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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spanish Civil War
Antony Beevor's (AB) book on the Spanish Civil war is excellent background reading on this rather tragic event in Spain's History. AB goes through every single detail of the war.

He starts off with describing the development of Spain right up to the `Rising of the Generals' in 1936 and follows this up by going through the various factions involved. There is...
Published on 24 Nov 2006 by Thomas Koetzsch

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some effort at impartial judgement
It is hard to avoid a history of this war becoming a recitation of war crimes. Beevor tries to describe the misconduct of all participants fairly, but an anti-Franco posture is built into almost all of us, and that has long led to the left getting an easy ride.
Seeing the civil wars in Iraq and Syria today gives a better insight into why Britain and France chose...
Published 15 months ago by R. Harrison


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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spanish Civil War, 24 Nov 2006
By 
Antony Beevor's (AB) book on the Spanish Civil war is excellent background reading on this rather tragic event in Spain's History. AB goes through every single detail of the war.

He starts off with describing the development of Spain right up to the `Rising of the Generals' in 1936 and follows this up by going through the various factions involved. There is also a whole section on the involvement of other countries - most notably that of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - in the civil war. When he covers the intellectuals' reaction to the whole event, I was quite surprised at some of the `nostalgic views' expressed. The section, which made me shudder was the book's section on the internal power struggle between the various Republican factions. A lot of this was a copy-cat event of the Stalinist purges in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. AB goes into quite a bit of detail.

I must agree that some of the battles can be hard to follow, but it does help if you study the maps quite thoroughly. But then again I think it would also help if these maps weren't all at the beginning of the book but instead put at the spot of the corresponding battles.

AB of course covers the nationalist victory plus the time after and he doesn't exactly mince words on the style of politics under Franco. But he also asks if a republican victory would have been the better solution and he does not give any definite answer except saying that a Stalinist-type communist regime could have been significantly worse.

All told I found this book very good.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prologue to the cataclysm, 2 Jun 2012
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Aidan J. McQuade (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
Antony Beevor has written fine accounts of the battles of Stalingrad, Berlin and Normandy. However this book must rank as his masterpiece. It is a gripping narrative history of the Spanish Civil War, updated from an earlier account he wrote, with new material from former Soviet and other sources. At just over 450 pages (excluding references and notes) it is a substantial volume, but still only half the length of the Spanish language version of the work.

The author is clearly sympathetic to the cause of the Spanish Republic, but this does not stop him from being scathing about its failings, particularly its military ones. He is clear-sighted also about the atrocities of the Republicans but these pale in comparison with those of the Francoists, which were systematic and often chilling in their brutality. In one instance an American journalist was present when a fascist officer handed over to his troops two young girls. The officer "told him calmly that they would not survive more than four hours" (p. 92).

The Spanish Civil War prefigured the cataclysmic struggle of the Second World War, both in terms of the ideological conflicts and as well as the pitiless violence. Yet it is also a conflict which is important to understand in its own terms and for its influence on contemporary Spain and Europe. This is something that Beevor manages seemingly effortlessly. It is a great work of narrative history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear account of complex events, 29 Jun 2012
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markr - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
This is a fascinating account of the Spanish Civil War, its causes and its aftermath. Well written and easily read, this account, whilst almost 500 pages long is enjoyable and informative and the pages seem to fly by.

At times the events can be confusing and i found myself using the index to look back at the first references to some of the key people to help me keep track of who was who. The almost endless positioning, rivalries and hatreds which made for mini civil wars within the same sides, can make for confusing reading, as can the to and fro of the battles - but much less confusing than for the people at the time who lived through the madness.

This is a superb book which makes the complex events of the civil war relatively easy to follow. Of course at times, like any well written account of warfare and its almost inevitable atrocities, it is quite horrifying, and i found myself grateful for living in an age of relative peace. Long may that continue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex Civil War, 28 Sep 2013
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Mr. D. J. Linnell "francophile" (Northampton, England) - See all my reviews
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Having read a number of historical books by Antony Beevor I looked forward to reading this and was not disappointed. Whilst I was aware of the Civil War I did not know the complexities of the political groupings in the build up and who exactly supported who in terms of the Republic and the Loyalists. Hitler and Mussolini were in for Franco up to their necks and Stalin was in for the Republicans, and Beevor gives his usual cool analysis of complex situations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long, detailed & very complex, 17 April 2014
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The Spanish Civil War has always interested & horrified me.

