In this quest to gain a better understanding of the Spanish Civil War I have an abundant amount of material to re-study. Thus, while I scratch my head and look at the various books on my shelves, the question is where to start? For a quick overview anyone can Google the subject, but I feel like that’s cheating and it’s not good scholarship. Therefore, for those who rather not read the 15,000+ books on the subject (that’s right, 15,0000 and counting), the first book I recommend is Helen Graham’s The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford University Press.
Graham writes in her introduction the reason for her book was to examine the causes, courses, and consequences of the war both domestically and internationally, and to look at how the war–the physical and psychic lives of the participants–shaped the politics, society and culture inside and outside of Spain. It’s a good introduction, but anyone who has tackled the many different levels of the war will find that it simply can’t be done in a 168 pages. I’m now in this conundrum of whether I should turn to Hugh Thomas’ The Spanish Civil War, which drills into every tiny nuance of the conflict or the more reader-friendly Paul Preston’s The Spanish Civil War or turn to the Peter Wyden’s The Passionate War, which is a narrative.
But like others who have written about the war, I have to go to the beginning or the roots of why Spain became a Republic, And if you’re friends with any Spaniards, you already know that we’re not great believers of simplification and cutting to the chase. So bear with me as I try to explain how it all began ….
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