This can be recommended as a concise, clearly argued summary of Franco's rise to prominence and his exercise of power. It makes the point that his apparent initial reluctance to throw himself into the 1936 uprising may have simply been a reflection of his desire to be top dog rather than just another conspirator. It is perhaps a little thin on the profound social and economic changes that undercut Franco's regime from the 1960s onwards, but then such issues aren't really central to a "Profiles in Power"-type book. Very good for newcomers to modern Spanish history.
I really enjoyed this book. Like the other 'Profiles in Power' books, the focus is on the political, social and military events that shaped Franco's reign, without too much personal/biographical detail. If you are looking for a comprehensive biography of the Caudillo, this book is NOT for you. Pick up Preston's 'Franco' instead. If however you are looking for a narrative on the political and military career of Franco, then this book is perfect. Clear and concise, the author never allows her personal opinion to cloud her professional judgement, and in the end the reader is left to make his/her own mind up as to whether Franco was a stabilising 'controller' in a Spain rife with political upheaval or just another right wing dictator obsessed with his own power. The book shows that Franco certainly was obsessed with his own power but Spain was not ruled through fear as Stalin's Russia or Pol Pot's Cambodia was. A great book!