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The Spanish Labyrinth: The Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War (Canto) Paperback – 25 Apr 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (25 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521398274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521398275
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

' … shows the expert, subtle-minded and sometimes cynically truthful, in his quest of what really has created modern Spain … careful, sympathetic and judicial'. Cyril Connolly The Observer

Book Description

Gerald Brenan's The Spanish Labyrinth, first published in 1990, has become the classic account of the background to the Spanish Civil War.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is widely thought of as the best introduction to the Spanish Civil War around. As well as charting the basic cycles of state ranging from Isabella to Franco, it also offers specific insights to the various factions competing within each area of Spain at any given time. For those who have not grappled with the political complexity of the early 20th century in Spain, this book provides an excellent (and not so superficial) historical insight into Anarchism, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Carlism, and the Falange. It also explains the allegiances of the POUM and PCE during the course of the war, and the equally complex make-up of Franco's grand coalition.
The earlier dictatorship of Primo de Rivero is also covered, and (uniquely) the Agrarian problem (essentially the crux of all Spanish politics in this period) is properly covered.
If there are to be criticisms of this work, then perhaps the racial generalisations and assumptions made of Spaniards feel somewhat dated, and feel odd when compared to the political correctness of today. Also, the use of "anarchic" and "anarchy" to mean chaos (which is not the same thing!) is unfotunate, given that the Anarchist movement in Spain came closer than has ever been seen to giving these words their true meaning. But these are mere trifles. As well as being a seminal historical study, this is also a wonderfully readable account of one of the most interesting periods in Spanish history.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The most perceptive, as well as the most beautifully written, account of the long-term social and political origins of the Spanish Civil War. Inevitably, in the three quarters of a century that have passed since its first appearance, later research in Spain and in the English-speaking world has modified some details of Brenan's account. Nevertheless, The Spanish Labyrinth remains essential reading and is a book to which, I often return.
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Format: Paperback
Few books I have read on the Spanish Civil War have lived up to my expectations, yet Gerald Brenan's classic account remains one of them. Nobody wishing to understand the war can avoid the complexities surrounding its causation specifically the internal questions. As such Brenan's account is a must for those students wishing to grasp the historical background of the conflict. The books is very well detailed and is structured excellently. Brenan is apt at contrasting the views of those social groups within Spain and showing how a period of consistent conflicts between these groups culminated in a civil war. His main strength clearly lies in his analysis and description of the condition of the working classes in Spain. This in part is due to Brenan's experiences in Spain, he was not an academic writing in a library, but someone who had frequented Spain throughout his life and as such understood the prevailing conditions extremely well. With this detailed chapters on the Anarchists, Socialists and Carlists are of great importance and will give the reader a solid understanding of such important groups.
Perhaps the most important chapter is his analysis of the agrarian question which from Brenan's point of view was the most decisive issue facing Spanish society in that period. There can be little doubt of its importance, and Brenan shows the conflict over the question very well, most notably the clash between the landowning classes and peasants. Such issues surrounding class are of vital importance for any understanding of the civil war and Brenan proves himself to be the most apt for detailing this. This in itself may seen strange given the first edition was published in 1943, yet it has not lost any of its original strength and remains an absolute must for those interested in not only the Spanish Civil War but Spanish history in general.
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Format: Paperback
This is a famous book and deservedly so. It's long, detailed and prejudiced but it's always readable and entertaining. The history of Spain leading up to the civil war is a complicated story but this book makes it understandable. I found it excellent.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Presents an interesting, and substantive contemporary work on the Spanish Civil War. As an historical text anybody looking to engage with the topic of the Spanish Civil War with a general background would benefit from reading this.

It does fall prey to the generalising racial stereotypes that were common to the time it was written, but, looking past these the book is still worth a read.
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