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on 17 March 2009
This book is good or at less has that solidity very own of British essays and works. Here in Spain, this books have great acceptation, as Spaniard people seems in very big need to reassure about his own worth in this world after so many centuries of decadence. In order to attain this security, favourable English books and authors are very appreciated here. Spain is, as I say, a country with a big inferiority complex.
But I'm afraid, as many of these books, the author sees a Spain triumphant mainly because he's a friend of Spain and Spanish costumes and people. Not all authors are, as not everybody tastes the same meal.
I'm Spanish, and I'm more pessimistic than Paul Preston, as I think democracy isn't consolidated here, after seeing his evolution during 30 years in my country. This is because Spain has a hard obstacle to become a full democracy: simply, the average Spaniard hasn't a democratic soul nor a democratic mind.
Yes we can have the letter of the constitution and the external forms, but common Spanish people is deeply authoritarian at hearth. If you scrape only slightly in his opinions, these delayed hot visceral Spanish temper arises briskly, excepting in a minority of Spaniards more educated, but they are only that: a minority. Spanish citizen votes every 4 years, yes, but in these interval, he's virtually a subject semi- enslaved by stupid, very usually, corrupted functionaries and politics. Here, social or civic associations are virtually non existent, and institutions as the ombudsman, a bitter parody. Yes: football and bullfight are good (sometimes at less), I would say indispensable as a an social opiate.
And so, you don't deceive: Spaniards doesn't like democracy very much, nor monarchy, in spite the massive, stupid propaganda from TV and "liberal" newspapers. Many, many people are as dumb, but they are truly nostalgic of Franco.
This is logical: in Spain never happened a French revolution, nor we have a Cromwell, nor here has been a really good scientific education (education and culture is a pure farce here, with -another time- some exceptions).
Of course, there are another regimes not democratic that made to work a country, but at less, it's necessary to recognize that.
This is very important to be aware, as I think the present world economical crisis has to probe very hardly the solidity of Spanish democracy. Then, we will see. I, of course, wish the best for all people, Spanish or not, but I will believe more in a democratic modern Spain when Spanish essays and works must be read in Britain or the USA.
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on 14 June 2001
Paul Preston has the ability to make recent history come to life. He wrote a highly readable account of the events during the transition to democracy in Spain. Yet, quality, detail and high standards of academic research, analysis and synthesis are never neglected. In a vivid account he describes the last period of the Francoist state, first under Carrero Blanco and then under Arias Navarro before proceeding to write in great detail and with astuteness the actual 'transition' under Suárez and Calvo Sotelo, including the infamous Tejero coup. Important topics such as application for EC and NATO membership and ETA terrorism are treated equally well. The book ends with the election of the PSOE government in October 1982. This is still the best English-language book available about the transition. Get it if you are interested!
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