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The Betrothed of Death: The Spanish Foreign Legion During the Rif Rebellion, 1920-1927 (Contributions in Comparative Colonial Studies) Hardcover – 30 Jan 2001

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood Press (30 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313306974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313306976
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 867,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A very well done, very readable treatment of the early history of one of the most formidable fighting forces of the twentieth century. The Betrothed of Deathr is very detailed, refreshingly even-handed, and well documented. Descriptions of battles are quite clear, and there are a number of excellent word portraits of some of the most interesting soldiers of the century, including not only Francisco Franco, but also such remarkable characters as Jose Millan Astray, Albert Castro Girona, and many others not well known outside of Spain. Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in colonial warfare, the Spanish Civil War, in which many of the legionaries would rise to high rank, and elite forces."-The NYMAS Newsletter

"This chronological narrative fills a gap in the history of the Spanish Foreign Legion."-Choice

"Alvarez takes the reader to new ground with his excellent look at the Spanish Foreign Legion's first campaigns in Africa."-Star-Banner

"Jose Alvarez should be commended for tackling such a difficult subject....more entertainingly written than any of the many plodding semi-official histories in Spanish."-The International History Review

"Jose Alvarez's book provides the most detailed history in English concerning the establishment of the Spanish Foreign Legion and its role in Spain's "pacification" effects in its Moroccan protectorate during the 1920s."-The Journal of Military History

?This chronological narrative fills a gap in the history of the Spanish Foreign Legion.?-Choice

?Alvarez takes the reader to new ground with his excellent look at the Spanish Foreign Legion's first campaigns in Africa.?-Star-Banner

?Jose Alvarez should be commended for tackling such a difficult subject....more entertainingly written than any of the many plodding semi-official histories in Spanish.?-The International History Review

?Jose Alvarez's book provides the most detailed history in English concerning the establishment of the Spanish Foreign Legion and its role in Spain's "pacification" effects in its Moroccan protectorate during the 1920s.?-The Journal of Military History

?A very well done, very readable treatment of the early history of one of the most formidable fighting forces of the twentieth century. The Betrothed of Deathr is very detailed, refreshingly even-handed, and well documented. Descriptions of battles are quite clear, and there are a number of excellent word portraits of some of the most interesting soldiers of the century, including not only Francisco Franco, but also such remarkable characters as Jose Millan Astray, Albert Castro Girona, and many others not well known outside of Spain. Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in colonial warfare, the Spanish Civil War, in which many of the legionaries would rise to high rank, and elite forces.?-The NYMAS Newsletter

"Alvarez has written one of the best books available on a twentieth century European military unit. He tells the fascinating story of the Spanish Foreign Legion in its wars in North Africa. It is an incredible tale of military values, courage, and warfare."-James W. Cortada Editor, Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Civil War

"Jose Alvarez's The Betrothed of Death: The Spanish Foreign Legion during the Rif Rebellion 1920-1927 will be welcomed by scholars of the Iberian Peninsula. Those interested in 20th century Spanish history will profit from the detailed analysis of the origins of the Spanish Foreign Legion and the role played by this remarkable institution in Spain's fraught relations with the protectorate in Morocco and in the development of Spanish domestic politics."-Judith Keene Department of History The University of Sydney

"Although often neglected by military historians, Spanish Morocco merits an important place in the history of modern colonial conflict and counter-insurgency. As Jose Alvarez demonstrates, during the 1920s the Spanish Foreign Legion played a crucial role in the fighting in North Africa. His book covers the fascinating early history of this very colorful fighting force, providing readers with valuable insight into its composition, organization, and military methods and feats."-Geoffrey Jensen Visiting Senior Lecturer Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Assistant Professor of History University of Southern Mississippi

About the Author

JOSE E. ALVAREZ is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Houston-Downtown. Born in Marianao, Cuba, he came to the United States in 1961. He is a member of the Society for Military History and the Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very tight, factual presentation of events. This leads to the material being a bit monotonous at times. The correlation between text and maps leaves a lot to be desired. If you are really keen, buy an ordnace map for northern morrocco to follow whats happenning. However I could find few books on this subject in english. This book was written to celebrate the eighty years since the legion was founded and relates those early years of formation and success. If anyone finds a full history of the legion let me know.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 3 Mar. 2001
By Richard de Triquet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The little known Spanish Foreign Legion forged a well deserved reputation for valor and professionalism during Spain's early 20th century struggle in North Africa. Unfortunately, very little has been written in English about this extraordinary force. Dr. Alvarez has written a superb account of the formation and early history of the Legion capturing the unique Spanish elan of both its leaders and men. Here was a tough, truly elite military force in the best Spanish tradition. This book fills an important gap in military history which I hope will encourage other historians to explore the role the Legion played later during the Civil war.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a solid work 25 Oct. 2004
By W M - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Part unit history and part campaign account, this is a solid, if uninspiring work. But it's a welcome addition if only because an English-language history of the Spanish Foreign Legion has been long overdue. Spain's campaigns in Morocco are rarely mentioned in the literature on African colonial conflicts. Why? It's not as if Spain was a newcomer to Africa: the city of Ceuta in Morocco had been a Spanish possession since the 16th century.

