Recommended reading on the Spanish Civil War

Discussions on all aspects of the Spanish Civil War including the Condor Legion, the Germans fighting for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
normski-
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Postby normski- » 20 Jan 2007 13:45

Orwell joined the POUM militia along with the Independent Labour Party contingent from the UK.& fought on the side of the Republic until the Republic suppressed POUM in May 37 at the behest of the communists. POUM's leader Andres Nin was previously associated with Trotsky. So Orwell might have been a kind of communist but not a pro-Soviet one. The communist label in SCW context usually means pro-soviet.

(Prior to editing this post I said Orwell was a member of the Independent Labour Party in the UK.but am not sure that he even was a member.)

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camarada_j
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Postby camarada_j » 27 Jan 2007 09:49

Orwell was no Communist. He was a Socialist: yes he fought on the side of the 'Anti fascists' early on in the war (He left Spain in mid 37). But he fought with the POUMist militia (which was a non Stalinist revolutionary socialist party) and also was caught up in the May Days in Barcelona May 37 where the Communist (Communist Party of Spain, PCE) backed police started a suppression of the POUM and to an extent the Anarchists. Orwell (and his wife) had to flee Spain as he was wanted by the PCE.

It is important to remember that the 'Anti Fascist' forces in Spain were a coalition, including Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, left Republicans. So to say 'Didn't he fight on the side of communists?' is an over simplification of the Republican camp.

Ultimately it was Spain that cemented Orwell’s' distain for Stalinist totalitarianism - Just look at Animal Farm and 1984.

Hoss
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Postby Hoss » 19 Feb 2007 00:48

Between the Bullet and the Lie, by Cecil Eby, is a great history of the Abraham Lincoln battalion. Rather than taking any kind of political stance, it is a true "soldier's history", if you like. Very well written and even has quite a few funny anecdotes.

Also, a revised edition drawing on more sources from veterans and so on was supposed to be released last month, called "Comrades and Commissars". However, I just checked Amazon and it doesn't seem to be available yet, maybe publication has been delayed.

paul philippou
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Postby paul philippou » 22 Feb 2007 21:47

For the best account of the British Battalion.

Baxell, Richard, The British Battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. University of London, London School of Economics, PhD, 2002.

which he turned into the book -

Baxell, Richard, British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. The British Battalion in the International Brigades 1936-1939. London: Routledge, 2004.

best get a library to order it - very expensive - but Baxell's research is first rate.

Coconuts
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Postby Coconuts » 26 Apr 2007 14:25

There seems to be a lot of Pro-Republican and International Brigade accounts appearing in this list, so to even things up, recommendations for books written from the Nationalist side:

Manuel Aznar, Historia Militar de la Guerra de Espana, 'Idea', 1940

This is quite biased in favour of the Nationalists, but, it is a fairly good military history of the whole war (e.g. not just the bits in which the International Brigades or other foreigners fought). Also, the physical appearence of this book, at least in the 1940 edition, is great, a huge and imposing paperback. Quite readable.

Luis Lojendio, Operaciones Militares de la Guerra de Espana, Montana y Simon, 1940

Again, a nice looking book, many good maps, period photos on every page, some good anecdotes, but the text is a little bit boring. Not as readable as Azana.

Jose Martinez Bande, Monografias de la Guerra Civil series... San Martin 1960s-1980s

There are about 18 of these, but of the five or six I have, I have no complaints. I don't think they can be beaten as a military history of the war, despite some Nationalist bias. The range of sources consulted, including Republican ones, and Martinez Bande and his team's expertise as professional soldiers, means they hardly seem equalled by any other writer on the military history of the campaign. (At least, by any I have come across. I have noted some recent Spanish ones, but have not had a chance to look at them.)

I have seen them dismissed by certain historians though, (like Paul Preston), who are basically ignorant of military history, but don't let this stop them in their attempt to criticise every single thing written from a Nationalist point of view. 8O

One of the best recent works I have seen is:

Jose Semprun, Dal Hacho al Pirineo: El Ejercito Nacional en la Guerra Civil, Actas, 2004

There are good histories of the Republican Army, and, now, a good history of the Nationalist one. This is full of info, and was really illuminating. I also could not really detect any bias in it, perhaps reflecting the fact that as time passes writing more balanced works becomes easier.

bools
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Postby bools » 04 Jun 2007 22:31

paul philippou wrote:For the best account of the British Battalion.

