This book is widely thought of as the best introduction to the Spanish Civil War around. As well as charting the basic cycles of state ranging from Isabella to Franco, it also offers specific insights to the various factions competing within each area of Spain at any given time. For those who have not grappled with the political complexity of the early 20th century in Spain, this book provides an excellent (and not so superficial) historical insight into Anarchism, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Carlism, and the Falange. It also explains the allegiances of the POUM and PCE during the course of the war, and the equally complex make-up of Franco's grand coalition.
The earlier dictatorship of Primo de Rivero is also covered, and (uniquely) the Agrarian problem (essentially the crux of all Spanish politics in this period) is properly covered.
If there are to be criticisms of this work, then perhaps the racial generalisations and assumptions made of Spaniards feel somewhat dated, and feel odd when compared to the political correctness of today. Also, the use of "anarchic" and "anarchy" to mean chaos (which is not the same thing!) is unfotunate, given that the Anarchist movement in Spain came closer than has ever been seen to giving these words their true meaning. But these are mere trifles. As well as being a seminal historical study, this is also a wonderfully readable account of one of the most interesting periods in Spanish history.