Francisco Franco, who began his military career in the Legion, emerges as a dour, serious figure dedicated to the task at hand. Those interested in the Spanish Civil War, especially fans of Nationalist Spain, will enjoy his portrait here, and perhaps understand how such a man achieved so much. Franco's alleged involvement in the plot to overthrow the "wet" Primo de Rivera in 1923, described here, foreshadowed the events of 1936.

Incidentally, readers of Christopher Balfour's recent work, The Deadly Embrace, marketed as an expose of Spain's use of poison gas against the Riffian tribesmen, may be interested to note that there are plenty of references to it here. The use of poison gas by Spain may be deplorable, but hardly shocking. Although war can bring out the best in men, it also brings out the worst. Perhaps Spain's decision to resort to gas may seem understandable in light of the atrocities carried out by the Riffian insurgents against Spanish civilians, particularly at towns like Nador (pp.51-52).

The Spanish are a proud, civilized people with remarkable achievements to their name, of which the Reconquista and the Conquest of the New World are just two examples. The West owes Spain a considerable debt of gratitude. Although the military reputation of Spain has suffered much in the last century, the Legion, as one of the world's elite forces, is an apt reminder of the former grandeur. Viva La Legion!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY DETAILED, METICULOUSLY RESEARCHED HISTORY. 30 April 2001
By David Crist, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dr Alverez has written an extremely detailed, comprehensive account of an important unit and era in Spanish military history. This is, by far, the best account of the Spanish Foreign Legion in English, and his worked does much to bring their story to a wider public.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars El Tercio 4 Mar. 2002
By Jose A. Royo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book about the first years of the Spanish Foreign Legion, also known as El Tercio (for Spanish infantry units which ruled European battlefields in the XVI and XVII centuries). It catches the spirit of the first Banderas (batallions), which were the fer de lance of the Spanish army in the Spanish Maroc Protectorate in the first quarter of the XX century. Afterwards, it took an active part in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), in the Russian front in the Second World War, where it fought together with the Wermacht, as well as in the Spanish Sahara in the late fifties.
Currently, and since Spain does not have colonies any more, the Spanish Foreign Legion is deployed in Spain, divided into four Tercios (regiment-type units) stationed in Ceuta, Melilla (two Spanish cities in northern Africa), Ronda and Almeria. It has seen action in Kosovo, and some companies will be probably sent to Afgahnistan in the near future. Always the crack unit of the Spanish army, the Legion is considered one of the best (if not the best) units within the NATO, comparing favourably with famous units such as the British SAS in field exercises and peace (?) missions in former Yugoslavia.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding History of the Spanish Foreign Legion 28 May 2011
By Scott Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really have nothing much to add to the other reviews of this book. Each review notes relevant points about Alvarez's work. What I would caution against, however, is not reading this book because you fear it will be too detailed on certain military aspects. Yes, it is detailed and Alvarez certainly put in some serious research hours to write it, but he clusters his details, generally toward the end of each chapter. I'm certainly not a military history buff, so I would tend to skim over those paragraphs. Still, it was interesting to note the consistently high casualty rate among the Legion's officers, including its founder, the remarkable Millan Astray.

Regarding the work itself, Alvarez has written what I believe should be a model for how historians should write books. He states in his preface that "The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader to the origins of the Spanish Foreign Legion..." He notes the topics the book will cover: Why the Legion was created, how it was different and similar to its French counterpart, how it was organized within the broader army, how the Legion won back land lost in the disaster at Annual, the close relationships that were forged within the Legion by young officers who would eventually revolt to save Spain in 1936, as well as the personalities of the founding officer corps. And that is exactly what he does. I love it! He ends each chapter with a brief, helpful summary that reviews the major themes of the chapter.

Alvarez is an excellent writer and this book is well-organized. His notes are impressive as well. If you are interested in Spanish history you have to get this book. You will not be disappointed.
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