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The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge Paperback – 5 Jun 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint. edition (5 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007232071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007232079
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘[Preston’s] economical style, together with a telling choice of quotes and mordant use of irony, serve his purpose admirably…it is founded upon a vast knowledge and will not easily be refuted.’ History Today

‘Not just a detailed description of events but a real interpretation of the causes and course of the war. By allowing the actors of the great Spanish drama to speak, he captures the dynamics of the civil war.’ La Stampa

‘Paul Preston’s book throws new, definitive light on the conflict.’ L’Unità

About the Author

Paul Preston is Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History at the LSE. He has frequently acted as a commentator on Spanish affairs on radio and television and in print in both Britain and Spain. His many books include ‘The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in Twentieth-Century Spain’, ‘Franco: A Biography’, ‘Doves of War: Four Women of Spain’ and ‘Juan Carlos’. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, was made a Comendador de la Orden de Mérito Civil by King Juan Carlos of Spain, and in 2000 was awarded a CBE.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`The Spanish Civil War' is a well researched and scholarly account of this often overlooked, but contentious conflict. The first hundred pages of this book are the driest to read which doesn't bode well initially, but with perseverance it quickly become more engaging and interesting to read. The first part of the book explores the setting and lead up to the war and is necessary to fully appreciate what comes afterwards. The atrocities of the war are shocking to read and whilst the conflict is complex to fully understand, this book goes some way to clarifying it. This book is mildly biased in favour of the republicans, but not only is the acknowledged in the introduction, it is to be expected when you realise how despised Franco has become and the atrocities he committed. There are two middle plate sections with various photos of the conflict and whilst they are not especially relevant to some of the text, they do set the scene very well. This falls down by not explaining some of Franco's involvement in WW2 which would be interesting considering the Civil war ended in 1939 and he was supported by Mussolini and Hitler. There is also scant mention of how he died and the immediate repercussions, although the latter aspect is touched upon very briefly. Overall though this is an interesting account of the conflict and despite the slow start makes for an informative and engaging read.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By steven trotter on 14 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Far too short on detail for me. Plus I find Preston too much of an apologist for the Spanish Communist Party in regard to its actions during the Spanish Civil War. I really did not agree with his generalised opinions on the Anarchists and other Leftist factions either but then again I am extremely biased in that regard. I agree with the author that thanks to the Spanish Communist Party Madrid held out for so long but there was no excuse for their later conduct against the other Leftist factions in the Republic. Still an interesting read though and I agree with him that the farce of non-intervention by the Western 'democracies' cost the Republic dear. I also found the author very insightful on the characteristics of the cold, calculating and mediocre General Franco and one of the positive's of the book is Preston's passionate Anti-Fascism.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Di on 2 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
While this may not be the most complete book about the Spanish Civil War, it is a pleasantly well written and concise account of the conflict.
It provides a good overview of the civil war years, without the pain of going through dates, battles and all the detail that you may find on other history books. It does have a good index of references at the end though.Paul Preston's prose has such a good rithm that it feels almost like reading a novel.
A good recomendation for those that wish some general knowledge about the war. If you want something more detailed (with pictures, front evolution maps etc) you will need to go for a bigger volume.
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Format: Paperback
By the standards of key works on Spain's Civil War this is fairly concise at about 300 pages. However its value to students of the period is far more than this (possibly partly because it is so tightly structured).

This is not a blow by blow account of the war. For that the newest Beevor work is probably better. Rather Preston takes a loosely narrative structure and uses it to examine the key themes produced by the conflict in a clear and perceptive manner. The initial chapters setting the context should be compulsory reading not just for those interested in the 1930's but for those who want to understand modern Spain. The divisions and splits apparent before 1930 still figure prominently today: the historic poverty of the rural south and west still shows in the fact today that these areas are hardest hit by "la crisa". The separatist tendencies of the Basques and Catalans similarily predate the Franco and Post Franco era.

The complexities of the political infighting of both right and especially left in the 1930's is an area that can confuse and make the period difficult to fathom. Preston does an excellent job of navigating the reader through the ebb and flo of the politics helped by a list of key figures and a glossary of key terms attached as appendii. I found his treatment of the international aspect of the war most illuminating. Not just the intervention of Italy and Germany but also in making the less obvious war aims of the USSR evident. Most of all he shows up the at best perfidious, at worst antagonistic attitude of France and especially Britain to the legitimate Republican government. Officially peddling non-intervention, this did little more than cloak indirect support for Franco and the nationalists.
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Format: Paperback
There have been many books on the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, but the rationale for what is a third revised and updated version of Paul Preston's "The Spanish Civil War" first published in 1986 is a wealth of recent research, particularly on the extent of Francoist repression and the role of Mussolini. Like the earlier editions, this book aims to be a concise introduction to a large and complex field of study, and is analytical rather than descriptive. Preston makes it clear that his book is no substitute for the full-scale treatments of Hugh Thomas's "The Spanish Civil War" or Anthony Beevor's "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)", both of which have detailed narratives of the war and its origins. It should therefore be judged on the basis of what it is attempting to do. It does this well, and is a good introduction to the subject.

Preston makes it clear at the outset his sympathy with the attempts of the Spanish Republic to provide a better a better life for the poorer members of Spanish society, and he believes that the Nationalist victory of 1939 and Franco's dictatorship did not benefit Spain. Like Beevor, he is generally sympathetic to liberal Republicans, moderate Socialists and regional parties and against the more extreme left and to some extent the Communists. His frankness about what may appear bias enables the reader to make adjustments, unlike Thomas whose support for the Communists over Anarchist or Trotskyite group is presented as impartial. Preston's sympathies are based less on ideology than the actual experiences of those involved in the Civil war and the internal disputes within the Republican zone.

This is a compact, well written study with good illustrations.
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