 2006
Tremlett is a witty, trenchant and astute observer of modern Spain. Being an outsider will forever condemn him in the eyes of Spaniards wishing their past would go quietly into the night; and yet it is just his outsider status that allows him to couple the telling quote with the ascerbic-yet-loving anecdote. His chapter on flamenco is an outsider's paean to his adopted country. The chapter on Benidorm combines high-comedy, bathos and despair in equal measure. His writing is at its best when his natural wit and humour come to the fore, traits which lift this book well-above the usual 'foreign correspondent does foreign country' diatribe. Highly recommended.
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99 of 110 people found the following review helpful
This book is a balance between an accurately researched and passionately personal account of Spain past and present. Having lived in Spain for a short while - I felt it captured precisely the atmosphere of this fascinating and multi-levelled culture which eludes so many of us. Tremlett has obviously met this Herculean task of unveiling a complicated history and multi-facetted culture with great sensitivity and compassion. He covers complicated and sensitive isues such as the Franco era, ETA and Basque culture and history aswell as flamenco and the history of tourism and the Spaniard's relation to all these issues today.
The author's compassion for the Spaniards and their past is offset by the precision of the journalist's eye for the politically explosive and important issues which have come into the public eye recently. He delves deeply with great passion and understanding into a culture he has adopted as his own but to which he will never belong. At times I felt I was reading a scintillating novel and at others I was reading a political account. The author manages to synthesise these beautifully! If you have ever been to Spain, want to go to Spain or are just interested in the country, read this book!
It will deepen your compassion and expand your understanding of a culture that has had so many ties with our own over the years.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Las Espanas 16 Sep 2006
Having spent a week travelling around the north west coast of Spain I found this book to be the perfect companion. The Spain of popular imagination is highly seductive to the English but Tremlett reveals a country that is culturally and politically more like a federation. It is a vast country by European standards and the author takes us from the verdant and windswept Galicia to the arid plains of Castilla-Leon to the sun drenched paradise of Seville. Along the way, he encounters a people who suffered the torment of losing an empire, a civil war and lived under a dictatorship until a little more than a generation ago. The book's strength lies in Tremlett's hybrid status - he is an Anglosaxon down to his bones but is obviously an Hispanophile who has found a new identity in a country he loves. This coupled with his journalistic eye results in the first book since John Hooper's The Spaniards to really try to get under the skin of a country that fascinates, confuses and irritates in equal measures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts of Spain 31 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is so informative about the Spanish psyche and the various disparate groups that make up Spain. The section on the Spanish Civil War is so topical and relevant as right now the Spanish are in the process of digging up their war graves and re-claiming the bodies of their loved ones that were murdered, after a long era of purposeful forgetting about the horrors of that period. If you want to understand the Spanish and what makes them tick, this is the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern Spain mostly explained 10 April 2006
An indispensable introduction to the complex politics and fast-shifting culture of Spain over the last thirty years, Ghosts of Spain presents an engaging and highly readable account of the country's remarkable transition from stagnant authoritarianism to vigorous democracy. The opening chapters on the partly hidden legacy of the Civil War and Francoism are quite outstanding as Tremlett gives reasons for Spain's extraordinary lack of either reconciliation or recrimination. Recent scandals and the often-related construction and tourist booms are smartly handled and the detour to the heart of flamenco is genuinely moving. The author is much less sure-footed on the chapters on Basque and Catalan nationalism, revealing an unfortunate and disappointingly clichéd Madrid metropolitan bias. Although the book also suffers from what seems to have been hasty editing, the recompense is Tremlett's a fine journalistic sensitivity for place and people and a genuine love for his subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Easy reading, entertaining and informative.
Published 9 days ago by Charu Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories of the Spanish Civil war
Not a ghost and ghoul book rather a series of interviews about those engaged in the Spanish Civil war. Read more
Published 27 days ago by D M Bullick
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, subtle and insightful
This is an account of significant characteristics of Spain and the 'Spanish Mind' from a contemporary historical point of view. Provokes thought. Provides delights. Serious fun.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. N. G. AUSTIN
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know more about Spain than where the all day breakfasts...
An excellent history of Spain and how its history impacts upon its present and I suspect its future, in both attitudes and landscape.
Published 1 month ago by disappointed
5.0 out of 5 stars Al loro con este libro!-Check it out!
My British friend, Steve (aka Esteban), a Spain 'aficcionado', suggested this book to me a while ago. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Blueplier
5.0 out of 5 stars Non Fiction that read as Fiction
This was a great book to explain why the Spanish are as they are. Whilst written as non-fiction, Tremlett's style is so readable and easy. I could not put the book down. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. O'Donnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
An excellent book that you just keep wanting to read. The interconnecting themes the author used to explain both Spain's past and present in my view was masterful. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nico
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight to Spain
Amazon have a habit of dumping reviews from different versions into others. To be clear this review is for the 2007 Paperback and sections may differ in newer books... Read more
Published 6 months ago by SBno1
5.0 out of 5 stars Imersed in Spanish history
I have never been to Spain but this book is still fascinating and gives a great overview of the spanish civil war and i now want to know more. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. K. L. Burchill
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stories, good reading
The first few chapters on the legacy of Franco are a bit dense (though interesting), but after that the book ranges widely and entertainingly over different aspects of Spanish life... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. B. D. Cobley
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