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The Spanish Civil War: 1936-1939 (Essential Histories series Book 37) [Kindle Edition]

Frances Lannon
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 was of enormous international as well as national significance. In this gripping volume, Frances Lannon explains how this internal conflict between democracy and its enemies escalated to involve Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union.

We go behind the scenes to find out the true story of the bitter fighting within the sides, not just between them. The experiences of the men and women caught up in the fighting are highlighted. For them, and for a world on the brink of the Second World War, the stakes were agonisingly high.

The Osprey Guide To... series is a reworking of the popular Essential Histories series, now available as non-illustrated eBooks at a fantastic low price.

The maps and text remain the same, giving a strong historical overview of some of the most important conflicts and theatres of war from the ancient world through to modern times.

Product Description


The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 was of enormous international as well as national significance. In this gripping volume, Frances Lannon explains how this internal conflict saw the fight between democracy and communism played out on a small scale, only to be fought out again in the Second World War.

About the Author

Frances Lannon is Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She has published extensively on the cultural and political origins and significance of the Spanish Civil War, including 'Privilege, Persecution and Prophecy: The Catholic Church in Spain 1875-1975' (1987), and recent articles on women in the Civil War.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11131 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (4 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,875 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for historical revision 28 Jan. 2005
Although I shall confess I have not read this book from cover-to-cover, I can say that I have found it extreamly useful. I initially bought the book to help with my History G.C.S.E. exam, and I purchased it with no prior knowledge to what it really contained.
I knew that with all my revision I would not have time to read hundreds of pages on a subject I only need to touch upon lightly, and so I can honestly admit I bought the book primarily for its length. Therefore, I was extreamly happy upon the books arrival when I found out not only was the layout reader-freindly, but the pictures and sources were fantastically helpful.
This is definately a book to read if you're looking for subject material or even if you enjoy a bit of light historical reading. I was certainly suprised!
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Culture War 4 Jun. 2008
By Lance Grundy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book is an excellent introduction to this complicated culture war in which the defenders of property, religion and tradition took up arms against a Republican government committed to social reform, devolution and secularisation.

In the early 1930s the Republican government had begun with modest reforms aimed at improving the lot of the country's poor. However, even as early as 1931, the Constituent Assembly approved an amended draft that, while creating a democratic, secular system, also introduced measures which many Spanish people thought an irreligious assault on Spanish tradition. It legalised divorce, permitted the state to expropriate private property for reasons of broader social utility, introduced free, obligatory, secular education for all, dissolved the Jesuits and banned religious communities of nuns, priests and brothers from teaching even in private schools [the unamended draft would have dissolved all religious orders outright]. Many conservatives, including very modest property owners as well as the wealthy, feared that once the balance began to shift so far leftwards revolutionary claims for redistribution of wealth would overwhelm them.

