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The Real Band of Brothers: First-hand Accounts from the Last British Survivors of the Spanish Civil War [Hardcover]

Max Arthur
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 April 2009
Personal stories from the soldiers who volunteered to fight for a cause they passionately believed in.
The Spanish Civil War, which raged from 1936-9, was a brutal and intense war which claimed well over 500,000 lives. Rightly predicting that the rise of Fascism in Spain could develop into a more global conflict, almost 2500 British volunteers travelled to Spain under the banner of the International Brigade to fight for the Spanish Republic in an attempt to stem the tide.
Acclaimed oral historian Max Arthur has tracked down the eight survivors of this conflict, and interviewed them for their unique perspective, their memories of their time fighting and the motives which compelled them to fight.
Theirs is a unique story, of men and women volunteering to lay down their lives for a cause, believing passionately that the Spanish Republic's fight was their fight too.
From Union leader to nurse, Egyptologist to IRA activist, these survivors have incredible, compelling and sometimes harrowing tales to tell of their experiences, revealing their ideologies, pride, regrets, and feelings about the legacy of the actions they took.
"For most young people there was a feeling of frustration, but some were determined to do anything that seemed possible, even if it meant death, to try to stop the spread of Fascism. It was real, and it had to be stopped." Jack Jones - Volunteer, 94

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; First Edition edition (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000729509X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007295098
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Seventy years on, these courageous veterans of the International Brigade are still full of passion for their cause and this book vividly captures the idealism and the foresight which motivated them to fight in Spain." - Victoria Hislop

About the Author

Max Arthur is Britain's foremost oral historian, with over 16 books to his name, including the award-winning Forgotten Voices of the Second World War, the bestselling Last Post: the final word from our First World War Soldiers, and Forgotten Voices of the Great War. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Timely 12 Aug 2009
While profiles of those who fought in the Spanish Civil War are not new, this is one of the better ones I have come across from the point of view of the ordinary men and women who travelled to Spain to fight facsism. Unlike Preston's book that looked at high profile individuals eg Franco, Primo Rivera, Negrin, La Passionara etc this is about those who actually fought and survived.
Arthur interviews a wide range of people who made the difficult journey and, in the finest oral historian fashion allows these individuals to do tell their stories. It is timely as well- Bob Doyle and Jack Jones are among those who have been interviewed and who had passed away since then. This stands as a worthy tribute (particularly when taken along side Doyle's own memoirs 'Brigasdista') and the fact that the flame of rebellion and desire for progressive change still burns brightly in those interviewed demonstrates a passion and real interest in the good of humanity that it is hard to find matched today- la lucha continua!
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Continuing his trend of epic and enthralling oral histories, Max Arthur has once again come up trumps with a stunning book exploring the memories of the last few survivors of the British and Irish men and women who volunteered to be part of the International Brigade and travel to Spain in the 1930s to fight Franco. By just letting these veterans speak, Max encourages them to unveil a period of time when causes were worth dying for, and paints a picture of lives defined by the battles against the rising tide of Fascism, while also placing the wider context of the Spanish Civil War firmly into the narrative. To read the memories of these brave men and women embarking on an epic adventure into the unknown is a privilege and this book fulfils the duty we have to record for ever their memories. Thankfully there is no person better or more skilled than Max Arthur at getting veterans to talk and to reveal their memories of not only the crucial battles but also the more mundane aspects of daily life in Spain that is so compelling. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Background to British volunteers in SCW 15 July 2010
By Juanita
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A collection of memories by SCW volunteers. The differences in background are revealing also - but the intense desire of all to help the oppressed of Spain achieve democracy at a time faced with increasing Fascismo in Europe is overwhelming. Not a regret by any. The descriptions by the British nurse of conditions both in the UK prior to her departure, and then the appalling conditions she experienced in the primitive medical units at the front, give much food for thought. These volunteers had never been abroad before, had little or no knowledge of Spain or Spanish, yet they answered a call for help from the people of Spain when France and England stood aloof. We should be proud of their efforts - would we have done the same?
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real band of Brothers 13 May 2009
Excellent read found more about the Spanish civil war British servicepeople than I Knew after several visits to Spain (Museums at Cartegena ) the Headquarters of the Royalists,(i am old enough at 84 years of age to vaguely remember the German Bombers attacking Guernica)
Pete Radford.
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