The Battle For Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939
Antony Beevor Pages: 526 Published: 2006
The book: Beevor originally published a book on the Spanish Civil War in 1982, but nearly 25 years of more research had been done in Spain and documents, not previously accessible, held in both German and Russian archives, became available, so he completely rewrote the book. This is a detailed and comprehensive history of the war.
You might like it because: Antony Beevor is a master historian and brings the Spanish Civil War to life by telling us not just what the politicians and military men were doing, but also by using anecdotes about the lives of ordinary citizens.
What did other people say?
“Most nations are deeply suspicious of foreigners who write books about them. Thus, the most convincing tributes to Antony Beevor’s history of the Spanish Civil War come from Madrid’s reviewers whose applause kept this book at the top of their bestseller lists for months…Fascination lies in the human drama, superbly captured by Beevor.”
– Sunday Times (UK)
“It is an admirably clear-sighted account. What Beevor does so well is to place the war in the context of Spanish history and world politics…Beevor’s understanding of warfare and tactics is second to none…This is a great achievement.”
– Daily Telegraph (UK)
Awards & Recognition:
#1 Bestseller in Spain for 12 weeks
How quickly will you get into the book? The first four pages of the introduction put the war in context, and then it slows down a bit as Beevor lays out whom each of the factions involved on each side are. (I found this very useful and kept referring back to it as I worked through the book.) After that it’s quite a slow read.
You might not like it because: It’s complicated! The Spanish Civil War involved so many different groups on both sides and so many international interlopers that keeping track of all the different cadres and their actions was hard going. At one point I felt as if I needed a Spanish version of the board game Risk so I could lay out who was doing what, where, and when on a map. Usually I find Beevor’s history books real page-turners, but this one was a slower read due to the nature of the war itself.
What might you read next?
Quite a few famous writers either covered the Spanish Civil War as journalists or participated as volunteers.
Ernest Hemmingway was there as a journalist. Read his fictional novel set in Spain during the war, For Whom The Bell Tolls.
George Orwell volunteered, fought, and was wounded in the war. Read his famous novella, Animal Farm.
Or read a fictional story set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
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