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The Spanish Holocaust [Hardcover]

Paul Preston
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
RRP: £30.00
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

Selected as the Sunday Times History Book of the Year for 2012, this is a meticulous work of scholarship from the foremost historian of 20th-century Spain.

The culmination of more than a decade of research, ‘The Spanish Holocaust’ seeks to reflect the intense horrors visited upon Spain during its ferocious civil war, the consequences of which still reverberate bitterly today.

The brutal, murderous persecution of Spaniards between 1936 and 1945 is a truth that should have been told long ago. Paul Preston here offers the first comprehensive picture of what he terms “the Spanish Holocaust”: mass extra-judicial murder of some 200,000 victims, cursory military trials, torture, the systematic abuse of women and children, sweeping imprisonment, the horrors of exile. Those culpable for crimes committed on both sides of the Civil War are named; their victims identified.

‘The Spanish Holocaust’ illuminates one of the darkest, least-known eras of modern European history.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (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 (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark and compelling - not for the faint hearted! 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opening! 31 May 2014
By Billj
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a breath taking and hugely impressive account of what is perhaps one of the least known or understood conflicts of the 20th century.Franco's regime has often been seen as a sort of benign dictatorship and the least oppressive of the fascist regimes.This extremely well researched book by the leading british expert on the subject puts that view firmly in its place.Franco and his supporters saw their own countrymen as sub human,they were happy to see people starve to death and saw them as subversive for wanting to be able to feed their families.The fascists manipulated the press which they largely owned and gave credence to the most absurd tales to ferment violence.The scale of the atrocities committed by both sides in the conflict was appalling and Paul Preston is scrupulous in giving the murders committed by both sides equal coverage. It quickly becomes clear however that the fascists used repression terror indiscriminate slaughter as a tactic.Many of the military had served in North Africa were atrocities against the native populations were the norm and they viewed and treated the Spanish working class and rural poor in the same way.

At times the book can be hard to read as the horror of mans' inhumanity to man and the depths of depravity to which people can sink overwhelms one.Paul Preston is one of the countries leading historians and the spanish civil war is his specialist subject..His knowledge of his subject is awesome and his writing is superbly readable.My 17yo daughter recently attended a lecture given by him at her school and it was her response to it (she knew nothing of the spanish civil war before and is not a history student) that prompted me to buy this book..Its opened my eyes.I could go on but readers should make up their own minds.Buy this book.I shall be reading more of Paul Prestons work
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental Scholarship 29 Mar 2012
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the definite story of Spain's civil war 30 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With compelling personal stories and lots of data for every part of Spain under Franco's terror, the atrocities by Franco are far worse than that of the leftist civilians. Apart from the anarchists in Catalunya there were numerous killings by Franco's army, explained in this book even per village.
A great story to read for everyone who is interested in Spain's recent history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
an excellent copy Thankyou
Published 2 months ago by Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Title is well-suited
I was intrigued by this book and its title, about a subject in world history which I honestly didn't know anything about. Read more
Published 2 months ago by James Blakelock
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 2 months ago by Peter Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
I have read many books on the Spanish civil war and find this book one of the most informative and yet very readable . Read more
Published 3 months ago by Marian Healy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by NMac
3.0 out of 5 stars A shocking account of the conditions experienced by the civilian...
Graphic accounts of what the Spanish people had to endure at the hands of Franco's forces and the sheer hatred of anyone who had a left wing opinion. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Roger Bridgeman
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This book consists of a laundry list of atrocities recorded in the most minute detail. You can't see the wood for the trees. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Egregious
1.0 out of 5 stars Mistake
This was a grave mistake. I thought it might be a reasonably well written modern history, but it's a dull academic history written in screaming polemic. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Peter Fine
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
My husband is Catalan and after hearing many stories about the diabolical treatment of his nation by Franco and the like i felt i wanted to try and understand why and how it... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Toby Macmillan
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and well written.
A very unfortunate and harrowing part of Spanish history and this book helps one understand why it came about.
Published 10 months ago by Mr S ROWELL
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