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The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War Paperback – April 1, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carroll ( Keeping Time: Memory, Nostalgia, and the Art of History ) skillfully melds the simple brutality of the Spanish Civil War with the human complexity of the 2800 American volunteers who fought in it from 1937 to 1939. Known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, most of these Americans were Communists who saw themselves as liberators and antifascists. After portraying their diverse, Depression-era backgrounds, Carroll follows them into battle in Spain where one-third died and nearly all were wounded. Almost half had no previous military experience, and the oral accounts of 200 contemporary survivors tell heartbreaking stories of slaughter. Meanwhile, as the U.S. government stressed nonintervention, observers assessed the fight as a "laboratory for the weapons of the next war." Surviving Lincolns returned as outcasts, facing indictments by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and, only through persistent idealism, did the Lincolns sustain their fight and maintain the right to protest publicly. Not until 1965 was the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade removed from the list of subversive organizations, ending 25 years of harassment. The breadth, depth and humanity Carroll depicts set this engrossing work apart from other juiceless war reports.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Drawing on more than 100 oral histories, newly available Spanish civil war archives in Moscow, the major archival collections at Brandeis and Berkeley, and dozens of veterans' private collections, Carroll provides an overview of the experiences of some 2,800 U.S. volunteers during and after the 1930s struggle between Loyalists and Republicans in Spain. Odyssey combines political, military, and intellectual history: It traces the process through which U.S. volunteers were recruited to the cause; offers a vivid narrative of the bloody battles in which fully a third of the U.S. volunteers died; and then pursues the personal and political journeys of the survivors through World War II, McCarthyism, the civil rights and antiwar movements, and up to the present. Carroll analyzes the role of the U.S. Communist Party in organizing and leading the volunteers in Spain, as well as later divisions when some veterans rejected the party's positions. Dozens of portraits of individual veterans demonstrate clearly that the political consciousness and commitment that brought them to Spain in the thirties remained, for most of these men and women, an enduring source of strength and identity. Mary Carroll --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804722773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804722773
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas V. Millington on July 14, 1999
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Before reading Mr. Carroll's gripping book about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade I knew nothing about this group of brave individuals. Many right-wingers would like to have the public believe that the Abraham Lincoln Brigade did not exist at all, or rather that their role was minimal at best in the Spanish Civil War. Mr. Carroll presents us with an introduction to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, its members, their beliefs, and conflicts. In essence, it is a personal look at people who fought in a vicious war. Too often war and the passing of time has allowed certain events and people to be forgotten. Now, thanks to Mr. Carroll, the "Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade" will expose the adventures of these brave people to a new generation. It was not easy to make a decision to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the years leading up to World War II. Some of the members faced hostility upon their return to the United States. Mr. Carroll's book is full of informative and detailed explanations on the Brigade. I learned quite a bit from this book and I would like to thank Mr. Carroll for writing this book. It is important that the Abrahma Lincoln Brigade never be forgotten.
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Mr. Carroll's book about the saga of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade is an interesting insight into a part of American history that is lost. What is most interesting is his stories of the men and women who choose to fight and die in Spain and the reasons that they did. As a collection of personnel stories this book excels. These men and women went to Spain notwithstanding the antagonism of their country and the countries surrounding Spain and then returned to a suspicious nation that treated them as part of the red menace.
However, if one is expecting to get a history of the Spanish Civil War, or even an overview of the war, one will be disappointed.
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I read this book immediately after Marion Merriman's "American Commander".

This enabled me to read a book by a participant in the Lincoln Brigade followed by a serious scholar of the brigade. The fascinating aspect of this book is it follows lives of American volunteers into their senior years. It gives answers to questions about their role in World War II, in the Communist party and in other radical organizations, their persecution during the McCarthy period and Cold War, and their association as positive (self-disciplined) role models for the New Left. It high-lights African-American volunteers. Finally it gives a good analysis of the unit cohesion that permitted the Abraham Lincoln battalion and the XVth Brigade to become an elite military unit, both within the Loyalist Spanish army and in American military history. It is very sympathetic to the volunteers.
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History often never shared. So glad to be an adult to read what I want to. Always heard something about guys like this. They did a good deed based upon what they believed in.

Not always the most organized and equipped units. Clearly, this should another example where leaderships passions don't always mean great outcomes. Training. Practice. Education. Resources. Logistics. Win every war ... in the end.

Acommon1 commoner's thoughts.
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A truthful account of the men that joined the Lincolns. They came from all walks of life. The ratio of communists to capitalists was about 70% communist to 30% capitalist. These men lived in a vastly different time.
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While in graduate school, I wrote my thesis on foreign volunteers who traveled to Spain to fight for the Republic. This book was a great aid in my research. It tells the story of Americans who went off to fight in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. President Ronald Reagan said these men fought on the wrong side. Personally, I don't think so. You can read for yourself and decide. It is also a great book if you have any interests in the Spanish Civil War. Highly Recommened!
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I purchased this book as I recently found out that my uncle had served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. I did some other internet checking and pieced some of the story together. One story dealt with the men, the other the battles and others just not much of anything else. This one ties it all together.
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