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Franco's Friends
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 August 2011
Peter Day's book is a lively tale of the often implausible collection of British and Spanish characters who helped bring General Franco to power in Spain and then keep Spain out of the Second World War. The British who feature in the story vary from the disreputable right-wingers who were keen on Franco, dictatorship and extremism through to honourable pragmatists who were willing to pay large sums in bribes to help ensure Spain's neutrality whilst Britain was busy fighting Hitler. All often read like figures out of espionage fiction, especially the British spy caught dressed as a woman who promptly claimed he was simply taking clothes to a female friend in a convenient way.

Many are also larger than life characters with a mix of secret or even murky personal connections that suggest a large web of intrigue. Yet the conspiracies - such as the secret flight using a British plane and crew to bring Franco to the scene of the start of the coup that took him to power - are clearly true. True also is the fact that much was done to direct money into the hands of influential Spanish to persuade them to keep Spain neutral once the Second World War had started.

It is not always clear quite how true the boasts some people subsequently made about their adventurers really were, and there is always a risk at viewing a close network of entwined personal acquaintances, friendships and work colleagues as also meaning a close network of conspiracy (people can know each other without conspiring together). To his credit Peter Day does not assume there is always conspiracy where there is friendship and truth where there are memoirs in the way that low-grade sensational histories do.

The book never quite directly addresses how important the events it chronicles were. For example, the flight that took Franco from the Canaries to Morocco was dramatic, but how important was it to Franco's coup succeeding? Certainly the events in the book seem to fall short of the book flap's claims of how Britain's involvement in the flight and related events meant that Franco's coup was "orchestrated" by the British secret services.

What the book does bring out clearly is not only the often difficult moral choices faced in foreign policy (is bribing nasty extremists with cash acceptable if the outcome is one less wartime enemy?) and also the long history of close links between England and Spain, now often forgotten in Britain at least. It also does so while being a lively, enjoyable read, with the narrative only slipping slightly into obscurity over the details of Franco's trip.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2012
It showed in painstaking detail the support forthcoming for Franco's rebellion from the British aristocracy, the Secret Service and other right-wing forces, They put their antagonism to Socialism before their respect for democratic elections. MI6 chartered the plane that flew Franco from virtual exile in the Canaries to North Africa, from where he launched the rebellion with Moorish troops. This British flight is new information revealed to the public and constitutes the main interest of the book, which otherwise tends to be a repetitive catalogue of the highly-placed persons who plotted against democracy
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2013
Anyone who thinks Britain was 'neutral' during the Spanish Civil War ought to read this book. With 1930s Spain as a major trading partner, British business interests and a fear of anything Red take centre stage as Franco's Friends help him to start a civil war and destroy Spain's democratically elected government. Quite an eye-opener.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2012
Phil Mason is a specialist in debunking myths of history and this is another in his series. For whatever reason (general ignorance, laziness by teachers, deferment to authority) people grow up believing all manner of rubbish. Mason puts us right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2015
Witty, yet depressing story of how the British establishment ensured Franco was victorious in Spain. Horrifically, if they hadn't, the Second World War might have been lost.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2011
This book.One in the eye for Harold.The lies,Myths and Distortions That Shape History
Has been one of the most fascinating books I have ever read and would advise any
person who is a history buff to read it
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2013
This is a very important and well-researched book in spite of its modest size. Of course, it is for specialists. But those who are interested in the Spanish Civil War shall also find it very useful.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I have been very surprised when I was reeding this book. Its contents are very interesting and it opend my mind about the prolegomena of the spanish civil war. Being a man that was born in 1937, at the beginning the only sources available were the books I studied at the school that obviously were biased in favor of the Franco ideas. During the 80's the books were biased in the oposit ideas, specially during the last socialist government, but all these were not history , were books of ideas.
This book is really history, tells you facts. Never I could imagine that the help of the english at all levels were the reason why Franco could won the war. I suspected during many years that at official levels by no means England wanted that neither Spain were a colony of Stalin, or a colony of Hitler or Mussolini, and that book confirm my ideas with facts. This type of books should be texts at the spanish schools.
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on 14 April 2015
Interesting stuff but for some reason I find it difficult to get through at least the first section which I'm still reading!
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on 20 July 2015
Great insight into how the establishment helped Franco, a great read.
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