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The Spanish Civil War (Cambridge Essential Histories) Paperback – October 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Payne, drawing on his knowledge and research on Spanish history, has written a legible (rather than just academic) history of the origins, political and military development, and consequences of the Spanish Civil War. His familiarity with twentieth-century European history enables him to place it in a comparative perspective. An important and objective work that . . . will generate interesting debates." - Juan J. Linz, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political and Social Science, Yale University

"Stanley Payne has written a fine introductory history of the Spanish Civil War. Based on an unrivalled mastery of the huge historiography of the topic, Payne's volume convincingly dispels many of the myths that still surround the fratricidal conflict. It will be indispensable not just to students but to anyone interested in understanding one of the bitterest wars of the twentieth century." - Dr. Julius Ruiz, University of Edinburgh

"This is an extremely insightful book that has remarkably condensed analytical power. Payne's vast knowledge has generated an up-to-date and inclusive history of the Spanish conflict. He situates the Spanish Civil War in the context of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary confrontations in Europe, from the French Revolution to World War II. Furthermore, he succinctly and skillfully places the conflict within the long history of Spain. There is no better synthesis." - Michael Seidman, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

"It seems providential that one S. Payne should produce the most accomplished non-native writing on Spain's recent past. In his sixth decade of research, Stanley Payne has acquired wisdom beyond maturity. No living historian thinks so broadly or writes so cogently. Few authorities survey the scarred landscape of the tortured twentieth century with such a cool, forensic gaze. His standards of consideration and interpretation are elevated - and for readers, elevating. Perhaps surprisingly, this latest book is Payne's first comprehensive study of the Spanish Civil War. It prioritizes recent work without neglecting the packed storehouse of earlier scholarship. It should become an indispensable guide to its endlessly complex and supremely significant subject." - Rob Stradling, Professor Emeritus of History, Cardiff University

"Essential for interwar and/or modern Spain graduate collections. Highly recommended." -Choice

"Stanley Payne's study of the Spanish Civil War and the events leading up to that cataclysm is the latest work by one of America's premier historians of Europe." -Paul Gottfried, The American Conservative

Book Description

This book is the first general history of the Spanish Civil War to provide a clear and objective account of its origins in Spanish domestic affairs. It treats the most controversial issues - revolution, counterrevolution, political repressions, and foreign intervention and non-intervention, as well as giving a detailed examination of military affairs in a clear and objective perspective that is presented in non-technical terms for students and non-specialist readers.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Essential Histories
  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521174708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521174701
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gene T on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
Professor Payne has written an extraordinarily compact history of the struggle that captures its major elements and accompanies the story with sober analysis devoid of the polemics that tend to characterize other recent histories on the subject appearing in paperback.

The recounting of dramatic events is also placed in the international, domestic historical and cultural context essential for a better understanding of the overall conflict and the ideological extremes shaped by the confluence of these contextual factors.

Payne effectively takes on some of the sticky old myths that continue to appear in other new works. The facts he assembles and the cogent analysis of them avoid cavalier demonization and exculpation.

The book gave me a better appreciation of just how much the events surrounding the cataclysms reflected a genuine, bottom-up working class revolution. And likewise, the importance that Spain's own leftist parliamentary leaders and the Soviets placed on downplaying, for the outside world, the revolutionary aspects of the struggle they so laboriously sought to harness. The tactic, which never reflected abandonment by Stalin of longer term strategic aims, helped significantly to project a simplified image abroad of a conflict between liberal democracy with a social democratic slant and fascist tyranny.

Also interesting was Payne's depiction of how each side often managed to resist efforts of their foreign sponsors to move them in directions deemed contrary to their own goals or perceived interests. In reviewing some of the frequent critiques by military analysts of the handling of combat operations, the author likewise provides a variety of perspectives that help the reader better understand the dilemmas faced by each side at the time.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Butler, Jr. on December 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is eye opening. The Republicans won the world wide propaganda battle as surely as they lost the civil war. Mr. Payne makes it abundantly clear that the Republic of 1930s Spain was intolerant, autocratic and disorganized. And not above purging and assassinating their enemies at will. Does this make Franco charming and benevolent? Hardly, but his success in transforming Spain was amazing even if the result was certainly not quite what he intended.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By advokat on April 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
What follows is a short explanation why this book is a must for everyone remotely interested in the political and ideological history of the twentieth century.
There is a misconception that Britain has an inordinate number of fine historians of the Spanish Civil War. It does not. Preston's, Beevor's and Helen Graham's works are ideologically biased. In other areas and periods, you may have ideologically biased works that are still worth reading, In fact, often you get a much better picture reading writers from opposing sides. Not on the subject of the Spanish Civil war. Historically, the left-wing historiography was dedicated to defending massive lies propagated by the defeated side of the Spanish war. The conflict is a nice example of history being written by the losers. Hugh Thomas dutifully wrote the bromides current in Seventies, and has been left behind long ago. There was an exceptional British historian of the period, Richard Robinson, who wrote an outstanding book "Origins of Franco's Spain",Origins of Franco's Spain: The Right, the Republic and the Revolution, 1931-36 (Library of Policy & Society) ground-breaking work in many respects, and willfully ignored for the last thirty years. That leaves English-reading public with two Americans. The best (long) general work in English language, is still Burnett Bolloten The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution(be sure you get the edition with the introduction by Stanley Payne).
This book by Stanley Payne is, simply, the best short work on the subject in English. It introduces reader to polemics surrounding the subject, which is a fascinating field of study in its own right. He is firmly in the camp of Pio Moa, Ricardo de la Cierva and Cesar Vidal - that is to say, on the side of serious historians.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By LesLein on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Modern Times Revised Edition: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Perennial Classics), Paul Johnson writes that no event in the twentieth century was lied about than the Spanish Civil War. Johnson is a great popular historian, but he takes a conservative perspective and may have his own biases. That is why I bought this book.

The beauty of The Spanish Civil War is that Stanley Payne is a scholar in the truest sense of the word. He performs thorough research, presents information very well, and lets the facts speak for themselves. This book shows no political bias.

Anyone reading this review knows the traditional story line on the Spanish Civil War. The Republicans were a bunch of democrats who won a close democratic election. The fascists and the church rejected the results and started the civil war. Guernica was one of the worst atrocities of modern times. Franco established a fascist dictatorship.

Much of this is indeed wrong. It was mostly the Republicans who first resorted to violence. The Republicans won the 1936 elections through violence, mob rule, and political scheming. The right won the popular vote 47 to 46. Because of Spain's electoral system the Republicans won a majority in the Cortes (parliament). If the election had been fair, the rightists probably would have won.

Originally the rightists were not dominated by fascists. Spaniards started supporting the fascists because of Republican persecution. The vast majority of Republicans did not believe in democracy. They were dominated by communists, socialists, and anarchists. They wanted a "new type" of republic where only leftists could participate.
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