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The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Paperback – June 1, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


This book is destined for the first rank of general histories of the [Spanish] Civil War. (Santos Juliß, El Pafs)

About the Author

Antony Beevor a ete officier de carriere dans l armee britannique. Depuis vingt ans, il se consacre comme ecrivain a l histoire du xxesiecle et particulierement a la Seconde Guerre mondiale, dont il est devenu un expert inconteste. Il a publie en France Stalingrad (1999) et La Chute de Berlin ( 2004) (tous deux chez De Fallois), et, chez Calmann-Levy, Le Mystere Olga Tchekhova (2005), La Guerre d Espagne (2006), D-Day et la Bataille de Normandie (2009) et un recueil commente des Carnets de Guerre de Vassili Grossman (2007). Il a recu de nombreux prix et a vendu plus de cinq millions d exemplaires de ses uvres en trente langues. Il est professeur honoris causa des universites de Kent et de Bath et a preside la Societe des Auteurs britannique.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014303765X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037651
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The Battle For Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 is a book that focuses on not just the causes of the conflict and military actions taken during it, but also on the ideals, goals and politics that shaped the two sides.

The facts of the war have always interested me and the author does a good job of adding new and updated information. I knew that the German pilots used the war to try out new tactics, like flying in pairs and mass bombing, but I didn't know that the Stuka dive-bomber was first used in the Spain or that the 88mms were used in Spain against ground targets as while as enemy aircraft (I thought the German 88mms were first used against ground targets in the invasion of France). I knew Germany and Italy helped the Nationalists while Russia and Mexico helped the Republic but had no idea that Hermann Goring sold weapons to the Republic or that Ford, Studebaker and GM supplied 12,000 trucks to Franco!

I did not know that Franco offered to enter the Second World War on the side of the Axis. I knew about the Spanish Blue Division but not about the thousands of Spanish Republicans who fought for the USSR or the French resistance.

First person accounts from Russian sources add new perspectives. Now, in all the sad detail, we can watch the infighting between socialists, anarchists, republicans, Basque nationalists, communists and so many other groups within the Republican Zone. We can watch the lies, the back stabbing, the tactics of terror, the dehumanization of the enemy, the string pulling, the blackmailing, the killings and the consequences of said actions as the war rages on. And the National Zone isn't a paradise either, with war trials that started almost with the first shot and did not end till sometime in the late 1950s.
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Format: Paperback
The Battle for Spain begins with a brief overview of Spanish history before plunging into the complicated political and military struggle that ravaged Spain for three years. This overview helps set the table, and prepares the reader for Beevor's evanhandedness. Beevor manages to keep clear of most of the mythologizing connected with the war, while lending his calm and occasionally understated style to the debunking of many myths promulgated by both sides.

This book is very useful for the detail with which Beevor treats the political developments in Spain and internationally. Franco's political manuvering, which achieved his primacy among the Nationalists by 1937, are deftly described. The infighting among the Republicans, especially the Catalonia-Madrid squabbling and its corrosive effect on the Republican cause, are also masterfully covered. I appreciated Beevor's allowing the sheer numbers of the civilian casualties, especially those killed in massacres by Nationalist and Republican troops, to speak for themselves.

Who comes off badly in this history? Franco is politically astute, and militarily obtuse. The Nationalist generals range in performance from the stolid to the careless. One of the great assets that the Nationalist cause had was the insistence of the Communist faction among the Republicans on "political offensives" that squandered the men and treasure of the Republican army.

While I think highly of this book, I would recommend Ian Westwell's "Condor Legion: The Wehrmacht's Training Ground" as a companion book for those with more interest in the military aspects of the war. One unfortunate lack in the book is a comparative table of the forces and equipment supplied by the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The maps in Westwell's book are easier to follow, but lack some of the unit detail in Beevor's.

Altogether this is a superb introduction to this harrowing conflict.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book, which has received much well deserved praise. Rather than repeating the praise, I would like to take up a few points which I feel a good editor would have corrected:

In a book of this kind there is necessarily much numerical information (men, arms etc for both sides), yet the book does not contain a single table. In this second edition there are maps, but all without scale. There are also battles described in the text which do not have any corresponding map.

The German and Italian support in getting the Army of Africa across from Morocco was extremely important for the nationalists. However, the information about this support is partly too scattered and partly incomplete (relative to much other information in the book). First, tha composition of the Army of Africa is not given in the text, only in the notes (p.459) Second, the German Ju52 planes airlifted the major part of the soldiers. On p. 64 it says that Franco asked for ten planes, on p.137 it says Hitler gave twice the number asked for. I suspect I am not the only one who had forgotten the original request when I reached p. 137. How did the Ju52s reach Africa? The distance from Germany is larger than he normal range of Ju52.

Thirdly, the German naval assistance. On p. 73 the "convoy of victory" was screened by two German pocket battle ships, on p.117 they screened convoys (plural). How come they were there at that time? When did they get their orders? From Hitler (as for the planes)?

Population: Is not given for Spain around 1936. Latest figure for early 1900s. It says that there was a significant rise in the birth rate durin WW1 "which would have its effect twenty yers later". This later effect is not described anywere.

Franco is not much described.
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