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Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War Library Binding – February 15, 2007


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Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War + The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War + The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press; 1St Edition edition (February 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271029102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271029108
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Comrades and Commissars is the best book ever written about the Lincoln Battalion. Eby does not accept the standard politically correct line, but neither does he go to the opposite extreme. Rather, he demonstrates a very good grasp of the volunteers as individuals, not as political puppets, and is thoroughly sympathetic to them on the human level, while at the same time showing the real character of the politics involved. --Stanley G. Payne, University of Wisconsin Madison, Author of The Spanish Civil War, The Soviet Union, and Communism

Between a Bullet and a Lie (1969) was a good book and Comrades and Commissars is better. Cecil Eby's book on the American volunteers who fought in the Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigades (IB) in the Spanish Civil War exposes in lively detail what happened to the Americans in Spain. --Stephen Burgess-Whiting, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

The result of this new research is a detailed, forthright, and empathetic account of the short, but active life of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, set masterfully in the larger context of the Spanish Civil War and the politics of the American Left in the 1930s. --Scott E. Belliveau, Journal of Military History

Between a Bullet and a Lie (1969) was a good book and Comrades and Commissars is better. Cecil Eby's book on the American volunteers who fought in the Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigades (IB) in the Spanish Civil War exposes in lively detail what happened to the Americans in Spain. --Stephen Burgess-Whiting, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

The result of this new research is a detailed, forthright, and empathetic account of the short, but active life of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, set masterfully in the larger context of the Spanish Civil War and the politics of the American Left in the 1930s. --Scott E. Belliveau, Journal of Military History

About the Author

Cecil D. Eby is a retired Professor of English at the University of Michigan. He is the author of eight books, including Hungary at War: Civilians and Soldiers in World War II (Penn State Press, 1998).


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Customer Reviews

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I also found interesting information regarding the Mosin-Nagant rifles.
Neal A. Wellons
This is totally the best book on the Spanish Civil War I have ever read and I am still in the middle of it.
R. E. Cohen
Their casualty rate was very high, largely due to incompetent leadership and inadequate weapons.
Charles Ashbacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Library Binding
Written by retired Professor of English Cecil D. Eby, Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War is a fascinating history of 2,800 American fighters who formed a Battalion to fight against Generalissimo Francisco Franco and his right-wing nationalists against the Republican government of Spain during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930's. Building upon Eby's previous study published in 1969, "Between the Bullet and the Lie", Comrades and Commissars draws from additional data that Eby gathered in recent decades, including the Lincoln Battalion archives that have been hidden in a Moscow storeroom for sixty years. These papers shed light on some of the most provocative questions concerning the Battalion, including which Americans were persecuted or even executed by the brigade commissariat. An in-depth reference, composed by an author with a solid reputation for expertise, balance, and objectivity on the topic, Comrades and Commissars is a welcome addition to world and military history reference shelves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on March 28, 2012
Format: Library Binding
About the only complaint that I could make about this book is that in order to keep it a five hundred pages, it's printed in very small script making it a difficult read at time. Edy (who wrote a prequel in 1969) had been allowed to view the NKVD (KGB) files that had been hidden in the Lubyanka for over sixty years. Not only was he able to read what the Comintern agents who controlled the 'International Brigade' (IB) wrote, but the records of the battalions themselves were included in these records. Unsurprisingly, Edy determined that the Soviets considered it more important to have 'pure Leninism' as the basis for the brigade than to have fighting men. The commissars were foisted on the different units as a way to indoctrinate the 'volunteers' in the proper marxism per the Soviet Communist Party (read Stalin). Though 30 thousand men served in the Brigade, their strength was never more than 15K and only half of that were at the front at any one time.

Stalin had promised all types of military material but sent outdated tanks and few planes. Troops were trained with broomsticks and never saw or shot a gun until they were sent up to the front, sometimes within days of arriving in Spain. Many of the rifles the troops were issued had the Imperial Double Eagle of the Romanov Dynasty stamped on them. During their time at the front, the IBs suffered purges of Trotzkyites, Anarchists and other 'enemies of the state'. Those who didn't toe the CPUSA line found themselves in 'Labor Battalions' with criminals that had been cleaned out of Spanish jails. Many of the French who made up half of the IB, joined because they had been given the choice of death, life imprisonment or the IB. Many were drunks and degenerated who were more dangerous to the Spanish population than to the Falangists.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wilkinson on July 20, 2009
Format: Library Binding
This is probably the most interesting read on the SCW that I've come across.

I like the fact that the book specifically targets only the ALB and doesn't try to give a general history of the war which would be all but too much. If you are not in any way knowledgeable about the war, I recommend a general summary first before diving into this work.

I liked how it also does not give a politically-corrected view of the Republican side nor the Communist influence over the ALB.

Again, it covers only one aspect of the war, and that is the International Brigades and more specifically the A.L. Battalion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Cohen on May 10, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
This is totally the best book on the Spanish Civil War I have ever read and I am still in the middle of it. The author examines the heroism of the volunteers as well as the manipulations of them by the U.S. Communist Party and the Comintern. To me it proves that being on the "right side" (or in this case the "left side") does not make one an angel. The sources that Eby went through and brings to this book are amazing - from the comrades to the commissars - in moments of honesty the truth of what really went on comes out. The footnotes are just as interesting as the text. Having one friend of my family's who went to Spain and died in that war, this tale has a personal aspect, as well it was reflected in the Lincoln Battalion's songs which Pete Seeger spread across the USA. Now, in Eby's retrospect it is no longer easy to separate the good guys from the bad ones. It represented a beginning step for Hitler and Mussolini but also for Stalin - a0 curse on all their destructive lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian Moyer on June 14, 2012
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I have read many books on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and find this book to be the best ever written about The Lincoln Brigade. It is unbiased and it puts the Spanish Civil War on the level of the "Grunt" from the "Grunts" perspective. It shows the "human side of warfare",with individual acts of bravery as well as not only the Lincoln Brigades actions but also the othe brigades and battalions of the XV International Brigade. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about The Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War.
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Format: Library Binding
A retired history professor friend of mine once described the Spanish Republic of the 1930's as a strange animal. At the time we were discussing the odd coalition that came together to create it and we talked about the anarchists, communists, trade unions and other factions that combined to make up the Republican government.
Along with that strange government was the unusual coalition that fought the conservative forces led by Franco. One collection of groups that fought on the Republican side was the International Brigades, groups of volunteers that were anti-fascist at the least and often committed communists. The members of these groups came from all over the globe, there were anti-fascist Germans and Italians, a few Asians and one group that should be publicized more, the American members of the Lincoln Battalion.
These men violated U. S. law to travel to Spain and enlist in the Lincoln Battalion. They came from all over the country and their passports were confiscated when they arrived in Spain. They were held there until they were killed, wounded or released. Their casualty rate was very high, largely due to incompetent leadership and inadequate weapons. The governments of Germany and Italy sent military units with the latest equipment to fight on the Franco side, which largely led to their victory.
This book describes the horrific conditions that the men endured while fighting in Spain, regularly going without food and shelter while facing the fire of the enemy. What is most interesting about this book is the incompetent machinations that took place on the Republican side. Stalin sent some equipment and military advisors, but in true Stalin style he used the fighting to consolidate his control over international communist forces.
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