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on 23 January 2017
As with Beevor's other excellent books, The Spanish Civil War offers a clear, concise history of such a tumultuous period. For anyone who wants to get a good overall picture of the war, cause, effect and sociopolitical turmoil that surrounds it but without the waffle, this is ideal.
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on 14 October 2014
One of the best books on the Spanish Civil War. From my perspective (I am Spanish) it is well-balanced (not biased): it is concise and based on facts. I am an admirer or Beevor's works and I can say that this book (written before all his famous books on Stanlingrad, the fall of Berlin) it is worth reading albeit probably not his best work.
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on 25 June 2017
Very good
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on 25 November 1999
A complex book on a complex subject This was an impulse buy from an airport bookstall. Prior to this read, the Spanish Civil War had meant little to me - a recollection of it being part of the story of the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was about all. Stalingrad had more than matched it's billing, so the name Antony Beevor was a big pull. The author made a valiant attempt to guide me through the complex political machinations of both the combatant sides and by the end of the book I think I had got there. On the way though, I did get lost and the author's tendency to mention the names of the major characters with no introduction meant that their significance could only be gained in hindsight. I was also a little surprised that the majority of the book looked at the war from the Republican point of view. This unbalanced picture may be perfectly valid and I intend to check this by reading another account. The reprisals, summary executions and massacres make for harrowing reading - unfortunately all too familiar in the 20th century.
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on 4 February 2001
I have read several books about our Civil War and I think this is the best referring to the strategical and tactical facets. Yes, works by Spanish and other foreign authors uses to stress too much in ideological and political aspects only. This book also deals with these and there it's not better than other books. The author empathize with the republican side as half of Spanish people. Howewer, military and technical side of these war I believe has been very disregarded, perhaps forceful because I suposse there's much hidden information. Moreover this war isn't easy to understand from tactical point of view; for that it's necessary to know some of the irregular geography of the Iberian peninsula and the economy by the decade of 1930, but if you know at less a little then this book is very good in explaining weapons and battles out of politics. Certainly this war wasn't characterized by brilliant battles, but for very hard ones and by irrationality and much passion over military skills, all partially explained because much new weapons as aircraft and tanks were employed there for the first time. Spanish people, including the own military wasn't familiar with modern technology of war but with a colonial style of warfare. Agriculture had few machines and the whole country was poorly industrialized but no one country in the world knew by then what thing was total war. This book covers an empty place.
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on 14 August 2001
The Spanish Civil War is often poorly understood, indeed misunderstood, firstly because of its complexity (as Antony Beevor makes clear there were multiple conflicts going on at different levels, not least the strife between different Republican groups which weakened the Republican government fatally), secondly because most of us outside Spain know about the war from those who fought on the Republican side and subsequently wrote about it (best known of whom is of course George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia).
Antony Beevor cuts through the confusion with a marvellously clear and concise account of the war, not sparing the reader a taste of how horrific conditions were in Spain for combatant and non-combatant alike. The introductory chapters on the state of Spain and the origins of the Civil War are particularly enlightening.
The book also makes clear and obvious why the Nationalists won - they were better organised, more professional soldiers, better tacticians - and had the support of Hitler and Mussolini, to say nothing of the fatal internecine conflict among the Republican parties.
Perhaps Beevor is a little sniffy about the non-intervention of the western democracies but how realistic this would have been (and whether it would have done anything to help the fatally fissile Republican cause) is to me questionable. But as Beevor points out, as the Spanish proverb has it, history is a common meadow in which everyone can make hay, and there is plenty of raw material for discussion in this excellent book. It should be read by anyone who is interested in European history, 20th century history, politics or simply those interested in how a country can disintigrate into such horror in such a short time.
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on 1 February 2005
I live in Madrid, and hear many a spaniard, basque, catalan, andulician, galician, etc., comment about their various regions and the politics. The eldery population talk about the past in good and bad terms. This book helped me understand the war that started, the political interest or non-political interest in Spain when the deadly Civil War took place. It has even helped me to understand some of the political reasoning in modern day Spain. I hear many a person (citizens and politicians) quoting the Civil War when they discuss politics in 2005 which is a somewhat worrying thought.
The battles are described well and the reasons behind the battles. The confusion and slaughter of a Civil War is brought out in the words. On a couple of occasions the Author quotes something that happened and states that it is only a rumour which I have never seen before.
It is an honest and clear description of what must have been a very confusing period for the soldiers and civilians of this war. I am not much for history books but I could not put this down.
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on 4 November 2009
The book is excellent and I found it a genuine attempt to sort out the tangled story of the Spanish Civil War. As the author points out, the accounts in Britain lack objectivity or are, I believe, just biassed.
The denial of arms to the Republicans, the legitimate government, by Britain thus driving them to turn to Russia, must be to our eternal shame. At that time not only were Germany and Italy supplying military equipment to Franco's Nationalist, they were crewing it and providing infantry units as "volunteers" as well. The feats of our contribution to the International Brigades do not redeem us. It ranks with the betrayal of Czechoslovakia.
Thought from a friend of mine: "The British buy their enemies and sell their friends"
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on 9 April 2008
The Spanish Civil War by Anthony Beevor is an interesting account of a conflict which in many ways was a prelude to the Second World War. Having read some of the author's other works I knew that it was going to be well-written with a well constructed narative, although it is not as good as either Stalingrad or Berlin the Downfall. The work itself shows the destructive impact of a Civil War especially on a country as divided on linguistic and political lines as Spain. It also shows how democracy was allowed to be crushed by facism by Britain and France and also how the Nationalist forces were able to exploit the divisions in their opponents to win. All in all a good book although I have read better by this author.
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on 6 February 2017
Neatly written, balanced, insightful, even witty. Unfortunately, a way too short for the people really interested in its subject (like me).
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