The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge Paperback – 30 Jun 2016
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‘[Preston’s] economical style, together with a telling choice of quotes and mordant use of irony, serve his purpose admirably…it is founded upon a vast knowledge and will not easily be refuted.’ History Today
‘Not just a detailed description of events but a real interpretation of the causes and course of the war. By allowing the actors of the great Spanish drama to speak, he captures the dynamics of the civil war.’ La Stampa
‘Paul Preston’s book throws new, definitive light on the conflict.’ L’Unità
About the Author
Paul Preston is Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History at the LSE. He has frequently acted as a commentator on Spanish affairs on radio and television and in print in both Britain and Spain. His many books include ‘The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in Twentieth-Century Spain’, ‘Franco: A Biography’, ‘Doves of War: Four Women of Spain’ and ‘Juan Carlos’. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, was made a Comendador de la Orden de Mérito Civil by King Juan Carlos of Spain, and in 2000 was awarded a CBE.
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Preston makes it clear at the outset his sympathy with the attempts of the Spanish Republic to provide a better a better life for the poorer members of Spanish society, and he believes that the Nationalist victory of 1939 and Franco's dictatorship did not benefit Spain. Like Beevor, he is generally sympathetic to liberal Republicans, moderate Socialists and regional parties and against the more extreme left and to some extent the Communists. His frankness about what may appear bias enables the reader to make adjustments, unlike Thomas whose support for the Communists over Anarchist or Trotskyite group is presented as impartial. Preston's sympathies are based less on ideology than the actual experiences of those involved in the Civil war and the internal disputes within the Republican zone.
This is a compact, well written study with good illustrations.Read more ›
This is not a blow by blow account of the war. For that the newest Beevor work is probably better. Rather Preston takes a loosely narrative structure and uses it to examine the key themes produced by the conflict in a clear and perceptive manner. The initial chapters setting the context should be compulsory reading not just for those interested in the 1930's but for those who want to understand modern Spain. The divisions and splits apparent before 1930 still figure prominently today: the historic poverty of the rural south and west still shows in the fact today that these areas are hardest hit by "la crisa". The separatist tendencies of the Basques and Catalans similarily predate the Franco and Post Franco era.
The complexities of the political infighting of both right and especially left in the 1930's is an area that can confuse and make the period difficult to fathom. Preston does an excellent job of navigating the reader through the ebb and flo of the politics helped by a list of key figures and a glossary of key terms attached as appendii. I found his treatment of the international aspect of the war most illuminating. Not just the intervention of Italy and Germany but also in making the less obvious war aims of the USSR evident. Most of all he shows up the at best perfidious, at worst antagonistic attitude of France and especially Britain to the legitimate Republican government. Officially peddling non-intervention, this did little more than cloak indirect support for Franco and the nationalists.Read more ›
It provides a good overview of the civil war years, without the pain of going through dates, battles and all the detail that you may find on other history books. It does have a good index of references at the end though.Paul Preston's prose has such a good rithm that it feels almost like reading a novel.
A good recomendation for those that wish some general knowledge about the war. If you want something more detailed (with pictures, front evolution maps etc) you will need to go for a bigger volume.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I truly love this book. Paul Preston is one of the best writers in my opinion. For myself, who knew nothing on the subject of the Spanish Civil War, I feel that Paul has taught me... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent -I knew too little about this recent conflict, this well constructed book set me right. Preach it to realise how close we are falling into the trap of Fascism againPublished 6 months ago by Mr. G. Horsewood
Having recently bought a home a Spanish fishing village I am very keen to acquaint myself with the Spanish culture. It is clear that the Civil War still leaves many scars. Read morePublished 12 months ago by bluesman
Reading this book on the Civil War in Spain finally made me understand this complex conflict - at least, to a deeper level than I had previously, but I'm aware I have a long way to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Princess Anne
a clear exposition of events, immersive and very readable.Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer