The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Paperback – 24 May 2007
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exhaustive and admirably clear account. (THE SUNDAY TIMES)
the definitive book on the subject. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
The bestselling author of STALINGRAD and BERLIN: THE DOWNFALL on the Spanish Civil War, drawing on masses of newly discovered material from the Spanish, Russian and German archives.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The account is arranged in forty relatively short chapters in seven sections. I found it straightforward to follow. The war did not begin on July 18 1936: a short early section traces division and discord to the 15th century. It did not end on 29 March 1939: the aftermath is reviewed to the death of the dictator. A final chapter offers his take on the big questions and the “what ifs”.
The meat of the book is the war itself.
This was a vicious conflict – civil wars are. The author does not feast on gory detail – he catalogues the toll in lives lost and livelihoods destroyed. He is at his best on the military war, especially its major battles.
The author makes sense of the forces on each side – anarchists, social democrats, Basques, Catalans and communists for the republic; Carlists, falangists and the officer class for Franco. He has been accused of bias, pro-republic and anti-Franco. However, the truth is that the victors exacted a very heavy price for defeat and – in a war where neither side was blameless – they spilt more innocent blood. The last twenty years have revealed concealed secrets and bodies.
Moreover, he does not spare the left. As the war continued, the republic lost its democratic legitimacy - centralization of command gave way to authoritarian rule. The machinations of the communists are skewered – both the PCE and their Soviet advisers.Read more ›
At times the events can be confusing and i found myself using the index to look back at the first references to some of the key people to help me keep track of who was who. The almost endless positioning, rivalries and hatreds which made for mini civil wars within the same sides, can make for confusing reading, as can the to and fro of the battles - but much less confusing than for the people at the time who lived through the madness.
This is a superb book which makes the complex events of the civil war relatively easy to follow. Of course at times, like any well written account of warfare and its almost inevitable atrocities, it is quite horrifying, and i found myself grateful for living in an age of relative peace. Long may that continue.
The author is clearly sympathetic to the cause of the Spanish Republic, but this does not stop him from being scathing about its failings, particularly its military ones. He is clear-sighted also about the atrocities of the Republicans but these pale in comparison with those of the Francoists, which were systematic and often chilling in their brutality. In one instance an American journalist was present when a fascist officer handed over to his troops two young girls. The officer "told him calmly that they would not survive more than four hours" (p. 92).
The Spanish Civil War prefigured the cataclysmic struggle of the Second World War, both in terms of the ideological conflicts and as well as the pitiless violence. Yet it is also a conflict which is important to understand in its own terms and for its influence on contemporary Spain and Europe. This is something that Beevor manages seemingly effortlessly. It is a great work of narrative history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not yet finished yet but excellently written, with pithy summaries of the main factors leading to the war and the different phases of the conflict and their implications in the... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Brian Crolwey
A magnificently balanced and interpretive account of a difficult and devastating conflictPublished 24 days ago by clorinda nickel
Very good it makes you think how a country can turn on it self and why the rest of the world stood by and did nothing to stop a despotPublished 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
The Battle for Spain is a very well researched book. However, it is also a complete bore to read. This took me back to the bad old days of history books that were very detailed but... Read morePublished 29 days ago by SydneyReader
Excellent book telling the complicated story of the tragedy of the fall of the republic in an intelligent manner.Published 2 months ago by edward s
Very good but a number of maps indicating troop movements and the geography of Spain would have been useful as the book assumes the reader is aware of the locations referred to and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by carol dryden
horrible -- nothing but a typical anglo saxon piece of right wing propaganda which ignores all significant activity and concentrates instead of parliamentary politics -- worth much... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. H. Studdert
The condition of the book is what scored the 3 stars. It is a former lending library edition & is in a fragile state; in that the pages are at risk of coming loose as I read the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by A Walker