Good history of the spanish civil war

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sam sanchez
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Dec 7 2008 10:32
Good history of the spanish civil war

Any recommendations?

Mark.
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Dec 7 2008 14:32

If you can find a subtitled version it's definitely worth watching noticias de una guerra, a documentary combining newsreel footage from the civil war and some filmed reconstructions. It's very watchable and as an even-handed introduction to the history it's as good as anything I've seen. There's a trailer here, without subtitles unfortunately.

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Dec 8 2008 10:00

If you want a history which 'respecatable' in that it isn't openly partisan then Anthony Beevor's book is worth looking at. He's obviously totally bourgeois in perspective , but pretty honest about the collectives and the differences between the 'red terror' (the shooting of fascist priests and landowners) and what the fascists did. It was a while since I read it though so my opinion on it might be a bit different now.

Boris Badenov
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Dec 8 2008 16:50

The 70s BBC documentary is also pretty interesting/useful in that it includes interviews with people who were actually in the C.N.T during those fateful days.

indolibcomer
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Dec 9 2008 13:17
sam sanchez wrote:
Any recommendations?

how about "Libertarias", a good film about the CNT, Mujeres Libres and the Spanish Civil War in 1936

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Dec 10 2008 19:08
Django wrote:
If you want a history which 'respecatable' in that it isn't openly partisan then Anthony Beevor's book is worth looking at. He's obviously totally bourgeois in perspective , but pretty honest about the collectives and the differences between the 'red terror' (the shooting of fascist priests and landowners) and what the fascists did. It was a while since I read it though so my opinion on it might be a bit different now.

i agree with this. same with me though in that it's been a long time since i've read it.

IrrationallyAngry
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Dec 11 2008 01:41

Get Felix Morrow's book (Revolution and CounterRevolution in Spain).

You'll probably disagree with some of what he says, but it provides a very sharp analysis of all of the different forces at work.

It's online here:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/morrow-felix/1938/revolution-spain/index.htm

freemind
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Dec 11 2008 19:33

Murray Bookchin-Spanish Anarchists,Heroic Years and Durruti-The People Armed are excellent reads. Beevors book is excellent with a good account of the Asturias rising and also Robert Alexander,s Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War has some interesting and contemporary info;

David in Atlanta
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Dec 14 2008 13:02

Blood of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War by Ronald Fraser is worth a read. He talked to veterans from all the political and military groups involved. I was interested in reading about the Carlists, I knew nothing about them aside from the name. One of their militia veterans said they would have preferred fighting with the anarchists except for the anti-clericalism. I don't know if that was a party position or one mans opinion but i found it worth remembering.

freemind
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Dec 14 2008 14:09

RE; Blood of Spain- It's a very good read and has valuable anecdotes and opinions from all the major factions in the conflict and as David stated the info; on the Carlists and Requettes is very good. However it forwards the canard that Anarchism was a substitute for Catholicism.
Although this is a generalisation it is a common leitmotif with bourgois historians who seek to recover some kudos for reactionary beliefs.Interesting are the statements of Navarrese and Castillian peasants who although desperately poor were turned away from Anarchism due to it's anti-clericism.Even Falangists were amazed that they fought for Franco! Also the fact that the Falange were known as FAI-lange due to their psuedo-socialism!A good read overall.

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Dec 14 2008 16:50
freemind wrote:
However it forwards the canard that Anarchism was a substitute for Catholicism. Although this is a generalisation it is a common leitmotif with bourgois historians who seek to recover some kudos for reactionary beliefs.

Unfortunately its also common amongst otherwise good Marxist historians - see Hobsbawm's Primitive Rebels.

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Dec 25 2008 05:19
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
Get Felix Morrow's book (Revolution and CounterRevolution in Spain).

You'll probably disagree with some of what he says, but it provides a very sharp analysis of all of the different forces at work.

It's online here:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/morrow-felix/1938/revolution-spain/index.htm

Be forewarned that this book is the orthodox (of that time, at least) Trotskyist account of the events in question.

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Jan 2 2009 20:34

"Lessons of the Spanish Revolution" by Vernon Richards:

http://www.akpress.org/1996/items/lessonsofthespanishrevolution

I also liked Beevor.

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Jan 4 2009 20:37

I recommend The Revolution and Civil War in Spain by Pierre Broue and Emile Temime. Although they have a Trot perspective the book is comprhensive and fairly argued. Another good book is The Spanish Revolution by Burnett Bolleten which covers events up to the May Days and their immediate aftermath. Later Bolleten wrote a comprhensive history of the Revolution and Civil War but I haven't read it yet.

posi
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Jan 6 2009 15:38

The 'standard' work in English is Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War. It's very dry though, very long, and quite hard going. He's slightly to the right of Beevor politically, and has that irritating habit of passing strong criticism of both side off as 'objectivity', but there is an immense amount of detail in there - not matched by any other single volume.

Has anyone read Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War, by Michael Seidman? I'd be interested to have a look at it.

EDIT: By the way, Morrow's book comes under sustained attack here, in the Anarchist FAQ: http://www.infoshop.org/faq/append32.html

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Jan 7 2009 02:53

Wot no Jose Peirats' Anarchists In The Spanish Revolution?

