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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark and compelling - not for the faint hearted!
I am an unabashed Hispanophile - I first went to Spain in 1949. My father had an involvement with Harveys of Bristol and we drove to visit sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera from Gibraltar, my mother's childhood home. It was the first foreign country I ever visited. I felt at home immediately.

Here I am 63 years later commenting on a book which should have...
Published on 22 April 2012 by David J. Glazier

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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Disturbing
From the first sentence - when six labourers were shot as a lesson to others by the local landlord - to the last, which recounts a solitary death in a psychiatric hospital, this book is not so much a history as a relentless catalogue of atrocity. Curiously, each page reads almost the same as every other - more murder, rape and horror. After a few chapters I found it hard...
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by DK


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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark and compelling - not for the faint hearted!, 22 April 2012
By 
David J. Glazier (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
I am an unabashed Hispanophile - I first went to Spain in 1949. My father had an involvement with Harveys of Bristol and we drove to visit sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera from Gibraltar, my mother's childhood home. It was the first foreign country I ever visited. I felt at home immediately.

Here I am 63 years later commenting on a book which should have been written many years ago but nobody had the courage to do so. During the several years that I lived and worked in the country and during the many visits that I have made since 1949 people were very reluctant to talk about the Civil War to me or my wife. One was aware of it, of course, but the circumstances and reasons for what happened seem to be so impossible to obtain that Spaniards seem to suffer from collective amnesia no matter which "side" they or their families were on. Of course, not many Spaniards who were involved at the time are now alive so first hand accounts are hard to come by. It seems that the experts on the period are either British - Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston, for example - or Irish, Ian Gibson, of course.

The Spanish Holocaust is not a book to be read for pleasure nor, indeed, quickly. Preston goes to pains to record the atrocities committed by both sides - it is a pity that at times he seems to want to register the "score" with the Nationalists clearly "winning" but he also places much emphasis on the equally insidious acts of the anarchist movement and the involvement of opportunistic criminal elements. What is very clear, and very disappointing to me as a Catholic, is that the Church took sides with the Nationalists and justified much of the mayhem - maybe the Church in the Basque Country was an exception. What is also very disturbing to me is that cities I know well such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera, Málaga, seem to have no memorials to the civilian "caidos" and victims - men, women and children.

Thank you, Paul Preston, for "The Spanish Holocaust", it moved me to tears. Let us hope that todays Spain is not just a veneer attempting to hide the awful events of 75 years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opening!, 31 May 2014
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Paperback)
This is a breath taking and hugely impressive account of what is perhaps one of the least known or understood conflicts of the 20th century.Franco's regime has often been seen as a sort of benign dictatorship and the least oppressive of the fascist regimes.This extremely well researched book by the leading british expert on the subject puts that view firmly in its place.Franco and his supporters saw their own countrymen as sub human,they were happy to see people starve to death and saw them as subversive for wanting to be able to feed their families.The fascists manipulated the press which they largely owned and gave credence to the most absurd tales to ferment violence.The scale of the atrocities committed by both sides in the conflict was appalling and Paul Preston is scrupulous in giving the murders committed by both sides equal coverage. It quickly becomes clear however that the fascists used repression terror indiscriminate slaughter as a tactic.Many of the military had served in North Africa were atrocities against the native populations were the norm and they viewed and treated the Spanish working class and rural poor in the same way.

