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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.

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 (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,489,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 107 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 92 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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on July 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those massive, serious books you mean to read (to impress yourself as much as learn what's in it). I have had it for years on my list, but never had the courage to crack it until recently. Happily, once I started it, I simply could not put it down, even though it took me months to read.

The situation in Spain in 1936, when the civil war began, was dauntingly complex. On the right, there were the traditionalists, including monarchists, staunch catholics, industrialists, militarists seeking glory for Spain in Morocco, and various fascists and authoritarians opposed to the idea of a republic. They were divided into a multitude of parties, factions, charismatic leaders, and simple brutes. On the other side was a collection even more fractious of anarchists, communists, socialists, marxists, liberal democrats, atheists, and left-leaning regional liberation movements. Caught somewhere in the middle were separatists in the Basque regions and Catalonia - the only industrialized regions of Spain - and the emerging middle classes. This added up (perhaps) to more political parties than existed in Weimar Germany, along with Italy its coeval in poorly united nations that were seeking a clear identity in the 1920s.

At this time, many of the old certainties were in precipitous decline due to local historical factors. First, after the Inquisition and in spite of the many flowerings that sprung from the counter-Reformations (e.g. the Jesuits), the Catholic church had grown rigid and in many quarters was murderously despised. It could offer no leadership and little comfort in the face of the upheavals that the republic was experiencing. Second, the monarchy was decadent and incompetent, a shell that had been in decline since the apogee of the 17th C.
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