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The Spanish Holocaust Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st edition, 4th impression edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002556340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002556347
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘The Spanish civil war is, of course, one of the best-chronicled events in modern European history. But Preston goes well beyond previous historians in his magisterial but chillingly meticulous record of slaughter systematically tearing down the self-serving left-wing and (especially) right-wing myths about the conflict…. Exhaustively researched and masterfully written… the result is a book of extraordinary moral and emotional power, a classic of historical scholarship and a deeply affecting record of man’s inhumanity to man.’ Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

'A harrowing and moving account of the immense terror and enormous atrocities, especially perpetrated by General Franco's followers, during and after the Spanish Civil War, meticulously researched and superbly written by an outstanding historian.' Ian Kershaw

'Only in democratic Spain, with the end of censorship and the opening up of archives and mass graves, have Spanish historians been able to provide us with the truth: that the Right killed about three times as many people as the Left. It is upon their research that Preston has based his meticulously compiled account… Paul Preston has done his subject proud.' The Spectator

'Monumental, rigorous and unflinching… important and opportune in ways that reach far beyond the purely academic… Preston’s contribution is a major one, both in tracing the fundamentalist origins of the military coup that unleashed the killing and in reconstructing its complex consequences… Preston’s study is history as a public good. A substitute for the truth and reconciliation process that has not taken place in Spain.' The Independent

'An angry, scholarly revision of the civil war and the subsequent years of Franco’s dictatorship.' The Daily Telegraph

'Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand Spain and its recent history… Preston’s excellent, spine-chilling narrative explains just how deep Franco’s early investment in terror was… this is an invaluable book that does not shrink from even the harshest of truths.' The Guardian

'Paul Preston’s account of the torture and slaughter of thousands of civilians and captives during and after the Spanish civil war vividly describes events that we would unhesitatingly describe as war crimes or crimes against humanity… drawing on meticulous research over many years, Preston… leaves no room for doubt that the events he describes were… crimes so appalling that they negate our humanity. He wept at times as he prepared what he calls ‘an extremely painful book to write’. Readers will weep too.' The Financial Times

'Chillingly powerful… made compelling through the energy of the writing and the author’s novelistic eye for detail… the ultimate importance of Preston’s relentless and impeccable research is a reminder of the evil unleashed by Franco.' The Literary Review

'Anyone who supposes that Franco’s regime was only mildly despotic and repressive should read this wonderful book about a horrible subject.' Daily Express

'Paul Preston is the outstanding scholar of Spain's Civil War, and The Spanish Holocaust is unquestionably his opus magnus. For the first time, the horror of the Spanish conflict has been placed in its appropriate historical context. As documented by Preston in this moving, brilliantly rendered account, Spain was not only the scene-setter for World War Two, but also the proving ground for the campaigns of mass-murder that became its ghastly hallmark. A deeply important, powerful work of history.' Jon Lee Anderson

'Preston’s knowledge is deep and encyclopaedic, and his status as the foremost historian of this period is incontestable. This book amply corroborates that accolade… for sheer depth of knowledge, this book will stay on the shelves of those interested in this historical period for years to come. The Spanish Holocaust is the culmination of  a truly outstanding career. To his peerless scholarship, Preston adds dynamic prose and a deeply humane feeling for those caught in events they did nothing to deserve or to bring about.' Times Higher Education

About the Author

Paul Preston CBE is Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History and Director of the Cañada Blanch Centre of Contemporary Spanish Studies at LSE. He was lecturer at the University of Reading and Professor of History at Queen Mary University. In 2006 he was awarded the International Ramon Llull Prize by the Catalan Government. Among his many works are 'The Triumph of Democracy in Spain' (1986), 'Franco: A Biography' (1993), 'A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War' (1996), 'Comrades' (1999), 'Doves of War: Four Women in Spain' (2002), 'Juan Carlos' (2004) and 'The Spanish Civil War' (2006). He was decorated by Spanish King Juan Carlos a 'Comendador de la Orden de Mérito Civil' and in 2007, the 'Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica'.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By David J. Glazier on 22 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an unabashed Hispanophile - I first went to Spain in 1949. My father had an involvement with Harveys of Bristol and we drove to visit sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera from Gibraltar, my mother's childhood home. It was the first foreign country I ever visited. I felt at home immediately.

