Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
Better than history
on 14 January 2003
For anyone with an interest in Spanish history and culture, I would recommend this book over any strictly historical work I have ever read. Without glossing over personal details or emotions, and even with some inevitable bias and generalisation, Barea gives us an unmatchable picture of Spain between 1900-1939, from his beginnings as the upwardly-mobile son of a washerwoman to his job censoring the war reports of the likes of Hemingway. He shows us how the real Spain lived and what it thought, with a wealth of beautifully observed but incredibly readable detail.
For anyone scared of buying translations, don't be. This was translated by his wife (and indeed the Spanish version was published later as a translation of the English, as the author had lost his original manuscript!) and there are very few points where the writing feels unnatural (a considerable achievement for an Austrian translating from Spanish into English)
Exciting and illuminating, colourful and at times harrowing, this is certainly the best work of history (if a memoir can be called that) I have ever read.