As the decade progressed the Republican government - racked by internecine conflicts between socialists, anarchists and communists, began to lose control. Churches and convents were burned and in July 1936 a former Finance Minister was arrested by uniformed police officers, driven away in a police car and shot. His body was left in the public morgue. The killing of a major political leader while in the custody of law enforcement officers was too much for Spanish conservatives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spanish Civil War 14 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read a few books about wars in general. I found the book informative but it did not go into great detail about the actual battles. Possibly boring from my point of view but still interesting.
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1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish book 7 Feb. 2010
By Chris
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gave up trying to read this. The author seems to delight in finding long complicated words when shorter simpler ones would do. Would not recommend it to anyone without a degree in gobbledegook
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Primer on the Spanish Civil War 23 Mar. 2003
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since the war ended in 1939, the Spanish Civil War has been obscured by romantic mythology created by foreign writers like Ernest Hemmingway and subsequent historians, who have tended to portray this conflict as, "the first great, heroic confrontation between fascism and democracy." Frances Lannon, an Oxford history professor, notes that in this traditional interpretation, "the Second Republic remains a great cause that was worth dying for." Lannon eschews this traditional depiction of the conflict in simplistic black and white terms, a fight between fascists and communists for the soul of Spain, and views the war in much more complex terms. Lannon's account is well written and rich in detail; her particular areas of interest are the role of women in both sides of the war and the role of the Catholic Church in the conflict. Overall, Lannon's book is an excellent primer on the war as well as representing a far more balanced and objective account than has come from other quarters.
The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 begins with short sections on the background to the war. These sections are interesting because they demonstrate that both sides had compelling reasons to resort to violence. While the Republicans (encompassing such diverse groups as urban trade unionists, rural peasants, intellectuals, communists and anarchists) viewed the Church, monarchists and the military as obstacles to the development of more liberalized conditions in Spain, the Nationalists fought to defend the traditional order from what they viewed as the imposition of alien cultural values. Due to the period of violence and disorder that preceded the outbreak of civil war, Lannon notes that, "many ordinary Catholics concluded that the new state would not respect their religion or protect property." Rather than the simplistic political depiction of democracy versus fascist, Lannon shows that the conflict had a strong religious dimension, and thus the conflict also could be depicted as Catholics versus atheists. Indeed, once the civil war started, Lannon notes that, "Catholicism went underground in Republican Spain, as churches burned and religious images were destroyed."
Lannon's section on the warring sides is a bit short at three pages, but she gets the relative balance of the two forces. Her section on the fighting is 32 pages long and again, gets the main points, but without embellishment. At heart, this is more of a social history of a civil war, rather than a purely military history, and some readers may be disappointed by the short shrift given to topics like the German Condor Legion or the International Brigades. The text is complemented by nine maps: Spain in 1936, the first defense of Madrid, the route of the African army in 1936, fighting around Madrid in 1936-1937, the Battle for Madrid in November 1936, the fall of Malaga, the war in Vizcaya, the Battle of the Ebro, and Spain in July 1938. Lannon clearly likes the colorful propaganda posters produced by both sides during the war and includes eight full-page examples(almost 10% of the volume); a few more actual photos of the war might have been a better choice.
Some readers may feel that Lannon goes easy on the nature of the Nationalists, given the terror bombing of Basque villages like Guernica and the subsequent repression under Franco's regime. In fact, something of a "Lost Cause" mythology has developed around the Republican cause, ascribing all sorts of democratic and liberal aspirations that were not evident in the policies of the Republicans. Indeed, reading Lannon, most readers will feel more revulsion at reading about the abuses of the Republicans, who murdered over 2,000 people (including 68 monks) in Madrid in November 1936. Lannon notes that, "one side protected religion, the other [the Republicans] attacked it and drove it underground. Churches were destroyed, religious symbols and statutes defaced and smashed." Not only were church marriages outlawed under the Republic but Lannon notes extreme examples where one witness saw, "the exhumed bodies of nuns in their shrouds that the revolutionaries had torn out of their tombs and displayed in the street." Was this a regime worth dying for? Lannon does note the repressive nature of the Franco regime, particularly in its hour of victory, when no effort was made at reconciliation with the defeated Republicans. About 50,000 people lost their lives in post-war executions and tens of thousands spent years languishing in prison. There is no doubt that both sides fought a brutal war of extermination against the other, but Lannon's account offers the possibility of distinguishing between the lesser of two evils. Despite an authoritarian structure, Lannon notes that Franco's Spain "was still a dictatorship, but its economy and society had modernized" by the 1970s. Lannon calls the rapid dismantlement of Franco's regime after his death in 1975, "one of the most successful transitions from dictatorship to democracy of the late 20th Century."
Another theme that Lannon touches upon is the failure of international diplomacy. The British and French pushed the Non-Intervention Agreement in August 1936, by which signatories promised not to ship arms to Spain. Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union signed the agreement and then promptly violated it. However the failure of the Anglo-French to inhibit German intervention in Spain, coupled with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, helped to instill more resolve to oppose German aggression in Eastern Europe.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basic Overview 1 April 2008
By James D. Crabtree - Published on
For a slim volume this book packs a lot of information. The Spanish Civil War is often called a prelude of World War II but in calling it that you really do it a disservice. The Spanish Civil War was a unique conflict in its own right, with many aspects, such as the International Brigades and the Condor Legion, which caused the war to have an impact far outside Spain's borders. This book gives a fairly nonpartisan assessment of the conflict, a treatment which is rare given the gut reactions many have towards the conflict based upon fascist and communist roles there. The photographs which illustrate are excellent as well but not overdoen, which explains how so much info got into such a small book.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, effective review of Civil War 15 Aug. 2004
By Jack Eutaw - Published on
This is a good book for who seek a brief introduction to the Spanish Civil War, but don't have time to wade through a 700-page history.

Lannon handles this divisive war evenhandedly. She points out that both sides were somewhat co-opted by the movements of international communism and fascism and by the end of war, some no longer knew for what cause they were fighting.

This book is subtitled, "1936-1939." Still, I wish Lannon had spent more time on the before and after of the war, rather than concentrating so much on the fighting.

The book is well illustrated and designed, with posters, photos and maps on many pages.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introduction in 96 pages 17 Nov. 2009
By Yoda - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This short 96 page book (about half of which are illustrations) provides an excellent introduction to the subject for those who desire a basic introduction to the subject in only an hour to an hour and a half of reading.

The book starts out with the brief social and political background as to why the Left and Right clashed in Spain and what visions each side had for the country. Then it discusses the fighting amongst each side as well as the fighting within each side (especially within the Left) along with the importance of foreign support of each side, a factor that played a very important if not determining role in the war. The book covers, but only in a very passing manner, the German, Soviet and Italian support provided to the Left and Right. One weakness of the book is its lack of discussion regarding why Britain and France played the "neutral" role they did (along with the League of Nations) despite the fact that it was self-evident to both that Germany and Italy were supporting the Nationalists. It should have been clear (and probably was) that the consequence of a Nationalist victory would be an additional enemy in their flanks. Yet they did nothing to support the Republic. The book is also a little weak regarding the Republic's diplomatic attempts to gain French and British support and its initial hesitation to obtain Soviet weapons and support and becomming more and more dependent on the Soviet Union as their cause went downhill.

The book concludes by summing up the damage caused by the war in terms of causalties, economic damage and the Nationalist "purges" after the war as well as the "reforms" brought about by the Nationalists (i.e., the restoration of most of the large landholders, the reestablishment of "family values" [i.e., strengthening the Church, ending divorce, putting women "in their place", etc.]).

It should be noted that the author definitely has a pro-Republic approach. This can plainly be seen by his descriptions of Republican fighters as "heroic", his mocking of the Pope for the praise he heaped on Franco, etc.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 15 Nov. 2012
By Lee - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted a short, concise but, accurate history of the Spanish Civil War. While it is not a "page turner" it is well written and I am enjoying it.
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