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Still No Consensus,
This review is from: The Spanish Civil War (Paperback)
The original research for this book was back in the 1960's. When published it was rightly regarded as a blockbuster despite leaning heavily in favour of the Republicans and, together with Gabriel Jackson, proclaiming the communists as allies in the fight against fascism. The Cold War played a major, if unspoken role, in the writings about the Spanish civil war at this time.
Unfortunately, the book is now woefully dated. The opening up of local and national archives on the death of Franco, and the release of masses of documents from soviet archives in the past decade has greatly reduced the value of this book.
There is still no consensus view of the civil war. Arguments rage as to whether it was a contest between Christianity and atheism, or fascism and communism, or capitalism and socialism. The bitterness engendered by the war still lingers in Spain.
What is clear is that the war was savage, bloody and protracted. It was also the biggest example of anticlerical violence in modern times. Atrocities on both sides were despicable involving nuns and other innocent civilians. Anarchists and released criminals massacred thousands as did the adherents of Franco's forces.
The atrocities were akin to those inflicted by the Jacobins in the late 18th century.
Today one needs to read the works of, for example, Payne, Beevor, and Preston, if you want to get a more up to date version of events. Even these and other recent books and articles have not quelled the disputes among historians as to the causes and consequences of this simply dreadful war. Preston has even called what happened a 'holocaust'.
Two other things are worth mentioning with the release of the archives mentioned above. Firstly, the military aid given by the Soviet Union to the Republicans was far less than was previously thought-and much of it was of very poor quality. Stalin in fact was concerned to see that the Soviet Union did not get too heavily involved for fear of antagonising Hitler. Secondly, the view, commonplace in the 60's and 70's, that the civil war was in fact the beginning of the Second World War is now largely discounted by leading authorities in this field.
Finally, the depth of ignorance about this terrible conflict that took place only 2 hours flying time from this country never fails to amaze this reviewer. In, for example, school history curricula it hardly rates a mention.
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Initial post: 26 Apr 2013 17:37:19 BDT
Interestingly, Payne's latest book on the Civil War states that the tanks and planes supplied by the Russians were superior to those supplied by the Germans.
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