- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 29, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547973187
- ISBN-13: 978-0547973180
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 233 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#67,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #39 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Ideologies
- #61 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Fascism
- #82 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Communism & Socialism
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Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
Go behind the scenes of the Spanish Civil War with Adam Hochschild
Bob and Marion Merriman
Bob (right) and Marion (center) Merriman got married on the day they graduated from the University of Nevada in 1932. They then moved to Berkeley, where he was a graduate student. Bob later became commander of the first battalion of American volunteers in Spain. When he was wounded , Marion rushed there to help take care of him, then enlisted herself, doing clerical work at the International Brigades headquarters. Bob and Dave Doran (left) were last seen alive on April 2, 1938, leading a column of troops that was surrounded by Franco’s Nationalists. Their bodies were never found.
Credit: Harry Randall Fifteenth International Brigade Films and Photographs collection, courtesy of the Tamiment Library, New York University.
Just before the last great battle of the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of the Ebro, an American volunteer gets his hair cut. Americans fought in almost all the major campaigns of the war, from this one, in scorching heat measured one day at 98° F in the shade and 134° in the sun, to the capture of Teruel, in blizzards where the temperature once dropped to -18° F. Some 2800 Americans went to Spain, and about 750 were killed there. They came from 46 states and included the grandchildren of slaves, coal miners, a vaudeville acrobat, a rabbi, longshoremen, factory workers, and the son of a former governor of Ohio. The first American combat casualty was a senior from Swarthmore College.
Credit: Harry Randall Fifteenth International Brigade Films and Photographs collection, courtesy of the Tamiment Library, New York University.
George Orwell (center, tall), and his wife Eileen, surrounded by members of his militia unit, on a day she visited the front. Orwell served four months in the trenches, until he was hit by a bullet that passed through his neck, barely missing his carotid artery. Although his unit was a mixture of Spaniards and Britons, an American volunteer, Harry Milton of New York (crouching, with rifle), was standing next to him when he was wounded and helped stop the bleeding. Eileen worked in Barcelona in the same office as another American, Charles Orr. He and a British comrade were with her on the day she visited her husband at the front.
Credit: Hoover Institution Archives, Harry Milton Papers, Box 1.
We think of Franco’s allies as being in Rome and Berlin. But one of the most important was in an office high in the Chrysler Building in New York City. Torkild Rieber was CEO of Texaco—and a Fascist sympathizer. Rieber not only sold Franco’s Nationalists most of their oil, but violated American neutrality law by selling it on credit and sending it to Spain in American ships.
He also quietly gave Franco a huge discount, and supplied him with a secret stream of strategic intelligence. Spain in Our Hearts is the first time this full story has been told in English.
Credit: DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection.
“Excellent and involving . . . What makes [Hochschild’s] book so intimate and moving is its human scale.”
—Dwight Garner, New York Times
"With all due respect to Orwell, Spain in Our Hearts should supplant Homage to Catalonia as the best introduction to the conflict written in English. A humane and moving book, it is well-paced and meant to be read rather than studied."
“Admirable . . . an unusually well-written narrative, full of telling detail and vignettes that capture great human drama.”
—Wall Street Journal
“A commanding performance. Digging through archives, Hochschild finds characters whose lives … pull the war into tight, human-scale focus … After reading Hochschild’s book, it’s impossible to feel anything but admiration — and awe.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“The tragic story of the Americans in the doomed Lincoln Brigade . . . comes vividly to life in Adam Hochschild’s compelling ‘Spain in Our Hearts,’ a long-overdue book that explores this long-overlooked conflict.”
—Los Angeles Times
"By assembling a well-chosen set of individual narratives, many about figures who are relatively unknown, [Hochschild] captures why so many people thought the fate of the world might be decided by who won the conflict ... Consistently vivid ... Captivating."
—New York Times Book Review
"A vivid and level-headed new history of American participation in the Spanish Civil War."
—The New Yorker
“Excellent … Hochschild captures both the passionate, partisan views of particular combatants and the larger political currents that shaped their experiences. It’s a moving and useful investigation into the dangers and promises of idealism.”
