by Paul Preston
I’ve been working my way through this book slowly for the last several weeks, and I came into it with absolutely NO prior knowledge of the Spanish Civil War. In fact, I didn’t even know they had a Civil War in the 1930’s.
The book was a good read. Preston writes knowledgeably and readably, in an informative but not overly-scholarly way. While his writing doesn’t quite compare to Richard Pipes (see Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime), it trends in that direction in its accessibility, and the ability to be interesting and useful for a non-expert like myself.
I was drawn to this book when I began to realize that I have no idea what Spain was doing during World War II. It’s a pretty big piece of Europe to just be sitting there, so I decided to start with some pre-WWII background. And lo, Spain has quite the pre-WWII background! Almost a decade of a brutal, bloody, desperate Civil War, led by the Fascist rebels (and eventually, their leader, soon-to-be evil dictator Franco). Without rambling on about Spanish history (because I am still definitely no expert), I will say that this was a very interesting read. I feel that Preston did a good job balancing various perspectives on a historical event that is still being vigorously debated eighty years later.