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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex history compellingly told, 13 Jan. 2010
This review is from: The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (Paperback)
The history of Spain has always been an incredibly complex one - As a nation state it has always been held together very tentatively. The peace has invariably been a fragile one - with seventeen autonmous regions proudly asserting their notional independence from Madrid, it is hardly conducive to unity.
But that has always been the problem with Spain, in some ways similiar to Italy's modern history with its various factions and regions pulling against each other. And it is with this back drop that Antony Beevor compiles a stunningly detailed account of the Spanish Civil War. No stone is left unturned in this investigation. Not only are all the key players handled with a depth and clarity that reveals Beevor at his very best, but the wealth of material researched is masterfully untangled from the mess of a war that the protaganists barely understood themselves.
It wasn't merely a case of Nationalists vs Republicans, but the many other factions that went under those banners - all pulling against each other, all seeking their own private glories at the expense of the national good.
Failure to act as a united force is what ultimately cost the Republic, every defeat - fuelled by crippling paranoia much like the Inqusition - was blamed on traitors, invariably from another faction within the Republican coalition. A house divided can never stand, and so it proved. With Hitler and Mussolini providing weapons, vehicles and Troops it was only a matter of time before the Republic fell - with only Stalin and the International Brigades to help - America, Britain and France all took a non - interventionist stance, refusing to send aid to what was ultimately a communist cause. This demurral by the Allied powers to help poses one of histories most compelling hypotheticals - if they had helped Spain defeat Franco and the Axis powers, would the Second World War have ever happened?
Beevor leaves us to ponder this and a War that was so convoluted - that even today it is not completely understood, but Beevor's The Battle for Spain, is an excellent place to start.
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