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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain Hardcover – April 16, 2012

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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain + The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge (Revised and Expanded Edition) + The Spanish Civil War: Revised Edition (Modern Library Paperbacks)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; y First American edition edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039306476X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064766
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Each well-laid, impeccably researched sentence of The Spanish Holocaust, Paul Preston's latest book on the Spanish Civil War, stands as a reminder of how Spain's Fascist past remains an unassimilable muddle; the story is so bloody and horrifying that it's easy, on one level, to grasp why today's Spaniards would just as soon relegate it all to a vague memorial blur. — Jonathan Blitzer


“Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust, is the most illuminating study I have seen of the complex, modern conflict that observers of Spain today still find difficult to understand. Anyone wanting to know modern Spain will read with great interest, this brilliant, well-informed analysis.” (John Brademas, author of Anarcosindicalismo y revolución en España, 1930-37)

“Magisterial account... it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come.” (Adam Hochschild - New York Times Book Review)

“A harrowing and moving account of the immense terror and enormous atrocities, especially perpetrated by General Franco's followers, during and after the Spanish Civil War, meticulously researched and superbly written by an outstanding historian.” (Ian Kershaw)

“Paul Preston is the outstanding scholar of Spain's Civil War, and The Spanish Holocaust, is unquestionably his opus magnus. For the first time, the horror of the Spanish conflict has been placed in its appropriate historical context. As documented by Preston in this moving, brilliantly rendered account, Spain was not only the scene-setter for World War Two, but also the proving ground for the campaigns of mass-murder that became its ghastly hallmark. A deeply important, powerful work of history.” (Jon Lee Anderson)

“What Preston knows about the years of civil war, 1936-1939, is astounding… Preston’s work is a powerful intervention in a Spanish discussion. It’s significance transcends the events it brings to light, and suggests some basic re-evaluations of recent European history.” (Thomas Snyder - The New Republic)

“Fascinating... Unflinchingly, Preston sifts through the pillage, torture, and mass executions of this bleak chapter in Spanish history.” (New Yorker)

“Monumental study... [The Spanish Holocaust] directly links Spain’s Nationalists to the Nazi regime, stressing that Franco’s reign of terror, like that of Hitler and Goebbels, was carefully planned and systematically executed.... The Spanish Holocaust draws on Preston’s vast research, as well as scores of recent historical studies, to establish the most accurate possible estimates of numbers of Spanish victims—statistics that, ever since the outbreak of the war, have been notoriously subject to manipulation and distortion.... [Preston] has produced an indispensable, important book.” (Sebastiaan Faber - The Volunteer)

Customer Reviews

They didn't stand a chance against the right.
Read the book by all means, but keep in mind that the arguments and factual allegations of Preston have been demolished by serious historians not available in English.
Franco's fascists were united as one but their opponents were not.
James Guinnessey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 46 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on June 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an exhausting and emotionally draining book that has a narrow but immensely important goal: to document the nature and extent of atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War. Preston has spent a long career documenting various aspects of twentieth century Spain, primarily the Civil War. I would call this important book a culmination of his career because he is able to give witness to the hundreds of thousands of victims slaughtered during and after the Civil War.

This book brings together immense amounts of research and archeology by others designed to document exactly who died where under what circumstances. Because the Nationalists (called the rebels throughout the book), who were responsible for most of the killings refused to allow any investigation of atrocities not caused by the Republicans it has only been since the death of Franco that any serious research has been conducted. The investigations continue, despite laws that prohibit pursuing the perpetrators in court.

This book is a chronological description of the deaths, tortures and imprisonments caused by the rebels alternating with sections on abuses caused in Republican Spain. Unlike the other books I have read by this author, this book makes no attempt to provide a bigger picture or context to the violence. Again, this book has a very narrow and focused purpose: to document the atrocities, the holocaust.

Much of the critical response to this book has focused on the title, and his use of the highly charged word holocaust. In the prologue Preston explains why no other word in the English language adequately conveys the widespread, intentional violence committed against a largely civilian population.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By zeofredo on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have finally had a chance to read this book. Prior to this I must say I was fascinated by the hateful nature of the reviews on here that wholly dismiss it as Leftist biased, or who eagerly push other material on those of us who just want some idea of this book's validity. I think this speaks more about the spiteful and self-preserving instincts of such lost souls rather than about what Preston has written. Actually, though, they seem to illustrate a crucial tenet of the civil war: hell hath no fury like a reactionary scorned.

One thing I realized from reading about the 'Spanish Holocaust' (learn about Preston's reasons for carefully choosing this title in the preface) is that the casualties of this civil war were far more numerous and unspeakable on the rebel side than the republican side. That much would be clear no matter how you want to boil it down to statistics or records which hadn't already been wantonly destroyed by the fascists. This clear and unflinching text is often gutwrenching in its descriptions of violent acts; both sides certainly contributed to the body count, but again it becomes apparent that those who identify with tradition and values of 'hearth and home' undeniably perpetrated the most glaring atrocities.

While we know much about Germany and Italy at this time, it is utterly tragic that Spain's inner conflict is so misunderstood and overlooked today. This book does a great job of laying it out and detailing the passage of events up to and throughout the civil war. I think it's worthwhile to study this subject because there are many parallels with the breakdowns (imminent or underway) of many Western nations now. Much as authoritarians like to warn us of a dangerous and violent underclass that needs to be subdued and controlled, they are themselves the true instigators of violent acts in all significant cases. They are after all much better armed and connected than a few piffling insurrectionists.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By wanda on October 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The author of this 700+ page history of the Spanish civil war is the foremost scholar of Spanish history in the U.K. This book is not easy reading, in more than one sense. First, the writing is dense and chapters go on and on forever in unrelieved narrative for 40-50 pages. My eyes simply got tired reading more than 15 pages in a sitting. The editors at Harper should have advised him to make his text a bit more readable. Second, the book presumes that the reader knows as much about Spanish history as Preston, so he fails to explain many contextual matters and issues (e.g. difference between the various guards), while at the same time peppering us with a blizzard of names and places that begin to blur in the brain.
Third, the horrific circumstances in which many people, mostly civilians, died at the hands of Franco supporters, after suffering humiliation and torture, is so unrelieved that readers may feel overwhelmed by the cruelty of the events portrayed.
Fourth, I think that it is misnamed. One cannot call everything a genocide or a holocaust. And the Spanish civil war was neither. Cruel though events were that shattered this country, there was no actual plan to exterminate any one single group - except those "who do not think as we do."
Preston describes the absolute loathing that Franco and his friends (landowners, the army) had for the "lower classes" and he roundly calls to task the Catholic Church which had a near racist hatred for anyone " who do not think as we do" and whose leaders were hell bent on destroying them. Anti-Semitism abounds.
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