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94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant
This book is truly essential reading for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War, or for that matter anyone with an interest in war, Communism, Socialism, Anarchism or in Literature. Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War is more than just a brilliant account of life in a civil war, it is a first hand account of the horrors of Stalinism, and Orwell's experiences in...
Published on 6 Dec 2006 by Wally

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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memorable account of an almost forgotten war.
The Spanish Civil War of 1936, might make your average 21st Century schoolboy scratch his head in ignorance, and half-imagine some sunny gun battles around the swimming pool of a rowdy Benidorm hotel. But to the idealistic and humanitarian George Orwell, it was the long-awaited chance to do his bit against the ever growing threat of Fascism; the political 'desease' as he...
Published on 21 April 2001


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story telling, travelogue, political awakening, 21 April 2009
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a great book, it is Orwell's account of his decision to fight Fascism not simply in word but deed, travelling to Spain on an Independent Labour Party ticket, reflecting upon privation at the front, propaganda and political lying before getting shot in the throat for his trouble and escaping a political purge to return to the safety of England.

There is no doubt not a little embellishment of the facts, something Orwell was to reflect on himself in later journalism, because of his sheer enthusiasm for Spanish politics (he states his experiences caused him to embrace socialism) and enmity for fascism (he considers it fair to exterminate fascists like vermin). However, it is likely to be as fair an account as other popular accounts, such as Spanish Cockpit (Age of Dictators 1920-1945) or The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War (Canto). For a more historical account consider Anthony Beevor's The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.

There are a lot of the aspects which later formed the core of Orwell's literary - political preoccupations after the struggle, concerns about truth, political lying, betrayal and speculative and personal sympathies for anarchism. Like most of Orwell's other "travelogues", such as The Road to Wigan Pier or Down and Out in Paris and London (Essential Penguin) its full of idiosyncratic observaions about life, its hardships and simple pleasures (such as buttered toast).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cause worth fighting for a price to be paid ..., 16 Dec 2013
Always wanted to read this and slightly embarrassed that I had not, Kindle is so discreet! Orwell just ouses an unsentimental humanity and understated courage, you cannot but admire him. The whole aura of the International Brigade has gained a heroic romance. Orwell has none of it, he genuinely tells it like it is, was. I am sure that there must be other accounts of this momentous period that are well worth reading but the intimacy and immediacy of this book makes it an absolute spell binder. Should be compulsory reading,well let's face it Animal Farm almost is? The politics is raw and Orwell has the integrity not to shrink from the appalling compromises and plain wrongness of the sectarian confusion mad inhumanity of civil war. Politics is complexity and though we are never left in doubt of where Orwell's sympathies lie he has given an honest and sincere account of his and his immediate comrades experiences. If you are a socialist of any description you will be humbled by this exceptional and life affirming book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real story of the Spanish Civil War, 5 Nov 2013
By 
A. Bloomfield (Stoke-onTrent) - See all my reviews
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George Orwell was not a natural soldier but he was seriously wounded at the front and shared the sufferings of the ordinary soldiers. He was inspired by the Socialism of the population of Barcelona and it shaped the rest of his life and work.
Here is the truth not the progaganda.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Want to know why Franco won?, 21 Mar 2006
By 
Caterkiller (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
To begin, Orwell's book is captivating. The opening chapter vividly describes the proto-commune of Barcelona with "workers" unrestrainadly testing the boundaries of their new freedom. Then to the front: excrement, minimal rations, one rifle between six soldiers, and at least 500yds too far from the enemy for any meaningful soldiering. As he returns to Barcelona Orwell experiences the chaos of a "socialist" paradise as factionalism breaks out between anarchists, Stalinists, left-wing leftists, right-wing leftists and centerists, each denouncing the other as Franco sympathisers. This culminates in the police arresting messengers carrying military orders to and from the front if they suspect the messenger belongs to the wrong faction, and with no regard to the needs of the war effort. The enigma in this is Orwell. He barely explains why he is in Catalonia, why he enlists in the militia, and records the political infighting with (largely) a detached air (similar to his back-storyless experiences in "Down and Out....") . Although his objectivity is a strength of the book as readers we want to know more about HIM!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good insight, 11 Oct 2010
This book describes how George Orwell came to Spain and joined up with one of the groups who were fighting, his experiences at the front and then when he was wounded and went back to be with his wife. It was a good book as obviously he had been right there, so you knew that what he wrote was true, from his perspective anyway. It was quite reflective in parts as well, which was good, reflecting on why they were fighting and what it was all for. I did get a bit confused about all the political groups - but I think thats just due to my lack of knowledge rather than the writing. Recommended to anyone who wants to know about the Spanish Civil war from someone who was actually there - and also to anyone who likes to read good writing! :)
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant storytelling combined with a history lesson, 24 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Homage to Catalonia provides a magnificent insight into what happened to Orwell to change and underline his feelings towards socialism, communism, and fascism, before he wrote his classics Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four. It also reveals small but interesting things about Orwell himself, like as to why he chose rats for Winston Smith's nightmare encounter in Room 101. There are also very strong links in Homage to Catalonia to The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell's prevoius book, especially in the way he manages to combine his brilliant storytelling with both a history lesson and a political manifesto, which he so masterfully lays out throughout the pages. For anyone who wants to begin learning about the Spanish Civil War for the first time, or for whoever wants to find out more about the events that changed Orwell's life in the leadup to him writing possibly the best novel of the entire 20th century, Homage to Catalonia is highly recommended. Robert Hastings
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Were thousands of POUM activists really fascist spies - No, this was class warfare in action, 17 Aug 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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The Spanish Civil War is fiendishly complicated but this work by Orwell gives a very full picture of a particular faction - the independent men of honour who joined the war from a feeling that they must go to the aid of the republicans in their fight against fascism. He found himself sequestered with a few other Englishmen and a large battalion of Spanish recruits, most of whom were very young - 15 or 16, on average. He explains: "In trench warfare five things are important: firewood, food, tobacco, candles and the enemy. In winter on the Zaragoza front they were important in that order, with the enemy a bad last." He went on: "...the preoccupation of both armies was to keep warm... On every hilltop, Fascist or Loyalist, a knot of ragged dirty men shivering round their flag and trying to keep warm."

