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The Spanish Civil War
on 24 November 2006
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.