At times the book can be hard to read as the horror of mans' inhumanity to man and the depths of depravity to which people can sink overwhelms one.Paul Preston is one of the countries leading historians and the spanish civil war is his specialist subject..His knowledge of his subject is awesome and his writing is superbly readable.My 17yo daughter recently attended a lecture given by him at her school and it was her response to it (she knew nothing of the spanish civil war before and is not a history student) that prompted me to buy this book..Its opened my eyes.I could go on but readers should make up their own minds.Buy this book.I shall be reading more of Paul Prestons work
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental Scholarship, 29 Mar 2012
By 
Willy Maley (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
With this book Paul Preston has produced the most compelling account of the Spanish Civil War to date, presenting in unflinching detail its causes, its chaos, its carnage, and its consequences. Preston's limitless erudition is offered up in an elegant prose that refuses to sanitize or sensationalize a period marked by unspeakable atrocities that nevertheless must be spoken of. The traumatic tales told in this incredible memorial to human suffering will make the reader lay it down from time to time - as its author had to do in the writing of it. As someone whose father fought for the International Brigades in Spain, and was captured at Jarama in 1937 and imprisoned at Salamanca, I have a personal connection to the conflict, but this is not a book about the International Brigades, or heroism, or one that shies away from looking long and hard at the despicable violence on all sides. Preston's clear-eyed study will make readers cry, but his utterly unsentimental analysis of war crimes, while never resorting to easy morality or high-minded condemnation, is a salutary lesson in understanding one of the most vicious episodes in modern history. This is research in the interests of recovery of memory, and that's arguably among the most important roles that scholarship can fill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the definite story of Spain's civil war, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Paperback)
With compelling personal stories and lots of data for every part of Spain under Franco's terror, the atrocities by Franco are far worse than that of the leftist civilians. Apart from the anarchists in Catalunya there were numerous killings by Franco's army, explained in this book even per village.
A great story to read for everyone who is interested in Spain's recent history.
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Definitive!, 22 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
Nobody has written about the Spanish Civil War quite like Paul Preston. He is the "go to" historian in both English and Spanish.

Preston's `The Spanish Civil War' is already the definitive book for any antifascist who wants to understand the tragedy that was the fall of Spanish Republic. Throughout his substantial cannon of work he has eloquently portrayed the sacrifices that men and women from across the world made to fight Franco's brutal fascist regime and the shadowy and sinister support he received from Hitler and Mussolini, that was criminally ignored by the rest of Europe.

`The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain' is Preston's tour de force and possibly even surpasses his unparalleled biography of Franco to become his most important contribution to our understanding of 20th century Spain. As ever, Preston has sought to re tell the events, massacres and heroism through the eyes and memories of the lives of those who suffered most. The tragic tales of men and women who took up arms against a military machine that wanted to crush all vestiges of democracy, humanity and secularism.

The primary premise of this 700 page work is that Franco's belief in a Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy resulted in a conscious and systematic attempt to eradicate all Republicans. Preston places the figure of murdered Republicans as high as 200,000 which certainly justifies his use of the term Holocaust. Franco's fanaticism even allowed the Nazis to test drop their bombs on the Spanish people. To its shame, the outside world refused to come to their aid.

A large section of the book is given over to Preston's meticulous research, testament that he has laboured harder and more thoroughly than others that may draw their own or different conclusions. It is often said that in wars, the victors get to write the history. It is the case that of the Spanish Civil War, the victors' have nothing palatable worth remembering, celebrating or commemorating. Preston has often said that he has spent his life fighting Franco. Those who continue to try and apologise for Franco now have their work really cut out as The Spanish Holocaust unquestionably delivers a blow to Franco's reputation that it will be hard to overcome.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immensely detailed and compelling, 9 April 2012
By 
bookelephant (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
There is no doubt that Preston knows his stuff - he is the "go to" man for this era of Spanish history. So if you want a meticulous authoritiative account, this may well be your resource. One can't say it is a fun or an easy read. The subect matter precludes the former, and the sheer weight of detail precludes the latter.

I would not myself recommend it to a first time reader on this subject; having approached it as such myself I found it really quite a struggle and had to go off and get some background elsewhere to put me in context, after I spent the first hundred pages or so feeling my head was spinning. However I gather from other reviews that if you are less lamentably ignorant on the subject than I was, it is much less of a struggle; so if you know a bit about the subject chances are you will revel in it. And to be fair once I did get a bit settled I found it a hugely informative, if deptressing, book.