Early in his account Orwell makes a startling admission: "In reality it was the Communists above all others who prevented revolution in Spain. Later, when the Right-wing forces were in full control, the Communists showed themselves willing to go a great deal further than the Liberals in hunting down the revolutionary leaders." This is bewildering to the uninitiated, for whom Communism is synonymous with revolution, but Stalinism is not quite Communism, just as Socialism is not quite Liberalism. We are dealing here with a Communism much different to the country of 1917's series of revolutions that brought about the Soviet States of Russia.

At the time, there was a huge upsurge of propaganda which was swallowed whole by the world's press - especially lazy Britain's press - REDS CRUCIFY NUNS, was one example and another was that Fascist barricades were made from the bodies of living children. I would like to see anyone try that one. Orwell experienced living in Catalonia, albeit in a soldierly way as a kind of foretaste of Socialism: "...one realised afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word `comrade' stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug."

Throughout this book you get a sense of Orwell trying to explain what he went through without the usual sort of exaggeration that goes on when the conflict between enemies is described. He spent only three months at the front, much of it characterised by sheer boredom and winter-cold. He is able to unravel the difficult political dimensions of this war, though the dangers he faced, as well as being shot in the throat, are not dwelt upon. He writes of his return to England with lyrical fervour: "... it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate..."

This book is invaluable for anyone who needs an incisive but unbiased insight into the Catalonian factions and activities of the Spanish Civil War.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is not a light read. It is Orwell's ..., 29 Oct 2014
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This is not a light read. It is Orwell's account of his experience of fighting against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, particularly the events in Barcelona. It is necessary reading if you want to try to understand this war and why it is buried deep in the Spanish collective memory. Before reading this I had understood the war to be a particularly nasty civil war, what I did not appreciate, and what is truly shocking are the political shenanigans between opposing factions on the government side.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is quite clear why this is a classic, ..., 27 Nov 2014
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It is quite clear why this is a classic, nowhere else in English is there such a graphic vision of the shambolic activities of the Spanish Civil War. At one moment being sniped at whilst freezing all night on a mountain top to next relaxing in a hotel bar chatting to one's wife, or the typical difference between those behind desks at headquarters and those queing for a bowl of porridge in the rain. All of course written in clear faultless English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful description of the Spanish Civil War, 8 Dec 2014
By 
M. Bocquet (UK) - See all my reviews
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Read this for my book club, but had read it many years ago. A wonderful book, but for some, all the different political groups in Spain at that time proved confusing. However, as a History teacher who has taught this period at A level, I was not confused. It was very informative and explained a lot about the present political situation in Catalonia. Some editions of this book have some illuminating photographs.
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Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics)
Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell (Paperback - 5 Jun 2003)
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