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Malaga Burning: An American Woman's Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War Hardcover – 1 Feb 1998

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Pythia Press (1 Feb. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964873613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964873612
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,559,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

The poet and wife of Gerald Brenan describes their experiences in Spain during the Civil War.


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 18 Dec. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one womans very personal experience of how her life was affected by the Spanish civil war. More poetic than informative, it is a vivid encounter of life & death, fear & courage & the community spirit in small town Spain.
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Format: Hardcover
From the perspective of one who lives in Spain I think this little book is just brilliant.You get a unique feeling for what it was like for foreigner, but one who was much admired and loved by her neighbours, to live here during the civil war.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As it is now out of print I had to wait for it from America. It was as described, good condition and didn't take too long being delivered. Very pleased.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Death's other kingdom" 14 Jun. 2001
By Stephen Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The American poet Gamel Woolsey was born at the turn of the century in Charleston, South Carolina, where she spent her childhood before moving to New York and a career on the Shakespearean stage in the 1920s. In 1930, she met the British writer, Gerald Brenan, married him, and moved to his home in Churriana, in southern Spain. Although both Brenan and Woolsey sought to be remembered foremost as poets, today they are far better known for their prose works -- Brenan, especially, is recognized as one of the great Hispanists of the 20th century.
Woolsey's remarkable book, "Death's Other Kingdom" (1938?), is far less known than her husband's writings, but for no good reason. Fortunately, it has now been edited, given a new title ("Malaga Burning"), and made available for the first time in the United States by Brenan's one-time neighbor Zalin Grant, who rightly acclaimed it one of the best memoirs of the Spanish Civil War. Grant has also happily removed the mysogynistic preface by Woolsey's brother-in-law that appeared in the British edition.
"Malaga Burning" is Woolsey's eyewitnees account of the first seven weeks of the war in Málaga and its outskirts. Among Civil War memoirs it is unique, for it is one of only a handful written by women and, in addition, it moves beyond the "great events" of the war and the experiences of foreigners, to focus, instead, on the agony of ordinary Spaniards of all classes and political persuasions. Sandra Mardenfeld criticised the book for this in the "New York Times Book Review", saying that Woolsey "provides little education about the war; rather her story captures the cruelties of humankind without offering much context." Ironically, the author would agree 100%.
Woolsey is decidedly apolitical. She portrays all groups -- anarchists, communists, fascists, even refugee Englishwomen sipping tea in Gibraltar -- as equally inclined to ferocity and (with the exception of the latter group!) brutal murder. One of the central parts of the book narrates her struggle to help a Málaga businessman escape death at the hands of the anarchists. Yet Woolsey is not inclined to sympathize with the fascists -- at night, she can see the smoke and flames rising from Málaga from her home several miles off, nationalist bombs bursting over civilians' heads, shattering their world to ruins. She is also critical of the many journalists who flocked to Spain to scoop up stories about "anarchist atrocities" and the "Red terror". In fact, she coined the term "pornography of violence", noting how effete Englishmen and anti-communists seemed to enjoy reading horror stories about raped nuns and wealthy families burned alive in their homes, stories often made up to satisfy this very lust for exploiting other people's nightmares.
Obviously, the book isn't a "pleasant" read, but it's an incredibly important one. Woolsey's vivid writing makes for emotionally engaging, profoundly stirring book that no one who is interested in Spanish or European history should miss. 5 stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witness of feeling 25 Jan. 2004
By Mark C. Aldrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Close to seventy years after the events, the Spanish Civil War continues to stir the deepest passions. Gamel Woolsey's memoir of what it was like in a the village of Churriana, just outside Málaga, when the war broke out in July of 1936 is a fascinating account that describes with great feeling how individuals suffered and had their lives overtaken by forces beyond their control.
This book was originally published in England in 1938 under the title "Death's Other Kingdom" but was never published in the US until this edition, newly titled, was published under the editorship of Zalin Grant.
The book is very short on factual details and makes surprisingly few references to actual events beyond the walls of the farm house she shared with husband Gerald Brennan. Yet, she captures with sensitivity the uncertainty, anxiety and absolute terror that overtook Spain at that time. (Read this along with Orwell's classic "Homage to Catalonia", written around the same time and Ramon Sender Barayon's "A Death in Zamora.)
Woolsey's memoir is best for what it tells us about the basic division that tore Spain apart and how ordinary people in a small village suffered the consecuences.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Spanish Civil War Buffs, by fermed 27 Mar. 2002
By Fernando Melendez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a strange book: it is a gentle and lyrical work of a poet on the subject of one of the bloodiest episodes in Spanish history, a history notorious for its violence. It is a book a people capable of great kindness and of gentle behavior; but it is also about the hinted violence and horror produced by a folk seeped in a history of brutality who turn upon each other.
The Spanish Civil War, from abroad, still resonates with the romanticism and the dashing braveness of foreigners is Spain; strangers of all types played in this Spanish sandbox of blood and terror. The literature that emerged from the war was perforce partisan, Manichean, judgmental. This little book by Gamel Woolsey made its appearance in 1939 under the title of DEATH'S OTHER KINGDOM, and promptly vanished from sight in the shadow of Orwell's HOMAGE TO CATALONIA and the turbulence that preceded WWII. Now it has been published again under this new title, and rightly so, for it is a delicate and non-partisan narrative, such as only a poet would produce. Those who have very strong opinions about the war and its players will at first be disappointed by the book's apparent blandness (at least I was); but after a day or two, the true horrors that are only hinted in the book will dominate one's consciousness and perhaps illuminate more clearly the nature of the conflict.
There are a few objectionable efforts at translation, unaccetable in these days of easy information: the ancient Castillian song "Esta si es siega de vida" ("This, now, is the reaping of life..." is translated as "This, this is the sowing of life..." rather entirely changing the meaning and making the poem pointless. An additional linguistic failure is in the mention of the peculiar Spanish verb used to denote that someone is wearing new clothes for the first time: "estrenar" which appears in the book as "estreñar" (meaningless but perilously close to "estreñir," which means "to constipate").
Despite those minor faults, this is a haunting book that stays with you, and certainly an obligatory read for Spanish Civil War aficionados, of which there are surprisingly many in this country.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Malaga Burning: An American Woman's Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War 18 Jun. 2010
By Angel Diez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a very naive and superficial account of the horrors that happened during the first few months of the Spanish Civil War. The author, Gamel Woolsey demonstrates that she is priomordially a poet, since she can find beauty in just about any event, regardless of its horror. The book very poorly describes the real social and religious traditions that triggered such a tragic event. Murderers and rapists are described as "terrorists", while anarchists are generaly described as "nice people".
The book attempts to describe the servility and vulgarity of Spanish locals as well as the aura of "untouchables" created around Ms. Woolsey, husband and other foreigners around Malaga. Bombs may fall near by, but please do not disturb my 5:00 p.m. tea!. At the end, the book leaves the reader with a feeling of superficiality and lack of analytical skill, a book without compassion for the people suffering and for those who were victims of utter brutality.
Not worth spending a minute on this book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL 7 Dec. 2005
By Capt. Lou Costello - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This account of the Spanish Civil war was written more about the incidents involving people at the small town of Malaga where poet and writer Gamel was living with her husband. It dwells on the savage cruelty that humans are capable of more than the political situation between the Republicans and the Communists. This is very moving, sad, and punches straight at the soul. I highly recommend this book as one of the very best ever written on the bloody Spanish Civil War.
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