— Christian Science Monitor
"Exemplary . . . Moving and powerful."
"The book’s narrative is driven by Hochschild’s deft handling of the personal stories, some heartbreaking, of a half dozen Americans . . . highly engaging . . . A book like Hochschild’s keeps their stories and spirit alive."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A sweeping, suspenseful, and somber chronicle of the Spanish Civil War … Mak[es] superb use of diaries and letters.”
— Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Hochschild tells the story of this heady time with moving, well-paced prose exploring both international policy and intensely personal experiences … Exceptional.”
— Los Angeles Review of Books
“A fine new chronicle of Americans … determined to do their part to fight fascism. One’s heart breaks to read what awaited them.”
— Dallas Morning News
“Brings history alive … Hochschild is a writer capable of making any topic interesting, relevant, and accessible … Spain in Our Hearts is a primer, a meditation, and a story of American adventure abroad.”
— Tampa Bay Times
“Well-paced … Closes on a poignant note of mourning and remembrance.”
— Boston Globe
“Hochschild is an exceptional writer; his narrative is well-paced, delivered in clear prose, and focused on important and colorful details of the historical moment.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A dramatically personal book . . . A vivid addition to twentieth-century European history collections.”
—Booklist, starred review
"A nuanced look at the messy international allegiances forged during the Spanish Civil War . . . Hochschild ably explores subtle shades of the conflict that contemporary authors and participants did not want to consider."
“George Orwell once explained that going to Spain, in 1936, ‘seemed the only conceivable thing to do.’ As soon as he got there, the right thing to do got a lot less clear. And how to write about it was immediately difficult, too. The twenty-eight hundred Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War felt the same way, as Adam Hochschild recounts in this rich and fascinating book. Few writers grapple so powerfully with the painful moral and ethical choices of past actors as does Hochschild, who brings to Spain in Our Hearts his exceptional talents — and his moral seriousness — as a reporter, as a historian, and as a writer.”
—JILL LEPORE, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman
“In this beautifully written portrait of Americans caught up in the Spanish Civil War, Adam Hochschild brings to brilliant life the heroism and horror of that fratricidal conflict. His account of the David-and-Goliath fight between the ragtag army of idealistic, pro-democracy volunteers and the mechanized, murderous forces of Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini is one of the most powerful narratives I have ever read.”
—LYNNE OLSON, author of Citizens of London
“Spain in Our Hearts is narrative non-fiction at its very best. Hochschild’s achievement is to make this trial-by-combat story come alive, as if it were happening now. It is impossible for a reader not to identify and feel compassion for those sons and daughters of America who risked and often gave their lives for a cause that could not ultimately prevail against the darker forces of Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin – and Texaco. A seamlessly-woven, unputdownable tapestry of war in Europe; intensely, unforgettably moving.”
—NIGEL HAMILTON, author of The Mantle of Command
“Beautifully written with a hawk-eye for the telling anecdote, Spain in Our Hearts constitutes an endlessly fascinating and utterly unputdownable survey of the war to defend democracy in Spain that was not only the first act of the Second World War but also, for many across the world, the last great cause.”
PAUL PRESTON, author of The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge
From the Inside Flap
For three crucial years in the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War dominated headlines in America and around the world, as volunteers flooded to Spain to help its democratic government fight off a Fascist uprising led by Francisco Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini. It was the centurys first modern, total war, but it was soon overshadowed by the world war that it helped introduce. Today it is mostly remembered through just a few classic accounts: Ernest Hemingways novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, George Orwells memoirs, Robert Capas photographs. But in Spain in Our Hearts, Adam Hochschild presents equally compelling characters and weaves their stories together to reveal the full tragedy and importance of the war.
