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Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War (Annals of Communism Series) First Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300089813
ISBN-10: 0300089813
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Few events in the 20th century have evoked such bitter academic and personal controversy as the role of the Soviet-dominated Communist International(Comintern) in the Spanish civil war. As the introduction to this splendid collection of Comintern documents explains, "the difficulty...has lain in proving the common allegation about Soviet intentions." This rich trove of archival correspondence between Soviet representatives and Moscow provides definitive answers. Perhaps least surprising is the obsessive concern on the part of the Communists with "Trotskyist" and anarchist allies of the Loyalist government. Comintern contempt for the Loyalist government and the "sectarian" Spanish Communist Party confirms Moscow's objective of domination before victory over the fascist rebellion. Indeed, Comintern leader Georgi Dimitrov advises that the "guise of defending the Republic" should not be compromised by premature efforts to install a "dictatorship of the proletariat." For historians, this correspondence offers detailed and multiple reports for the duration of the war. Soviet agents such as Dimitrov, Andre Marty, Ernest Gero, and Palmiro Togliatti anticipated Stalinist tactics in postwar Europe. The editors offer commentary that helps explain the complex panorama of the war and the impact of Soviet decisions on its outcome. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. [July is the 65th anniversary of the civil war's beginning. Ed.] Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Eri.
- Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Everything that was ever suspected about the Comintern line in Spain turns out to have been true." -- Christopher Hitchens, Wilson Quarterly

"If Spain were Vietnam [the pages of Spain Betrayed] would be its Pentagon Papers." -- Sam Tanenhaus,Vanity Fair

"It will effect a complete overturn in historical perceptions of the twentieth-century Left." -- Stephen Schwartz, Weekly Standard

"Spain Betrayed gives the weight and substance of documentary evidence to a subject that has always provoked deep feeling." -- Richard Bernstein, New York Times

"This rich trove of archival correspondence between Soviet representatives and Moscow provides definitive answers. . . . Highly recommended." -- Zachary T. Irwin, Library Journal

"[In Spain Betrayed,] proof of how Stalin had been betraying the Spanish Republican from day one of the Civil War." -- Arnold Beichman, Washington Times

"[Spain Betrayed] deserves the highest commendation for presenting an absolutely unique trove of original documentation…[like] no other previous work." -- Stanley G. Payne, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[T]his book is a highly useful map through the thicket of deceit that often passes for scholarship on the war." -- Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal

This documentary collection, introduced by summary and interpretation, is truly extraordinary and will be a major resource. --Choice

The opening of archives in the former Soviet Union has, in recent years, allowed the publication of a number of books on the Spanish Civil War, which have forced many to reconsider the role of the Soviet Union and the Comintern in the Iberian conflict: far for being, as Stalin put it, "the concern of all progressive humanity", the war proved instead to be a golden opportunity for Moscow alone, who ruthlessly exploited the Spanish Republic, both politically and financially. "Spain Betrayed" is a very important contribution to this line of scholarship, providing us with eighty select documents (at least one, General Kléber's report, nearly one-hundred pages long), a bonanza for many a scholar, an for sure a matter of concern for others. The documents shed a lot of light on how the soviets operated in Spain, confirming a lot of things that we already know, and giving the lie to others. For example, the much vaunted "solidarity" of the members of the International Brigades with their Spanish colleagues, was often just propaganda, as proven by the report of General Walter. It is unfortunate that, for commercial reasons, a book can be only of a certain size, since Spain Betrayed publishes but the tip of the documentary iceberg on the Spanish Civil War made available after the fall of the Berlin wall. To be fair, compared to other books of the "Annals of Communism" series, this one appears to be somewhat under-edited: in a number of instances, there are no endnotes explaining who are certain people who appear in the text of the documents (such as Ilio Barontini o Carlo Penchienati), and one can be pretty sure that this will become an issue for those ideologically hostile to the book. In my opinion, however, all the above does not diminish the value of the book's contents, even if some people are bound to wring their hands over it. --By A Customer

