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Spanish Civil War: 4th Edition Paperback – International Edition, April 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"Mr. Thomas has understood [the Spanish Civil War] incredibly well and has written it superbly. A full, vivid and deeply serious treatment of a great subject."
–Vincent Sheean, The New York Times Book Review

"Stands without rivals as the most balanced and comprehensive book on the subject."
American Historical Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

A masterpiece of the historian?s art, Hugh Thomas?s The Spanish Civil War remains the best, most engrossing narrative of one of the most emblematic and misunderstood wars of the twentieth century. Revised and updated with significant new material, including new revelations about atrocities perpetrated against civilians by both sides in this epic conflict, this "definitive work on the subject" (Richard Bernstein, The New York Times) has been given a fresh face forty years after its initial publication in 1961. In brilliant, moving detail, Thomas analyzes a devastating conflict in which the hopes, dreams, and dogmas of a century exploded onto the battlefield. Like no other account, The Spanish Civil War dramatically reassembles the events that led a European nation, in a continent on the brink of world war, to divide against itself, bringing into play the machinations of Franco and Hitler, the bloodshed of Guernica, and the deeply inspiring heroics of those who rallied to the side of democracy. Communists, anarchists, monarchists, fascists, socialists, democrats -- the various forces of the Spanish Civil War composed a fabric of the twentieth century itself, and Thomas masterfully weaves the diffuse and fascinating threads of the war together in a manner that has established the book as a genuine classic of modern history. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1116 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; 4th edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141011610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141011615
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,570,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Adams on June 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a 1000+ page-turner. When I picked it up, I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War. This book definitely remedied that. Hugh Thomas begins shortly before the outbreak of the war and tells the story through to its completion (essentially 1936-1939). It is somewhat long, but the story itself is so compelling and Thomas' writing so good that it sucked me in and moved along nicely.
I have only a couple of gripes. First, if someone wants a short introduction, this may not be the book. I am sure there are other titles out there that will give you the basic facts in less time. As I said, however, reading the book was entertaining enough that I did not mind at all. As an example of an interesting factoid that emerges from this book, it seems that a substantial portion of the treasure from America that Spain won in the 16th century was given to the Soviets for safe-keeping. It is still there.
Second, while the book is strong on narrative, it is a little bit weak in analysis. What is especially lacking is an understanding of the factors that led to the outbreak of war in the first place. The books starts with a short chapter describing Spain in the early 20th century and plunges directly into the events leading up to the war. While the suspense before the outbreak of the war is palpable, the basic question of why a country would degenerate into civil war is hardly touched. In fairness to the author, he may have deliberately chosen to focus on the war itself rather than its causes. On the other hand, the discussion about why the Nationalists defeated the Republicans is fairly good. Two factors stand out. First, the Republicans were crippled by in-fighting amongst the factions, a fact that is admirably discussed. Second, the Nationalists received substantial help from abroad.
Author background: I am not a historian, but have read a handful of books on Spanish history.
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84 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Latta on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This 1994 edition (a 2nd or 3rd revision of the first edition put out c. 1980 I believe) is apparently not available because a newer revised edition is coming out in November 2001 with updated information no doubt--you should pick up this latest coming edition. Understanding the subject of the Spanish Civil War has been plagued by two major obstacles: 1) The use of the Spanish Civil war as merely a prelude to WWII by historians of the English speaking world, i.e., crudely lumping in Franco and the Nationalists as just a Spanish variation of Facism; this ignores the study of Spanish history in its own right and the unique and tragic facets of Iberian history; 2) The use and abuse of the Spanish Civil War as an ideological forum for anarchists and "Trotskyite" anti-Stalinist communists, again, mostly from the English speaking world. The biased accounts of Anglo/American/Canadian leftists of this period (as well as Hemingway's romanticized fiction) have distorted and confused the event in the eyes of the English-speaking world. Its good to see an English scholar clear up this mess. Thomas' account clearly delineates the various factions and their goals on both sides, pointing out that lack of unity and in-fighting of the various factions of the left-of-center Republican side (if "Republican" is even a proper term to use by the time the Stalinists were done with it) was probably more decisive in leading to its downfall than the outside pressure of the Nationalists (who were by no means unified in ideology, but greatly more cooperative amongst themselves than the Republicans). The "cowardly" stance of the Democratic Western countries is made understandable and must be seen in the context of their own instability and weakness of the time.Read more ›
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I moved to Barcelona, Spain in 1980, people were still talking about the Civil War. They had only recently been allowed public discussion of such topics since the death of the dictator, Franco. So, the war was still very recent for a lot of people.
I couldn't understand who all the factions were and what the background of this conflict was when listening to people talk about it. I found this book, read it and it told me everything I wanted to know. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this era of Spanish history. Very well-written and readable.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on April 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
THe Spanish Civil war is apparently one of the most written on moments of the 20th century, and even if this is true, this book stands out as one of the best full, one volume, histories of the event, which began in 1936 and ended in 1939. The war is fascinating because it pitted so many competeing ideologies against one another. It was a war of secular versus religious. Of Rural versus urban. Of fascist versus communist. of democracies(sort of) verus autocracy. It was in some ways a popular war versus militarism. It was a 'world war in minature' and a war of 'two revolutions'. Thomas is the best chronicler of this, and his higly readable account is must read for everyone interested in the origins of world war two or Spain, or world history in the 20th century.

The Spanish civil war was a defining experience not just for Spain but for the various administrations across Europe in the 30s. It saw the mass intervetnion of both Stalins Russia and Mussoluni and Hitler. it saw international brigades raised across Europe to fight for one side or another and one found in Spain German communists, having come from exile in spain, fighting against the German condor legion. Thomas's is slightly weak on his exploration of the origin of the war, perhaps because he does not weight the sheer chaos that was taking place, in part this is due to hsi non-judgemental method of writing, and he should be praised, but one wonders, why he does not give a better detail of just how total chaos had gripped the countyrside in 1936. He seems to underestimate the red terror, but in the end he is quick to see that both Franco and the Communists wanted only dictatorship in the end, their was no good in the war, only bad, and the end could only be negative. A fascinating account about a fascinating topic.
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