My one niggle (and this may be my ignorance, but the Lit Rev reviewer seemed to think this too) - there seemed to be something of a pro-Republican bias. All the republican outrages seemed to be accepted as legitimate revenge for earlier horrors by the rightists; but a rightist outrage, even where it was expressly said to be in revenge (and where Preston accepted such a republican attack had taken place, which he often does not, sometimes without explaining why) never seems to be accepted as justified revenge ...
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48 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking and meticulous, 7 Mar 2012
By 
Skateraw (Muchalls, Portlethen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
Paul Preston's 'The Spanish Holocaust' is ground-breaking, meticulous and one of the most important, riveting and most chilling studies of the consequences of the Spanish Civil War published to date, an opinion and endorsement which I have absolutely no hesitation in expressing both as a researcher on the subject myself and the publisher of the English-language edition of Peirats (whose publication in English, incidentally, Paul Preston helped finance!) -- and as a friend and occasional publisher of Diego Camacho (Abel Paz). The book is of even greater relevance today in view of the recent decision by the Partido Popular cabinet to abolish the Office for Victims of the Civil War and Dictatorship and, in all likelihood, begin their long-promised move to repeal the Historical Memory Law. Fortunately, Preston's 'The Spanish Holocaust' will stand as a monument to the untold thousands of victims of Francoism and as an ever-present reproach to those who would deny them - and those who honour their memory -justice. Thoroughly recommended and essential reading for everyone - and not just students and aficionados of the SCW. - Stuart Christie
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horror Upon Horror..., 24 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain (Kindle Edition)
I always knew that General Franco and his merry men were monsters, but until I read this book, I was unaware of the scale of their crimes. From the illegal uprising against a legally elected government to the horrendous atrocities against civilians, one's blood chills and chills again at the horrors perpetrated by the Francoist forces. The initial Nationalist advance, until checked at Madrid, saw mass executions and sexual abuse of women captives so horrific that even right-wing foreign correspondents embedded with Franco's forces were having nervous breakdowns. Even Mussolini was shocked at the scale of the violence; even the German government protested at the way Franco's good Catholic soldiery treated the Spanish Protestants. Read this book and understand what motivated so many foreign volunteers to go and fight in Spain in the International Brigades. Read and wonder how Franco lasted for so long.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and the definitive history., 12 May 2013
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Paperback)
Very, very comprehensive and unbiased. Be warned, even if you thought you knew a lot about the Spanish civil war and its consequences for the Spanish people, you will be shocked by the sheer numbers (not just numbers - many are named and the specific circumstances of their deaths recounted) and the pervasive brutal thinking behind many of the executions and atrocities set out. Also, I had not realised the enormity and violence of the repression that continued for so long AFTER the war had ended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spanish Tragedy, 28 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Spanish Holocaust (Hardcover)
Hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated during and after the Civil War, the majority by Franco's pitiless cadres of crazed fascists, Moroccan legionnaires, and ordinary Spaniards drunk on right-wing ideology and virulent anti-left wing propaganda. The Catholic church too played a pivotal role in establishing legitimacy for the murderous excesses perpetrated in the name of 'cleansing' and `purification'. As Preston states at the outset, Franco alongside his mad Generals Mola and de Llano, were only ever interested in conducting a war of total annihilation against an evil Marxist-Jewish-Masonic conspiracy that they believed lay behind the democratic Republic. Theirs was a fight for the true soul of Spain in which even the slightest dissent or deviation from their cause was viewed as treason, and anyone with left-wing sympathies regarded as either pathologically insane or sub-human. Thus the 'red scum' that infested the villages town and cities across the vast country were hunted down and systematically destroyed. Franco's project was the genocide of an entire political class.

Preston gives due weight to the war crimes perpetrated in the Republican areas - but these, even in their ferocity and scale, pale into insignificance compared to the vast horrors of the advancing fascist columns in places like Badojoz, Talavera de la Reina, Teruel and countless others in Asturias, the Basque country and Catalunya.

It was, by the author's admission, a painfully difficult book to write. It is also an intensely harrowing book to read. The scale and unrelenting suffering described is numbing in its effect: page after page of brutality, cruelty and unimaginable contempt for humanity is here laid out in forensic detail. Pregnant women bayoneted, brothers tied up and burnt alive in the village square, a little lad whose name was name Lenin, bludgeoned to death against a wall in front of his mother, ordinary moments in the rebels' onward march to the Redemption of the Fatherland.

The title - including the word Holocaust - is controversial: does this terrible period in 20th century history warrant such an emotive epithet? I think there would be few readers who get to the end of these pages without agreeing that there is ample justification.

This is wonderful piece of scholarship which it is to be hoped may go some way to reclaiming Spain's modern history from the dustbin of fascist lies and propaganda. Let nobody be under any illusion. Franco was not a soft dictator. The atrocities committed by left and right were not roughly equal and proportionate. And reclaiming the truth is not, as Spain's contemporary right-wing apologists argue, raking over the ashes, but a necessary act in the still painful process of reconciliation and healing. Read this book and weep, as I did. But read it nevertheless.
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