Recommendation for a history of the Spanish Civil War
May 10, 2012 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Recommend a good history on the Spanish Civil War?

I am just finishing The Eitingons, which I bought used on a whim. The section on Leonid's NKVD activities in Spain, with it's references to Stalin's purge and his general handling of Russia's involvement with the Republicans is absolutely fascinating. (Not to mention the contacts Leonid built at the time that were to be used later in Trotsky's assassination). I've been to Valencia several times and never knew that it was temporarily the capital. I do not wish to romanticize the Republic that could have been, but I find the whole period fascinating, and would love to get a better grasp of the internal goings-on of the Spanish Civil War.
posted by molecicco to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure there are better scholarly accounts out there, but I found George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia to be deeply affecting and illuminating, while even being quite funny at points.
posted by black_lizard at 6:52 AM on May 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Anthony Beevor's The Battle For Spain is a great overview of the war, though it is much more focused on the actual Spanish conflict, with the Germans, Soviets and International Brigades being a persistent presence on the margins.
posted by bl1nk at 7:31 AM on May 10, 2012

Stanley Payne's Fascism in Spain is probably the best book on the war I've ever read, and an amazing background on the fascist side of the equation, which I've always found more interesting than the republican side.
posted by General Malaise at 7:43 AM on May 10, 2012

As well as Beevor and Orwell try Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston. Then compliment those with Ronald Fraser.
posted by adamvasco at 7:43 AM on May 10, 2012

I never really understood what the Spanish Civil War was about until I read Night Soldiers by Alan Furst.
posted by Rash at 8:06 AM on May 10, 2012

All great recommendations! Thanks so far. I have read For Whom The Bell Tolls, so I may get around to Homage to Catalunia eventually, but I would prefer a proper history book. Fascism in Spain sounds very interesting, but I am defnitely interested to get inside the politics of all the belligerents, both domestic and foreign. Both Beevor and Preston are looking good to me. Ronald Fraser seems highly biased, but very personal, and I might get to that later of the first two don't exhaust me:)
posted by molecicco at 8:40 AM on May 10, 2012

Not a proper history book, but rather a memoir, I'd suggest Arturo Barea's The Clash, his memoirs of the Seige of Madrid. An intense and memorable book. The whole trilogy is excellent, if you want to see the buildup to the war from an individual's perspective.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:18 AM on May 10, 2012

Paul Preston's "The Spanish Holocaust" is enlightening, if difficult reading.

Giles Tremlett's "Ghosts of Spain" is a really good overview of why modern Spain is the way it is, and that (of course) covers a lot of Civil War territory...
posted by benzo8 at 10:19 AM on May 10, 2012

I have read For Whom The Bell Tolls, so I may get around to Homage to Catalunia eventually, but I would prefer a proper history book.

Having read both, the latter in my opinion, is far better between the two. It offers a rather grim glimpse into POUMs liquidation. A very on the ground view of the Civil War. I read this on the recommendation of a history of professor of mine in grad school, who thought it both an excellent source on the Spanish Civil War, but also as an example of english writing.
posted by Atreides at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2012

Gerald Brenan's The Spanish Labyrinth written in 1943 gives an account of the social and political background to the conflict; José Peirats wrote about the anarchists.
posted by Abiezer at 11:51 AM on May 10, 2012

The The Spanish Civil War: A very short introduction is an excellent (and short!) textbook which crams a great deal into a very clear and concise narrative. It's more introduction/narrative than detailed analysis, but very good for figuring out the basics before diving in deeper.
posted by jb at 11:53 AM on May 10, 2012

Homage to Catalonia is AMAZING.

GET TO IT NEXT! It is available free online!
posted by Blasdelb at 7:36 PM on May 10, 2012

(I'm watching the HBO film Hemingway and Gellhorn - with a mefite who crewed on the film - and I was very happy to find this askme. Thanks!)
posted by rtha at 8:35 PM on May 28, 2012

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