Baxell, Richard, The British Battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. University of London, London School of Economics, PhD, 2002.

which he turned into the book -

Baxell, Richard, British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. The British Battalion in the International Brigades 1936-1939. London: Routledge, 2004.

best get a library to order it - very expensive - but Baxell's research is first rate.


Richard Baxells' book is now available in paperback published by Warren Pell

For British volunteers I would also recommend

'Britain and the Spanish Civil War' by Tom Buchanan (which also looks at the Aid for Spain Movement), published by Cambridge

'Into the Heart of the Fire' by James K. Hopkins, published by Stamford

'Voices from the Spanish Civil War; Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39' Ed. Ian MacDougall, published by Polygon

And my personal favourite (along with Richard Baxell's book)...
'Miners Against Fascism. Wales and the Spanish Civil War' by Hywel Francis, published by Lawrence and Wishart. This takes a very detailed look at the conditions in South Wales which led to the high number of volunteers (the influence of a single industry, Miners Union etc, interntionalist tradition of the coal fields). The author was a lecturer at Swansea University where the South Wales Miners Library is held. He is now, I believe, a Member of Parliament! On a note of trivia - this is the book which contains the quote 'If I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot fascists' which was later used by the Manic Street Preachers on their single 'If you tolerate this, then your children will be next'.

Books on the wider SCW? I still rate Paul Preston as head and shoulders above most English speaking writers/publications. Richard Baxell studied under Preston at the LSE (I think). For those new to the subject his 'A concise history of the SCW' is a great introduction. His 'Comrades! Portraits From the Spanish Civil War' gets under the skin of some of the leading characters. Both are published by Fontana.

Preston's biography of Franco is also exceptional.

On a slightly different note Ronald Fraser's 'Blood of Spain' is a fantastic collections of testimonies which, for me, is one of the best oral histories of the War.

B

Chinaski1917
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Postby Chinaski1917 » 10 Jul 2007 10:57

Abel Paz biography of Durutti can come handful for getting info on CNT.

Also Felix Morrow "Revolution and Counter-revolution in Spain" from a Trotskyist view.

Hoss
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Postby Hoss » 10 Jul 2007 20:18

bools wrote:
paul philippou wrote:On a slightly different note Ronald Fraser's 'Blood of Spain' is a fantastic collections of testimonies which, for me, is one of the best oral histories of the War.

B


A great and fascinating read. I believe it is out of print, however, which is a shame. I'm off to check Amazon...

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Sudetenlander
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Postby Sudetenlander » 22 Jul 2007 19:48

batu wrote:just finished Beevor's earlier edition of Spanish civil war and indeed I had an inpression similar to the one of paul philippou
that Beevor is somewhat biased against the communists.What comes straight to the mind is for example, at the end of the book
he describes the fates of the Spanish republican exiles. He mentiones tens of thousands of orphans sent to Mexico,
goes into details about hundreds of thousands interned in France and even mentiones a couple of hundred who managed to get to the UK.
But when he talks about the USSR, he bluntly states that only the seniour communist party officials were allowed in the USSR
and then makes sarcastic remarks about the 'land of the oppressed'. However, it is generally known that thousands of republican orphans
were evacuated in the USSR.
But Beevor conviniently omitted this well-known fact. That is just one example on the surface but with the due attention one can find other
examples of biased story-telling as well.


I actually just finished reading the original text today, and I think you have to put the text in proper context if you are going to critique the author. Beevor was discussing how the USSR was critical of France for not doing enough to help the Republican refugees as far as food, housing, emigration, etc. Beevor references how the USSR, in comparison to France, Mexico, Belgium and a couple other countries, did very little in comparison despite the fact that the Soviets were one of the principal external backers and agitators (along with Italy and Germany of course) of the SCW. For example, Beevor quotes that the USSR was critical of the manner in which France was running the intern camps, yet the USSR only donated $5 million, which was barely enough to feed the refugees for two days. Also, whereas France had returned the gold reserves to the Nationalists after the war, the USSR, in possession of a much larger proportion of the Republic's gold reserves, kept the reserves. Of course, one would not expect the USSR to return them to the Nationalists, but I believe Beevor's point was to show that the USSR, in spite of all its talk (and its responsibility for the war by backing the PCE) did very little to help the Republicans after the war in comparison to France and some of the other countries.

