The Spanish Civil War, fought between 1936 and 1939, has proven a fertile ground for legend. Any number of works represent aspects of the war from the perspective of one side or the other, most famously Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, and Picasso's Guernica, although Gironella's novel The Cypresses Believe In God also deserves mention. Most are clearly sympathetic to the Republicans, although a few (Bolin's Spain, the Vital Years) exhibit the opposite bias. This book, like Gironella's, is the rare exception - a fair portrait of a complex, turbulent, bloody time.
Thomas guides the reader carefully through the Spanish politics of the early '30s that preceded the botched military coup of '36, then through the brutal years of the war to its conclusion. The international political scene receives a good deal of attention, since international participation was crucial to the course of the war (and even moreso our perception of its nature), but the focus remains on Spain itself.
Despite being almost 1000 pages long (and that's not counting appendices, notes, and index), the narrative never drags. It is very difficult to be both readable and comprehensive, but Thomas succeeds in doing so.
This is a very complete account of the Spanish Civil War. Hugh covers both sides of the war from both the Republican and Nationalist sides. He covers the politics and strategy of both sides. There are maps showing how the country was divided and progress to show the Republican defeat. The book is very informative and Hugh adds some of the foreign policy that affected the wars turnout. It is a great history lesson. If you want a first hand account of the war from a foreign soldier's perspective check out "Homage to Catalonia" by Orwell.
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