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888
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Jan 7 2009 03:15
Django wrote:
freemind wrote:
However it forwards the canard that Anarchism was a substitute for Catholicism. Although this is a generalisation it is a common leitmotif with bourgois historians who seek to recover some kudos for reactionary beliefs.

Unfortunately its also common amongst otherwise good Marxist historians - see Hobsbawm's Primitive Rebels.

shurely you both mean a substitute for protestantism? by the way i don't understand your 2nd sentence, freemind.

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Jan 7 2009 20:10
posi wrote:
The 'standard' work in English is Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War. It's very dry though, very long, and quite hard going. He's slightly to the right of Beevor politically, and has that irritating habit of passing strong criticism of both side off as 'objectivity', but there is an immense amount of detail in there - not matched by any other single volume...

At 1,107 pages Bolloten's The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution published in 1991 and benefiting from material not available to Thomas appears to have superseded the Thomas volume (I say appears because I haven't read it yet myself.) Here are some of the blurbs for it:

"A monument of dedicated scholarship that is not likely to be replaced. The best study of the subject in any language." Paul Avrich, Queens College, City University of New York

"The research is exhaustive, the treatment objective, and the interpretations and conclusions convincing." Stanley G. Payne, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Burnett Bolloten's completed opus stands alone." Joan Connelly Ullman, University of Washington

Avrich is the historian of American anarchism par excellence, and Payne has written extensively about Spain, the revolution and the civil war. Ullman has written about the social ramifications of the civil war. These are pretty credible recommendations.

freemind
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Jan 11 2009 09:42

What i meant by my 2nd sentence was that bourgeois historians try to say that Anarchism is only a substitute for reactionary beliefs therebye diminishing Libertarian achievement and also recuperating Statism in the process.I dont understand your "protestantism"quote.

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Jan 17 2009 06:22

Well I thought that various historians viewed anarchism as a substitute for protestantism - because there had never really been a protestant movement in Spain - they saw anarchism its a subsitute, a rebellion against the catholic church, a millenarian belief similar to new protestant cults in the 1600s but which occurred later than in other countries.

freemind
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Jan 17 2009 11:08

888;On the contrary!To salvage and recuperate reaction and provide an excuse for the disdain and rejection of religion and the state bourgeois historians sought to diminish Anarchism by claiming that it wasn't a movement of self initiative or autogestion but merely a catholic substitute.It cant use Protestantism as it didnt exist so as Catholicism was the overwhelming superstition it was the most effective platform in order to make such a garbage claim.Also many clerics claimed that Anarchists only rejected the abuses of the church and not the ideas of Jesus himself and other nonsense .

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Feb 5 2009 02:22

Laurie Lee's auto-biography is an interesting read, it provides little history or theory but gives a good acount of what fighting in the international brigade was actually like for the foriegn volunteers

Anarcho
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Feb 5 2009 10:03

There are numerous good books on Spain. I've done a few reviews:

The Spanish Civil War by Antony Beevor (the new version, The Battle for Spain is not as good).

The Anarchists of Casas Viejas (essential reading)

We, The Anarchists!

The CNT in the Spanish Revolution

And as someone pointed out, the Morrow good is flawed. Veron Richards is good. Section I.8 of An Anarchist FAQ discusses Spain (although it is being revised). Also there is this summary which I wrote for Anarcho-Syndicalist Review back in 2006.

BB
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Feb 6 2009 10:37
Anarcho wrote:
the new version, The Battle for Spain is not as good.

In what way (it's got more pictures wink), i've still not got round to reading this version.
Still steaming my way through Abel Pazs, Durruti. In the Spanish revolution, which is a misleading title, as it's an autobiography following Durruti from his birth to i assume his death (i've not finished it yet). But is also a wealth of history of spanish anarchism, the FAI and the CNT. As an example i'm on page 286 of a 794 page it's still 1932-33, it's just as well written and easy to read as previous Paz books i've read. It's well worth the cash and maybe it's still on sale at amazon...

Anarcho
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Feb 6 2009 15:33
BB wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
the new version, The Battle for Spain is not as good.

In what way (it's got more pictures wink), i've still not got round to reading this version.

It downplays the libertarian aspects of the civil war -- in the first version the libertarians were really at the heart of it, the new version is more like a standard history. Which is a shame. It is still a good history, though, but I would recommend reading "The Spanish Civil War" if at all possible.

BB wrote:
Still steaming my way through Abel Pazs, Durruti. In the Spanish revolution. . . it's just as well written and easy to read as previous Paz books i've read. It's well worth the cash and maybe it's still on sale at amazon...

I would agree that is a good book (although buy it from publisher if you can -- support anarchists, not Amazon!). I would also recommend The Free Women of Spain by Martha Ackelsberg, although it is not really about the Civil War as such. Burnett Bolloten's The Spanish Civil War : revolution and counterrevolution is also worth reading.

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Feb 6 2009 21:54
Anarcho wrote:
...I would also recommend The Free Women of Spain by Martha Ackelsberg, although it is not really about the Civil War as such. Burnett Bolloten's The Spanish Civil War : revolution and counterrevolution is also worth reading.

