The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012
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‘The Spanish civil war is, of course, one of the best-chronicled events in modern European history. But Preston goes well beyond previous historians in his magisterial but chillingly meticulous record of slaughter systematically tearing down the self-serving left-wing and (especially) right-wing myths about the conflict…. Exhaustively researched and masterfully written… the result is a book of extraordinary moral and emotional power, a classic of historical scholarship and a deeply affecting record of man’s inhumanity to man.’ Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
'A harrowing and moving account of the immense terror and enormous atrocities, especially perpetrated by General Franco's followers, during and after the Spanish Civil War, meticulously researched and superbly written by an outstanding historian.' Ian Kershaw
'Only in democratic Spain, with the end of censorship and the opening up of archives and mass graves, have Spanish historians been able to provide us with the truth: that the Right killed about three times as many people as the Left. It is upon their research that Preston has based his meticulously compiled account… Paul Preston has done his subject proud.' The Spectator
'Monumental, rigorous and unflinching… important and opportune in ways that reach far beyond the purely academic… Preston’s contribution is a major one, both in tracing the fundamentalist origins of the military coup that unleashed the killing and in reconstructing its complex consequences… Preston’s study is history as a public good. A substitute for the truth and reconciliation process that has not taken place in Spain.' The Independent
'An angry, scholarly revision of the civil war and the subsequent years of Franco’s dictatorship.' The Daily Telegraph
'Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand Spain and its recent history… Preston’s excellent, spine-chilling narrative explains just how deep Franco’s early investment in terror was… this is an invaluable book that does not shrink from even the harshest of truths.' The Guardian
'Paul Preston’s account of the torture and slaughter of thousands of civilians and captives during and after the Spanish civil war vividly describes events that we would unhesitatingly describe as war crimes or crimes against humanity… drawing on meticulous research over many years, Preston… leaves no room for doubt that the events he describes were… crimes so appalling that they negate our humanity. He wept at times as he prepared what he calls ‘an extremely painful book to write’. Readers will weep too.' The Financial Times
'Chillingly powerful… made compelling through the energy of the writing and the author’s novelistic eye for detail… the ultimate importance of Preston’s relentless and impeccable research is a reminder of the evil unleashed by Franco.' The Literary Review
'Anyone who supposes that Franco’s regime was only mildly despotic and repressive should read this wonderful book about a horrible subject.' Daily Express
'Paul Preston is the outstanding scholar of Spain's Civil War, and The Spanish Holocaust is unquestionably his opus magnus. For the first time, the horror of the Spanish conflict has been placed in its appropriate historical context. As documented by Preston in this moving, brilliantly rendered account, Spain was not only the scene-setter for World War Two, but also the proving ground for the campaigns of mass-murder that became its ghastly hallmark. A deeply important, powerful work of history.' Jon Lee Anderson
'Preston’s knowledge is deep and encyclopaedic, and his status as the foremost historian of this period is incontestable. This book amply corroborates that accolade… for sheer depth of knowledge, this book will stay on the shelves of those interested in this historical period for years to come. The Spanish Holocaust is the culmination of a truly outstanding career. To his peerless scholarship, Preston adds dynamic prose and a deeply humane feeling for those caught in events they did nothing to deserve or to bring about.' Times Higher Education
About the Author
Paul Preston CBE is Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History and Director of the Cañada Blanch Centre of Contemporary Spanish Studies at LSE. He was lecturer at the University of Reading and Professor of History at Queen Mary University. In 2006 he was awarded the International Ramon Llull Prize by the Catalan Government. Among his many works are 'The Triumph of Democracy in Spain' (1986), 'Franco: A Biography' (1993), 'A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War' (1996), 'Comrades' (1999), 'Doves of War: Four Women in Spain' (2002), 'Juan Carlos' (2004) and 'The Spanish Civil War' (2006). He was decorated by Spanish King Juan Carlos a 'Comendador de la Orden de Mérito Civil' and in 2007, the 'Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica'.
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Top Customer Reviews
Here I am 63 years later commenting on a book which should have been written many years ago but nobody had the courage to do so. During the several years that I lived and worked in the country and during the many visits that I have made since 1949 people were very reluctant to talk about the Civil War to me or my wife. One was aware of it, of course, but the circumstances and reasons for what happened seem to be so impossible to obtain that Spaniards seem to suffer from collective amnesia no matter which "side" they or their families were on. Of course, not many Spaniards who were involved at the time are now alive so first hand accounts are hard to come by. It seems that the experts on the period are either British - Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston, for example - or Irish, Ian Gibson, of course.
The Spanish Holocaust is not a book to be read for pleasure nor, indeed, quickly. Preston goes to pains to record the atrocities committed by both sides - it is a pity that at times he seems to want to register the "score" with the Nationalists clearly "winning" but he also places much emphasis on the equally insidious acts of the anarchist movement and the involvement of opportunistic criminal elements. What is very clear, and very disappointing to me as a Catholic, is that the Church took sides with the Nationalists and justified much of the mayhem - maybe the Church in the Basque Country was an exception.Read more ›
However, its strengths are also a glaring weakness. Other reviews have complained of a narrative that chimes with my own perceptions. For example, Preston goes into great detail about the atrocities visited upon a town or village in a particular region. This can go on for page after page ad infinity.
The process is then repeated for other towns and villages. I agree with others that this is history that deserves to be told, but as I mentioned above, despite its strengths, this is not one for the layman, but one for the student of this era.
I would not myself recommend it to a first time reader on this subject; having approached it as such myself I found it really quite a struggle and had to go off and get some background elsewhere to put me in context, after I spent the first hundred pages or so feeling my head was spinning. However I gather from other reviews that if you are less lamentably ignorant on the subject than I was, it is much less of a struggle; so if you know a bit about the subject chances are you will revel in it. And to be fair once I did get a bit settled I found it a hugely informative, if deptressing, book.
My one niggle (and this may be my ignorance, but the Lit Rev reviewer seemed to think this too) - there seemed to be something of a pro-Republican bias. All the republican outrages seemed to be accepted as legitimate revenge for earlier horrors by the rightists; but a rightist outrage, even where it was expressly said to be in revenge (and where Preston accepted such a republican attack had taken place, which he often does not, sometimes without explaining why) never seems to be accepted as justified revenge ...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Meticulously researched and written by Franco biographer and expert on the history of Spain, Professor Paul Preston, this is required reading for anybody interested in the Spanish... Read morePublished 4 months ago by william earl
This was the last (of 4) books that I have read by Paul Preston on Spain.(The previous were the Spanish Civil War, Franco, Juan Carlos, and now Spanish Holocaust). Read morePublished 4 months ago by bluesman
Have only read the prologue so far,it will be a heavy read but will persevere as I would like to know more on the subjectPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Highlights the horrors of this most unforgiving of civil wars. This is not a history of any of the campaigns but the horrors inflicted by both sides on each other. Read morePublished 11 months ago by J. Rutley
Manuel Fraga, founder of the Partido Popular, wouldn't have liked this book. He said that "amnesty means amnesia". Read morePublished 11 months ago by Paul Davies
Although the subject matter is important the writing is very repetitive.Published 14 months ago by Chelsea69