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Product Details

  • Series: Annals of Communism Series
  • Hardcover: 537 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300089813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300089813
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another wonderful volume in the very important Annals of Communism series published by Yale University Press. I can't praise this series enough for the service they have provided us in every one of these volumes.
This book provides, in English translation, 81 important documents of the true Soviet actions in its participation in the Spanish Civil War. Historians will have to make the final judgments and assessments of this material. But I am glad to have the myth of the idealistic Soviet exposed for the lie it always was.
Just as an example of what we learn, we now understand Stalin's desire and success at basically stealing the $50,000,000 Spain had in gold reserves. by shipping Spain outdated and non-functioning military junk as arms. We also know that the French, in effect, supported the Nazi's by interdicting other Soviet arms shipments to the Republic.
There is much more valuable information between the covers of this wonderful book. It reads shorter than its five-hundred plus pages because the documents can be read quickly and the commentary on them is completely fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
Ron Radosh, whose own uncle, Irving Keith died in fighting the Fascists in Spain, has written a gripping, if ponderous, terrifying if also mundane account of the Stalinist grip on the Republic of Spain.

In a series of documents, culled from the former Soviet archives, Radosh spins a thoroughly believeable tale of cunning, avarice, deceit and betrayal not only of the Spanish Republic, but of the thousands of idealistic young men - the vast majority of them Communists - who flocked to Spain believing that MOTHER RUSSIA was the great white hope of stopping Hitlerism in its tracks. And thousands died, never knowing of the deals that pockmarked scum toady was making with Herr Hitler.

Radosh also presents the documents of those International Brigade men who went to Spain fighting for Democracy and Revolution, and when they found out that the revolution and fight against Fascism had been betrayed, they themselves were arrested and many shot. Close to a dozen Americans were shot by the GPU, some on charges of desertion, others like Albert Wallach, Vernon Selby, Marvin Stern and Harry Perchik on political grounds. Even non-Communist Lincoln Brigaders like one-time commander Philip Detro, a self-described Roosevelt Democrat, may have been terminated by a Party that was little tolerant of dissent.

One of the foremost documents Radosh features is one written by "M. Fred" M. Fred was Manfred Stern or Emil Kleber the vaunted General Emilio Kleber who saved Madrid during the November 1936 siege. Kleber writes a critical document, encompassing almost 75 pages, justifying his role in the International Brigades and acknowledging mistakes.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't let Ron Radosh's move to the political right discredit the

value of this book from a leftwing point of view. The documents

are of value in themselves. To over-simplify a bit, there were

really three sides to the Spanish Civil War. It wasn't just

a civil war but a working class revolution. Spain in the '30s

had a vast revolutionary labor movement. The industrialists,

land-owning oligarchy, Church leaders and generals backed a

violent "final solution" aiming at the extermination of this

movement. But the Communists had very little support within the

Spanish working class. The main social force was an anarchist-

inspired union movement, together with socialist unions

mostly outside the control of the Communist Party.

An interesting aspect of this book are the documents that

give the assessment of the non-Communist left from

the point of view of Stalin's agents. From the point of view of

the workers who built the first labor militias to fight the

fascist army, the war was a class war, a revolutionary war.

Radosh's book shows clearly that the Communists aimed to create

a one-party totalitarian state in Spain, if Franco had been

defeated. To do this they had to crush the authentic Spanish

working class left. It's strategy was to use the leverage it got

from the Soviet Union's arms shipments to Spain to first create

a conventional hierarchical army to replace the initial labor

militias and then eventually capture control of the state by

gaining control of the army officer corps. The documents in this

book, from the Soviet archives, provide evidence to support this

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I saw this book as I was browsing one day and I had to get it. The Spanish Civil War has always intrigued me because I think if the Republicans had won, World War II may not have happened. So to see a book that describes how Stalin used Spain as his own little playground and piggy bank was very intriguing to me. Ordinarily, I would not have bought a book this long with these types of sources. I would have dismissed a book like this as untrue propaganda. But in this case, there is no way that any of the things in here are lies. The anti-Stalinist feelings of the authors are definitely dominant in the tone of the beginning of each section. But, I mean, it's STALIN we're talking about here, not some two bit amateur sociopath. So I respect the bias of the book. I like the fact that the telegrams and cables in the book are actually REAL, so the reader could see what Stalin and his comrades in crime were doing to the people of Spain. The idea that Stalin could profit off of falsifications of exchange rates in money froom the Republic makes me hate him even more than I did before I read "Spain Betrayed". This book is amazing, very very well researched and documented, and if you are at all interested in Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Uinion, the Spanish Civil War, or all of the above, then you need to read Spain Betrayed. Overall, this book really shows that two dictators were victorious in the Spanish Civil War: Joseph Stalin and Francisco Franco.
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