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Homage to Catalonia Paperback – December 29, 2014
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The text is well written, the images vivid, the characters well drawn. This is enlightening look at one of the darker chapters in history.
If you think US politics are confusing, wait till you try to sort out Spain in the 1930s. Did you know Northern Morocco was part of Spain then? Think you know where Socialists, Fascists and Anarchists are on the political map? You may end up using some of the blank pages to try to map all that out, because it is not that straight forward at all.
Orwell and his wife almost lost their lives there, both from government fascist forces and from socialist/communists. The latter perhaps more guilty of genocide in this case in terms of wiping out the Anarchists and using democratic process as a means to soviet communism. And Franco's Fascism persisted until his death in 1978...
This book also does an excellent job documenting what it was like to fight in the civil war at the front lines, and the interactions that they had with their "enemies". It also documents the political atmosphere of Spain, with the Russian and German support of factions in the civil war. And it gives an interesting insight into the culture of Catalonia. It doesn't document the abuses committed by the Catholic Church as much as I would have liked, but the focus of this book is Orwell's experiences, rather than trying to give a more complete picture of the Civil War (and thus having to rely on other people's accounts to fill in the gaps for what he wasn't able to observe).
So often authors (from all political views) turn into propaganda writers, refusing to criticize the political movements that they support. One of the reasons that Eric Blair / George Orwell is one of my favorite authors is his honesty and willingness to critique the left wing political movement. This is not a piece of propaganda, this is just a brutally honest first hand account of Eric Blair's experience as a member of "Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista" during the Spanish Civil war.