Here I am 63 years later commenting on a book which should have been written many years ago but nobody had the courage to do so. During the several years that I lived and worked in the country and during the many visits that I have made since 1949 people were very reluctant to talk about the Civil War to me or my wife. One was aware of it, of course, but the circumstances and reasons for what happened seem to be so impossible to obtain that Spaniards seem to suffer from collective amnesia no matter which "side" they or their families were on. Of course, not many Spaniards who were involved at the time are now alive so first hand accounts are hard to come by. It seems that the experts on the period are either British - Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston, for example - or Irish, Ian Gibson, of course.

The Spanish Holocaust is not a book to be read for pleasure nor, indeed, quickly. Preston goes to pains to record the atrocities committed by both sides - it is a pity that at times he seems to want to register the "score" with the Nationalists clearly "winning" but he also places much emphasis on the equally insidious acts of the anarchist movement and the involvement of opportunistic criminal elements. What is very clear, and very disappointing to me as a Catholic, is that the Church took sides with the Nationalists and justified much of the mayhem - maybe the Church in the Basque Country was an exception.
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65 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Willy Maley on 29 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
With this book Paul Preston has produced the most compelling account of the Spanish Civil War to date, presenting in unflinching detail its causes, its chaos, its carnage, and its consequences. Preston's limitless erudition is offered up in an elegant prose that refuses to sanitize or sensationalize a period marked by unspeakable atrocities that nevertheless must be spoken of. The traumatic tales told in this incredible memorial to human suffering will make the reader lay it down from time to time - as its author had to do in the writing of it. As someone whose father fought for the International Brigades in Spain, and was captured at Jarama in 1937 and imprisoned at Salamanca, I have a personal connection to the conflict, but this is not a book about the International Brigades, or heroism, or one that shies away from looking long and hard at the despicable violence on all sides. Preston's clear-eyed study will make readers cry, but his utterly unsentimental analysis of war crimes, while never resorting to easy morality or high-minded condemnation, is a salutary lesson in understanding one of the most vicious episodes in modern history. This is research in the interests of recovery of memory, and that's arguably among the most important roles that scholarship can fill.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bookelephant on 9 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that Preston knows his stuff - he is the "go to" man for this era of Spanish history. So if you want a meticulous authoritiative account, this may well be your resource. One can't say it is a fun or an easy read. The subect matter precludes the former, and the sheer weight of detail precludes the latter.

I would not myself recommend it to a first time reader on this subject; having approached it as such myself I found it really quite a struggle and had to go off and get some background elsewhere to put me in context, after I spent the first hundred pages or so feeling my head was spinning. However I gather from other reviews that if you are less lamentably ignorant on the subject than I was, it is much less of a struggle; so if you know a bit about the subject chances are you will revel in it. And to be fair once I did get a bit settled I found it a hugely informative, if deptressing, book.

My one niggle (and this may be my ignorance, but the Lit Rev reviewer seemed to think this too) - there seemed to be something of a pro-Republican bias. All the republican outrages seemed to be accepted as legitimate revenge for earlier horrors by the rightists; but a rightist outrage, even where it was expressly said to be in revenge (and where Preston accepted such a republican attack had taken place, which he often does not, sometimes without explaining why) never seems to be accepted as justified revenge ...
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rich H on 28 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated during and after the Civil War, the majority by Franco's pitiless cadres of crazed fascists, Moroccan legionnaires, and ordinary Spaniards drunk on right-wing ideology and virulent anti-left wing propaganda. The Catholic church too played a pivotal role in establishing legitimacy for the murderous excesses perpetrated in the name of 'cleansing' and `purification'. As Preston states at the outset, Franco alongside his mad Generals Mola and de Llano, were only ever interested in conducting a war of total annihilation against an evil Marxist-Jewish-Masonic conspiracy that they believed lay behind the democratic Republic. Theirs was a fight for the true soul of Spain in which even the slightest dissent or deviation from their cause was viewed as treason, and anyone with left-wing sympathies regarded as either pathologically insane or sub-human. Thus the 'red scum' that infested the villages town and cities across the vast country were hunted down and systematically destroyed. Franco's project was the genocide of an entire political class.

Preston gives due weight to the war crimes perpetrated in the Republican areas - but these, even in their ferocity and scale, pale into insignificance compared to the vast horrors of the advancing fascist columns in places like Badojoz, Talavera de la Reina, Teruel and countless others in Asturias, the Basque country and Catalunya.

It was, by the author's admission, a painfully difficult book to write. It is also an intensely harrowing book to read. The scale and unrelenting suffering described is numbing in its effect: page after page of brutality, cruelty and unimaginable contempt for humanity is here laid out in forensic detail.
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