Although Free Women of Spain isn't specific to the Civil War, it does carry the story of Mujeres Libres through to the end of the conflict.

Thanks for seconding the Bolloten book too. His magnum opus on the Civil War and Revoultion comes highly recommended, but it's so costly that one would have to seek it out from a public or university library.

Feighnt
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Feb 7 2009 09:23
Anarcho wrote:
BB wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
the new version, The Battle for Spain is not as good.

In what way (it's got more pictures wink), i've still not got round to reading this version.

It downplays the libertarian aspects of the civil war -- in the first version the libertarians were really at the heart of it, the new version is more like a standard history. Which is a shame. It is still a good history, though, but I would recommend reading "The Spanish Civil War" if at all possible.

i would kinda agree with this, though i'm unsure if i would say it makes the second book *worse*, precisely. the feeling i had got was that Beevor was somewhat more idealistic concerning the Anarchists in his first version of the book, and while he seems to obviously still admire them somewhat in the second, he's studied enough into the war (and, for that matter, other wars) to start to become more war-weary in general. beside, the more one studies into the war, the more one will see the (pardon the term) impurities of ideology that many Anarchists ended up adopting over time, due to varying reasons. personally, the more i read and learn about the spanish civil war, the wearier i get - partly because i know that the excellent things that were done were eventually crushed awfully, and partly because there were so many contradictions which marred the Anarchist efforts. not that i'm saying that the spanish civil war is unimportant to look at, it absolutely is, but the reality of warfare is that it tends to grind down (and sometimes completely grinds away) excellent ideals and idealism. imo, the newer version, aside from simply being longer, may possibly be a bit more realistic in outlook.

and, beside the fact, the book *is* about the civil war, not just the revolution. so, thusly, one ought to expect around half of the book, at least, to be about the Nationalists. and since the Anarchists were only *part* of the other half - an important part, yes, but of greatly diminishing importance as the war progressed (not completely but largely due to mistakes the movement made early in the conflict) - it means that an honest, complete account of the civil war would not focus *overly* on the Anarchists.

i'm just disappointed that the version we got in english is actually *shorter* than the version they got in Spain. i have to wonder what bits of information (maybe rather interesting/important information) got cut. they removed something like a couple hundred pages, i think!

Thunk
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Feb 17 2009 00:30

I am reading the "Anarchists" chapter of Gerald Brenan's "The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War" for my Spanish History class.

When I am finished with it I'll share my thoughts, but if it's like any of the other stuff I've had to read about in this class, it will probably be quite good. Strangely enough, so far when covering anarchism the textbooks have not dismissed it as some small rural phenomenon or something like that.

Dannny
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Feb 17 2009 22:57

Hello, I´m unlurking myself.
Would really recommend Borkenau´s The Spanish Cockpit, a journalistic account in a diary style travelling around the Republican/revolutionary zones in 36 and then again in ´37. Dead readable.
I recently finished Gijon: From mobilisation to Civil War which was pretty dry, academic and expensive. Nevertheless worth a read if you´re bang into Spain. It´s a bit Cultural Studies and unfortunately very light on oral testimony (bound to be increasingly the case I suppose) but nevertheless paints an interesting picture of a working class city in a period of escalating class struggle. Not great if you´re only after civil war histories but if anyone else has read it I´d be interested to know what you think...

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Feb 18 2009 00:48
Dannny wrote:
...Would really recommend Borkenau´s The Spanish Cockpit, a journalistic account in a diary style travelling around the Republican/revolutionary zones in 36 and then again in ´37...if anyone else has read it I´d be interested to know what you think...

It was a very interesting contemporary account from an ex-Marxist.

Mentioned above in this thread, Red Spanish Notebook by Mary Low and Juan Brea is another contemporary account but written by active participants in the struggle.

Brea was a Cuban painter and Mary Low, his companera, was an Australian surrealist poet. They joined the POUM Militia, and Mary edited the English edition of the POUM journal The Spanish Revolution. The writing here is committed, something that differentiates from Borkenau's book. Low and Brea take turns writing chapters, so the narrative is always exciting and vivid.

Red Spanish Notebook is published by City Lights Books in the USA.

Dannny
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Feb 18 2009 10:04
x359594 wrote:
Dannny wrote:
...Would really recommend Borkenau´s The Spanish Cockpit, a journalistic account in a diary style travelling around the Republican/revolutionary zones in 36 and then again in ´37...if anyone else has read it I´d be interested to know what you think...

It was a very interesting contemporary account from an ex-Marxist.

Mentioned above in this thread, Red Spanish Notebook by Mary Low and Juan Brea is another contemporary account but written by active participants in the struggle.

Brea was a Cuban painter and Mary Low, his companera, was an Australian surrealist poet. They joined the POUM Militia, and Mary edited the English edition of the POUM journal The Spanish Revolution. The writing here is committed, something that differentiates from Borkenau's book. Low and Brea take turns writing chapters, so the narrative is always exciting and vivid.

Red Spanish Notebook is published by City Lights Books in the USA.

Nice one, sounds boss I´ll have a look