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The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War Hardcover – January 1, 1950

ISBN-13: 978-0521043144 ISBN-10: 052104314X Edition: 2 Reprint

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 Reprint edition (January 1, 1950)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052104314X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521043144
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 7.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,628,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Written with wit, lucidity and a Gibbon-like sweep--as well as a human detail earned by years of living in southern Spain--it was an inspiration to such later historians as Raymond Carr and Hugh Thomas." Los Angeles Times Book Review

Book Description

Written during and immediately after the Spanish Civil War, this classic account of its background represents a struggle to see issues in Spanish politics objectively, despite the author's personal involvement. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By James E. Egolf VINE VOICE on April 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gerald Brenan's THE SPANISH LABYRINTH is a masterful account of the mosaic of the history and immediate events leading to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Brenan effectively deals with the complexities of Spanish political history from the end of the Napoleonic Wars (c. 1799-1815)to the start of the Spanish Civil War. Brenan is clear that the Spanish Civil War was the culmination of events of the early 19th century to 1936. In other words, he does not provide a "quick fix" to superficially explain these events. Another asset of this book is the fact that Brenan carefully examines the Spanish Civil War based on a precise review of Spanish Civil War. Brenan dismisses the notion that too many lazy historians use in describing the Spanish Civil War as one between righteous "Democracy" and wicked "Fascism."

Brenan is one of the few historians who gives the reader an explanation of how geogrpahy and climate affected Spain's political history. Since the 17th century, Spain was geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of Europe. Historically, Spain was forgotten by the rest of Europe. Brenan also gives the reader a geography of Spain's topography and climate regions. Parts of Spain were mountainous while other areas were flat plains. Some areas of Spain get adequet rainfall while other areas are semiarid at best. This geography lesson is important in understanding the reasons for Spain's political instability. Those Spanish farmers or peasants who lived in areas that were semiarid and had poor land were often those Spaniards who were more rebellious against the old monarchy and landlords. On the other hand, those Spanish farmers who lived in areas with decent rainfall and adequet rainfall, were less likely to rebel and were more conservative.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Only for those with an interest and some background in Spanish history and politics. Sets the stage for the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Well written and readable; the English author uses research as well as first-hand experience to paint the complex mosaic of Spanish political factions. In the last line of the epilogue he condemns the English policy of appeasement toward Hitler of allowing the Spanish Civil War to take place by not imposing an arms embargo against Germany. The Spanish fascists were allowed to import German arms and thus, eventually, maintain superior firepower over the Republicans.
Another piece in the history puzzle; worth reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lee Powell on June 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good background on the situation in Spain prior to the Civil War and the motivations of the various parties iinvolved, particularlyy on the Republican side. As a supporter of the Republican side, Brenan's bias shows tgrough, like when he says "there was little to choose between the political and military coompetence of either side". It gives light treament to the Falange, or to anti-communist patriots like Franco who were not part of the Falange, the Carlists, or the Monarchists but who played a decisive part in the war.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While Brenan was left-wing, he writes fairly, only missing two points (many people were devoted to the church, and to the right-wing cause -- not just forced conscripts) which he realized by the preface to the second edition. The background takes us through the land problem in particular, and how naturally anarchism fit into the Spanish viewpoint. The whole tradition of local and regional control comes through, both for anarchists and Carlists (on the right). The difference between anarchism (local) and socialist (central) is explained. By the time you're done, you understand how there was no middle ground, and how this was not going to be solved through representative government. It could only end in force and tragedy. After this, read Borkenau's Spanish Cockpit and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Paul Preston was fundamentally wrong when he wrote that Gerald Brenan provided the 'foundations of all modern scholarship on the Spanish Republic and Civil War': "While most contemporary writers were still playing with the simplistic notion that the Spanish war was a battle between fascism and communism, Brenan perceived that it was a fundamentally Spanish affair."
It was neither a battle between fascism and communism, nor a fundamentally Spanish affair.
The German and Italian intervention in Spain in July 1936 changed the nature, and the prospects, of the war. The government's, and people's, defence of the legitimately elected government against an attempted fascist coup became a war of national defence, waged by a sovereign nation against international fascist aggression. A matter internal to Spain became a matter of international concern.
The British government worked against further intervention, not against the growing German and Italian intervention, but against any French intervention in support of the Republic. When socialist Premier Leon Blum came to London on 22 July, Baldwin warned him that Britain would refuse to aid France if Germany or Italy attacked her because she was aiding Spain, and told him to ban at once the supply of arms to the Republic.

Blum did so. Later, too late, he admitted that prompt arms shipments could have saved the Republic and that non intervention had been idiotic.
The British Government wanted Hitler and Mussolini to win. Eden said that his Government "preferred a Rebel victory to a Republican victory." It aimed to deny the Republic the right to buy arms. From the start, it secretly embargoed arms exports to the Republic.
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