Through the eyes of Lois Orr, a fiery nineteen-year-old Kentucky woman whose honeymoon in wartime Spain turned into an extended stay, we experience the blossoming of Barcelona as a workers utopia, before its dark descent into Stalinist purges. We meet a Swarthmore College senior who was the first American casualty in the battle for Madrid; a pair of fiercely partisan, rivalrous New York Times reporters who covered the war from opposite sides; and a swashbuckling Texas oilman with Nazi sympathies who sold Franco almost all his oilat reduced prices, and on credit. At the center of Hochschilds account is an American couple, widely admired on the wars front lines, and their inspiring, heartbreaking love story.
The Spanish Civil War was in many was the opening battle of World War II, and we still have much to learn from it. Spain in Our Hearts is Adam Hochschild at his very best.
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The war was between the Nationalists forces led by Francisco Franco. He went on to rule Spain until his death in the 197s. The Nationalists were backed by Pius XII and the Vatican, monarchists and rich businessmen and huge landowners. Texaco Oil supplied them with weapons and sided with their cause despite US legislation which prohibited dealing arms to countries at war. Opposing them was the present government communistic in its leading. The Republicans were backed by Soviet Russia receiving military aid and troops for Russia. Leading authors such as Ernest Hemingway, his lover Martha Gellhorn, John Dos Passos, Louis Fischer, Virginia Cowles and many others reported the war to the American people back home. The New York Times received reports from correspondents who favored either the Nationalists and the Republicans. Fighting was terrible; prisoners were usually executed. Scenes such as priests shooting republicans was normal. Atrocities occurred on both sides. Franco was getting aid from his friend Adolf Hitler while Stalin supported the Republic of Spain. In the end the Republicans were soundly defeated and Spain suffered under the puritanical and cruel dictatorship of Franco for many years.
Adam Hochschild is an award winning historian. He has interviewed many people who had ancestors who fought in Spain. The book is filled with anecdotes about the variety of Americans who fought in the Lincoln Brigade. Most of these troops were Communists and one-third lived in the New York area. Many were Jewish. Volunteers did come, though, from over forty US states. More than 7,000 served with hundreds being killed.
These stories are fascinating. The book has good maps, bibliography and footnotes. It is written in novelistic style which will be easily comprehended by general readers. The Spanish Civil War was the testing ground for weapons that would later be unleased by Hitler and Stalin on suffering Europe during the dark days of World War II. Well researched and written this work by an outstanding historian is a worthy addition to your history bookshelf!
There are other much more detailed histories of the Civil War. The eminent historian Anthony Beevor wrote one. So did Burnett Bolleton and Paul Preston, to name just a couple of lauded academic studies. Each provides useful analyses, especially Preston's prodigious book which focuses on the vast catalogue of crimes against humanity committed by Franco's regime. Still, Hochschild's book is the clearest, cleanest and readable for a general audience, at least compared to this limited sampling. The author does a nice job of illustrating the general by dissecting the particulars, focusing on individual volunteers for the ant-fascist cause. He exposes the bitter (and lethal) internecine conflicts that plagued the Internationalists and analyzes the Machiavellian and paranoid scheming of Stalinist Russia's sometimes contributions and varying degrees of support. Another previously underrated contributor to the success of the Francoist rebels was the intelligence and subterfuge engineered by Torkild Rieber, CEO of Texaco. This anti-Communist crusader undermined the supply effort (dilatory as it was), thereby critically damaging the Second Republic's logistics. In terms of deadly effect, his machinations rivaled those of Stalin. One might have expected (or hoped for) more than tepid support from western democracies, but (then as now) they were paralyzed into inactivity by fear, domestic opposition and general exhaustion from the recent Great War. All this is nicely woven into this narrative.
Hochschild's book is certainly worthwhile reading, not only because it provides a useful predicate for understanding the events leading to WW-2, but also for its perspectives on self-sacrifice and interwar politics. Much of this fails to resonate in the world of the early 21st century, where solipsism, narcissism and "gig economy" grasping for rewards seem to prevail according to many popular commentators. These volunteers were the selfless "hard core" of men and women who renounced their current standing for a chance to defeat real evil and (literally) make the world a better place for everyone, until disillusion and cynicism (merited) took over. Given a similar situation nowadays, are there others to take their place?
I wish I could give this rating as a strong 3.5 stars. But three stars will be my best.