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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002556340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002556347
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘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'.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an unabashed Hispanophile - I first went to Spain in 1949. My father had an involvement with Harveys of Bristol and we drove to visit sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera from Gibraltar, my mother's childhood home. It was the first foreign country I ever visited. I felt at home immediately.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
With this book Paul Preston has produced the most compelling account of the Spanish Civil War to date, presenting in unflinching detail its causes, its chaos, its carnage, and its consequences. Preston's limitless erudition is offered up in an elegant prose that refuses to sanitize or sensationalize a period marked by unspeakable atrocities that nevertheless must be spoken of. The traumatic tales told in this incredible memorial to human suffering will make the reader lay it down from time to time - as its author had to do in the writing of it. As someone whose father fought for the International Brigades in Spain, and was captured at Jarama in 1937 and imprisoned at Salamanca, I have a personal connection to the conflict, but this is not a book about the International Brigades, or heroism, or one that shies away from looking long and hard at the despicable violence on all sides. Preston's clear-eyed study will make readers cry, but his utterly unsentimental analysis of war crimes, while never resorting to easy morality or high-minded condemnation, is a salutary lesson in understanding one of the most vicious episodes in modern history. This is research in the interests of recovery of memory, and that's arguably among the most important roles that scholarship can fill.
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Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a general, all-purpose introduction to the Spanish Civil War, this book is not for you. Dense, meticulously researched, and a compelling narrative, The Spanish holocaust is historical scholarship at its best.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Paul Preston's 'The Spanish Holocaust' is ground-breaking, meticulous and one of the most important, riveting and most chilling studies of the consequences of the Spanish Civil War published to date, an opinion and endorsement which I have absolutely no hesitation in expressing both as a researcher on the subject myself and the publisher of the English-language edition of Peirats (whose publication in English, incidentally, Paul Preston helped finance!) -- and as a friend and occasional publisher of Diego Camacho (Abel Paz). The book is of even greater relevance today in view of the recent decision by the Partido Popular cabinet to abolish the Office for Victims of the Civil War and Dictatorship and, in all likelihood, begin their long-promised move to repeal the Historical Memory Law. Fortunately, Preston's 'The Spanish Holocaust' will stand as a monument to the untold thousands of victims of Francoism and as an ever-present reproach to those who would deny them - and those who honour their memory -justice. Thoroughly recommended and essential reading for everyone - and not just students and aficionados of the SCW. - Stuart Christie
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Format: Hardcover
Nobody has written about the Spanish Civil War quite like Paul Preston. He is the "go to" historian in both English and Spanish.

Preston's `The Spanish Civil War' is already the definitive book for any antifascist who wants to understand the tragedy that was the fall of Spanish Republic. Throughout his substantial cannon of work he has eloquently portrayed the sacrifices that men and women from across the world made to fight Franco's brutal fascist regime and the shadowy and sinister support he received from Hitler and Mussolini, that was criminally ignored by the rest of Europe.

`The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain' is Preston's tour de force and possibly even surpasses his unparalleled biography of Franco to become his most important contribution to our understanding of 20th century Spain. As ever, Preston has sought to re tell the events, massacres and heroism through the eyes and memories of the lives of those who suffered most. The tragic tales of men and women who took up arms against a military machine that wanted to crush all vestiges of democracy, humanity and secularism.

The primary premise of this 700 page work is that Franco's belief in a Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy resulted in a conscious and systematic attempt to eradicate all Republicans. Preston places the figure of murdered Republicans as high as 200,000 which certainly justifies his use of the term Holocaust. Franco's fanaticism even allowed the Nazis to test drop their bombs on the Spanish people. To its shame, the outside world refused to come to their aid.
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