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The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War (Canto) [Paperback]

Gerald Brenan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Sep 1990 Canto
Gerald Brenan's The Spanish Labyrinth has become the classic account of the background to the Spanish Civil War. Written during and immediately after the Civil War, this 1990 book has all the vividness of the author's experience. It represents a struggle to see the issues in Spanish politics objectively, whilst bearing witness to the deep involvement which is the only possible source of much of this richly detailed account. As a literary figure on the fringe of the Bloomsbury group, Gerald Brenan lends to this narrative an engaging personal style that has become familiar to many thousands of readers over the decades since it was first published.

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The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War (Canto) + South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics) + As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (13 Sep 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521398274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521398275
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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' … shows the expert, subtle-minded and sometimes cynically truthful, in his quest of what really has created modern Spain … careful, sympathetic and judicial'. Cyril Connolly The Observer

Book Description

Gerald Brenan's The Spanish Labyrinth, first published in 1990, has become the classic account of the background to the Spanish Civil War.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction available 23 Aug 2003
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for understanding Spain 10 April 2010
This is a famous book and deservedly so. It's long, detailed and prejudiced but it's always readable and entertaining. The history of Spain leading up to the civil war is a complicated story but this book makes it understandable. I found it excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Study 3 Mar 2012
Few books I have read on the Spanish Civil War have lived up to my expectations, yet Gerald Brenan's classic account remains one of them. Nobody wishing to understand the war can avoid the complexities surrounding its causation specifically the internal questions. As such Brenan's account is a must for those students wishing to grasp the historical background of the conflict. The books is very well detailed and is structured excellently. Brenan is apt at contrasting the views of those social groups within Spain and showing how a period of consistent conflicts between these groups culminated in a civil war. His main strength clearly lies in his analysis and description of the condition of the working classes in Spain. This in part is due to Brenan's experiences in Spain, he was not an academic writing in a library, but someone who had frequented Spain throughout his life and as such understood the prevailing conditions extremely well. With this detailed chapters on the Anarchists, Socialists and Carlists are of great importance and will give the reader a solid understanding of such important groups.
Perhaps the most important chapter is his analysis of the agrarian question which from Brenan's point of view was the most decisive issue facing Spanish society in that period. There can be little doubt of its importance, and Brenan shows the conflict over the question very well, most notably the clash between the landowning classes and peasants. Such issues surrounding class are of vital importance for any understanding of the civil war and Brenan proves himself to be the most apt for detailing this. This in itself may seen strange given the first edition was published in 1943, yet it has not lost any of its original strength and remains an absolute must for those interested in not only the Spanish Civil War but Spanish history in general.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant analysis of Spain's troubled history. 27 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want to understand the Spanish people, this is the book for you: the best account of Spain and its roller-coaster history.
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