The problem is it is (more than many civil wars) viciously complex with multiple parties and personalities.

Beevor's book is a very good study of the war but it not easy going. The Communist infighting within the Republican movement adds layers that require concentration.

Having a map handy helps too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absorbing, 19 Jan 2014
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An incredible story that everyone should read, if only to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again. The large number of factions are difficult to come to terms with at first but fall in to place and reading gets easier as the book proceeds. Any one interested in 20th century history hold read this book and everyone should be interested in that history. This book is not just about Spain!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction, 22 Jun 2009
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Frank Mill (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
I started reading this book knowing nothing at all about the Spanish Civil War but learned a whole lot about it as I progressed through the chapters. Generally the book is excellent. It is informative, and I think, relatively neutral. The only small complaint I have about it is that too often I had to remind myself of who the characters and organisations referred to in the text were but this was not too big a burden. I would recommend the book to anyone like me wanting a general introduction to this subject.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and impressive, 4 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
Occasionally, very rarely in fact, one comes across a thoroughly outstanding book. From beginning to end it's authoritative, clearly written, lucid and somehow both committed and balanced. Eventually such a work will take a clear position, but it will never approach polemic. Such books are indeed rare, but Anthony Beevor's The Battle For Spain is without doubt one of these few great works.

The Battle For Spain chronicles the Spanish Civil War, 1936-9. Anthony Beevor examines the political, economic and social background of the country prior to the war. He identifies historical context and offers explanation of why Spain found itself in a position of near-irredeemable political impasse in the 1930s. He also examines the movements, parties and associations that existed at the start of the struggle, alongside institutions such as the Church and monarchy that also played significant roles.

So well portrayed is all the in-fighting, intrigue and manoeuvring that we feel we almost get to know the characters involved. The reader constantly has to remember that this is not mere fiction. Its immediacy almost tricks us into thinking that these events might be just some thought-up plot created merely to keep us involved. But then the casualty figures start to stack up and we are reminded by the executions and the refugees that this is a bleak and stark reality. The story's detail may come as a surprise to the casual reader who remains unaware of just how intense and bloody this conflict was.

Anthony Beevor also provides the essential geopolitical context of the Spanish Civil War. He identifies how the rise of fascism and communism in the years preceding the war both played their perhaps inevitable roles by backing their favoured sides in the conflict. It was inevitable in a Europe that was already unstable. Spain was a prize that would add weight to any interest.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Battle For Spain is its description of the role played by the northern Carlists. Much has been written about the Falange, the POUM anarchists and the communists. But little usually emerges about the religious conformists who played a significant role on the Nationalist side.

The character of Franco eventually comes to dominate proceedings. He is revealed as obviously victorious and without peer, but he also sometimes dithers, lacks judgment and seeks rather unsuccessfully to play off one side against another. He is not alone, however, in that the British and the French displayed the same skills or ineptitudes, depending on which side you take.

But where The Battle For Spain excels is in its catalogue of the horrid events of the war. The detail of Anthony Beevor's account really brings out the confusion of conflict alongside the luck and opportunism on the one hand and incompetence and chance on the other. It's a cocktail of these that grant both victory and defeat. Just ask the dead, the wounded and the refugeed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some effort at impartial judgement, 29 Aug 2013
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R. Harrison - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
It is hard to avoid a history of this war becoming a recitation of war crimes. Beevor tries to describe the misconduct of all participants fairly, but an anti-Franco posture is built into almost all of us, and that has long led to the left getting an easy ride.
Seeing the civil wars in Iraq and Syria today gives a better insight into why Britain and France chose non-interventionism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spanish Civil War, 1 July 2009
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Mr. David G. Burton (Witney, Oxon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
Anthony Beevor's book, 'The Battle for Spain' is an excellent and comprehensive study of a complex subject. As in his other books such as 'Stalingrad' he brings history to life and the reader is vividly aware of the terrible conditions the battles were fought under and the vicious reprisals by each side on the other when they were in control of territory. The only downside is not the author's fault, but the many different parties involved are represented by initials and these are hard to remember for the casual reader. For the student they are clearly listed at the beginning of the book
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The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 by Antony Beevor (Paperback - 24 May 2007)
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