Booknote
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Postby Booknote » 18 Sep 2007 23:48

"X", do you have an author and other information to go along with the book, "Viva La Muerte"?

asl
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Postby asl » 06 Feb 2008 17:11

There is a new book that is very neutral and can give a good idea of how was the civil war.It is "Atlas de la Guerra Civil española" of Fernando Puell and Justo A.Huerta.I think is some of the best books about how was the civil war(related to operations,battles,armies,..)
I dont think it will be publicated in englsih,but if somebody knows some spanish i think it will be enough.
There was another wrotte by Peter Stolb called "la legion Condor,España 1936-39),it is written by one who was in international brigades.I think it is very good,it is really neutral too.

Igor, SCW enthusiast
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Re: Recommended reading on the Spanish Civil War

Postby Igor, SCW enthusiast » 09 Mar 2008 12:30

Dear SCW friends,

I would like to offer you a book on the Soviet pilots in the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939 as this is my main theme and the book’s author is my friend in Moscow.

The book was published only in Russian language and only in Russia, its English language version is available only through my translation service. Price for original Russian language book is 40 Euro (or equal price in USD) including postage (the big one). The English language translation version is available and it costs 80 Euro (430 pages).

Here is a short resume of the book below.

The book was written and published in Moscow by Sergey Abrosov - "V NEBE ISPANII, 1936 – 1939" (In the Sky of Spain), Moscow, 2003. ISBN 5-08-004089-0 and is devoted for the Soviet volunteer pilots made the war in Spain with particular interest for fighter pilots. In fact, it is 430 large pages long, and almost every word should be of interest, because it contains a very large amount of information, being an exceptional book mainly based on many files and documents from RGVA ex-Soviet archives (there is a list of sources). It’s not as other books or memories which could be resumed quite easily, because Mr.Abrosov has evidently wanted to concentrate in it his very important and original research on the subject, so every page is to be carefully studied by researchers of air war in Spain.
Fortunately, this book is rather as an important historical work, organized as day by day air combat diary which often is some different in comparison with many Western sources known before, presenting also much information in tabular form, records, reports of pilots and other people, shorthand conversations with airmen during the war and after, tables, lists, so that is much more easy to understand.
Eventually, this book seems to the best research in the world on the air war in Spain 1936 – 1939.

If someone would be interested in, just let me know.

All the very best.
Regards, Igor N.Gordelianow, g.Drogobych, UKRAINE.

Igor, SCW enthusiast
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Re: Recommended reading on the Spanish Civil War

Postby Igor, SCW enthusiast » 09 Mar 2008 13:02

For whom SCW readers interested in,

I have just put my first note before at this excellent forum and would like to continue some business with everyone interested in.

I have written you here after reading a message through the SCW Yahoo group yesterday.

I have been learning the Spanish Civil War theme for years. My main interest is actions of Soviet airmen in combat actions in the sky of Spain. As a result, I am compiling a list of Russian, Ukrainian and other CIS-sources on, and the likes (airmen biographies, etc.). Also, my goal is to make these sources accessible for everybody interested in. With this, I have translated and am translating some books, articles and materials from Russian into English and offer them to my foreign fellows and friends. Sometimes my service isn’t free but cheap, as I have to cover the time spent.

For more details, try to contact met through this forum or directly to my email address below.

All the very best,
Igor N.Gordelianow, Ukraine.
gordelianow@yahoo.com

santi
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Re: Recommended reading on the Spanish Civil War

Postby santi » 12 Mar 2008 16:47

And what about the Hugh Thomas books? Someone has read it?

Since now, sorry for my bad english, I hope it will improve with the time.

Un saludo

Igor, SCW enthusiast
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Re: Recommended reading on the Spanish Civil War

Postby Igor, SCW enthusiast » 14 Mar 2008 11:15

Dear Santi,

Please let me know the ISBN identification of the Hugh Thomas book.

From you post data, I have known that you are from Valencia. In this way, do you probably know Mr. Julian Oller, the well-known SCW researcher and historian. Unfortunately, I had lost contact with him a couple of years ago and would very much like to establish it. I wrote him more than once including through the yahoo SCW group I am a member of, but without any success. They offer me the only his old email address I had already got. I don't know whether Julan is still alive and asking to someone else in hopes he to be found to write me. For details, please write me to my email below.

Regards, Igor
gordelianow@yahoo.com


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