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Homage to Catalonia Paperback – October 22, 1980

ISBN-13: 978-0156421171 ISBN-10: 0156421178

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 22, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156421178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156421171
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I wonder what is the appropriate first action when you come from a country at war and set foot on peaceful soil. Mine was to rush to the tobacco-kiosk and buy as many cigars and cigarettes as I could stuff into my pockets." Most war correspondents observe wars and then tell stories about the battles, the soldiers and the civilians. George Orwell--novelist, journalist, sometime socialist--actually traded his press pass for a uniform and fought against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 and 1937. He put his politics and his formidable conscience to the toughest tests during those days in the trenches in the Catalan section of Spain. Then, after nearly getting killed, he went back to England and wrote a gripping account of his experiences, as well as a complex analysis of the political machinations that led to the defeat of the socialist Republicans and the victory of the Fascists.


An unrivalled picture of the rumours, suspicions and treachery of civil war -- Anthony Beevor A war story that is both brutally honest and lyrically beautiful Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950) was born in India and served with the Imperial Police in Burma before joining the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was the author of six novels as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended; worth reading if you are interested in history, or Orwell, or both.
J. Schwartz
George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia is an amazing look at the Spanish Civil War from one of its participants written within six months of the incidents described.
Ricky Hunter
The fact that the book can lead you to think about questions like that is what makes Orwell's writing unique and very timely, even in 2012.
Henry I. Gonzalez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Generalissimo Francisco Franco's fascist troops invaded Spain in July 1936 in order to overthrow the newly established Republic headed by the Popular Front, (composed of liberal democrats, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists, communists and secularists). The country was basically divided into Red Spain - the Republicans, and Black Spain, represented by the landed elite, committed to a feudal system and Franco's cause, Fascists, the urban bourgeoisie, the Roman Catholic Church, and other conservative sectors. The number of casualties is only an estimate, but suggests that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed. Many of these deaths, however, were not the results of military battles, but the outcome of brutal mass executions perpetrated by both sides.

During the war in Spain, approximately 38,000 non-Spanish, anti-fascist volunteers from fifty-two countries, took up arms to defend the Republican cause against Franco, who was aided by Hitler and Mussolini. Twenty-eight hundred Americans, in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, fought here alongside their Spanish and international comrades-in-arms from 1937 through 1938. These men and women believed the defense of the Republic represented the last hope of stopping the spread of international fascism. Most of the volunteers were not political, but idealists who were determined to "make Madrid the tomb of fascism." English novelist, essayist, and critic, George Orwell was one of them.

Orwell was not just a writer, he was a partisan and he was a political idealist. A revolutionary Socialist, not a Communist, he was affiliated with the Independent Labor Party (I.L.P.). Orwell originally traveled to Spain in 1937 to observe and to write, but he almost immediately enlisted in the militia as a private.
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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful By M. Friedman on December 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Homage to Catalonia may be the most important book I ever read. Important because it is the book that inspired me to become a journalist, a writer and a teacher.
On the surface, this book is a reportage of the Spanish Civil War. It deals, of course, with the politics, some of the military strategy, and the deep social divisions of the period. More importantly, however, it is the story of how an idealistic, naive, but brilliant man discovered personal truths about war, politics and humanity.
As a history of the Spanish Civil War, it is probably suspect. Orwell was isolated in Catalonia, affiliated with the POUM, a far-left revolutionary Marxist party led by Andres Nin [not Durutti who was, in fact, commander of the Anarchist CNT's militia], and a foreigner. He didn't see enough of the war to write its definitive history.
However, that's not the task Orwell sets for himself. Rather, this is a chronicle of idealistic young men and women in dark times. It is a tale of the promise of revolution and its betrayal by power. Homage to Catalonia is a story of deep humanity about the dignity of man, home, and disillusionment.
It is a great book.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's been said that George Orwell is every conservative's favorite liberal and every liberal's favorite conservative. This book likely did more to create that sentiment than any of Orwell's other works.

"Homage to Catalonia" is the story of Orwell's experience fighting in Spain, during 1936 and 1937, against Franco's forces that were seeking to overthrow the Spanish government. Orwell originally traveled to Spain simply to report on the war as a journalist, but falling in love with the people of Catalonia and their revolutionary, honestly egalitarian spirit, Orwell joined the Workers' Party of Marxist Unity (POUM) militia.

Once enlisted, Orwell traveled to the front lines of the fight in Catalonia. His observations of life on the front-line and the daily struggles for a soldier during war are at times funny, fascinating, and depressing. Remarking on war, especially the politics of war, Orwell writes, "I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful;" yet Orwell seems supernaturally honest throughout this book.

After risking his life for the socialist cause he believed in, even being shot in the neck, Orwell eventually realized that many people he once assumed were fighting for the same anti-Fascist cause as he were really no different than the enemy he was fighting. The anti-Fascist soldiers were generally divided into Anarchists (who believed that a Marxist revolution should be the immediate goal) and Communists (who believed that the Fascists must be defeated first and the Marxist revolution addressed after that).
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. Maurer on February 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An editor from Slate magazine stated that "Homage to Catalonia" was one of his top three non-fiction books. That's a strong claim, and also what motivated me to download this to the Kindle.

Orwell paints a vivid picture of the Spanish civil war prior to WWII. It is well written and a compelling read. Orwell travels from Britain to Spain and joins the Independent Labor Party and POUM [...] anti-fascist army in the fight against dictator Francisco Franco. His detailed descriptions of fighting on the front with ill-prepared comrades and antiquated weapons provide a palpable sense for trench warfare.

At a few points in the book, Orwell departs the narrative and provides deep political analysis of the interactions between the PSUC, PCE, POUM and the various societal components of Spain at the time (bourgeois, farmers, workers, the Basques, etc). For the detail-oriented buff of Spanish history, these would no doubt be valuable nuggets, but I admit that I found these sections pretty dry and that I longed for the return of the story line. Suffice it to say that the political and social landscape in Spain around 1936 was extremely complex on one hand, and yet simplistic with regard to the world view of the rise of fascism elsewhere.

Homage to Catalonia gave me perspective that I'd not had prior, and first-hand perspective regarding the views of Orwell himself. Recommended, but I'd fall shy of calling it one of the top non-fiction books.

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