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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain Hardcover – April 16, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Each well-laid, impeccably researched sentence of The Spanish Holocaust, Paul Preston's latest book on the Spanish Civil War, stands as a reminder of how Spain's Fascist past remains an unassimilable muddle; the story is so bloody and horrifying that it's easy, on one level, to grasp why today's Spaniards would just as soon relegate it all to a vague memorial blur. — Jonathan Blitzer

Review

Paul Preston 's The Spanish Holocaust, is the most illuminating study I have seen of the complex, modern conflict that observers of Spain today still find difficult to understand. Anyone wanting to know modern Spain will read with great interest, this brilliant, well-informed analysis. --John Brademas, author of "Anarcosindicalismo y revoluci n en Espa a, 1930-37"

Paul Preston's The Spanish Holocaust, is the most illuminating study I have seen of the complex, modern conflict that observers of Spain today still find difficult to understand. Anyone wanting to know modern Spain will read with great interest, this brilliant, well-informed analysis. --John Brademas, author of "Anarcosindicalismo y revolucion en Espana, 1930-37"

Paul Preston s The Spanish Holocaust, is the most illuminating study I have seen of the complex, modern conflict that observers of Spain today still find difficult to understand. Anyone wanting to know modern Spain will read with great interest, this brilliant, well-informed analysis. --John Brademas, author of Anarcosindicalismo y revolucion en Espana, 1930-37"

Magisterial account... it is bound to be an essential reference for anything written on the subject for years to come. --Adam Hochschild"

A harrowing and moving account of the immense terror and enormous atrocities, especially perpetrated by General Franco's followers, during and after the Spanish Civil War, meticulously researched and superbly written by an outstanding historian. --Ian Kershaw"

Paul Preston is the outstanding scholar of Spain's Civil War, and The Spanish Holocaust, is unquestionably his opus magnus. For the first time, the horror of the Spanish conflict has been placed in its appropriate historical context. As documented by Preston in this moving, brilliantly rendered account, Spain was not only the scene-setter for World War Two, but also the proving ground for the campaigns of mass-murder that became its ghastly hallmark. A deeply important, powerful work of history. --Jon Lee Anderson"

What Preston knows about the years of civil war, 1936-1939, is astounding Preston s work is a powerful intervention in a Spanish discussion. It s significance transcends the events it brings to light, and suggests some basic re-evaluations of recent European history. --Thomas Snyder"

Fascinating... Unflinchingly, Preston sifts through the pillage, torture, and mass executions of this bleak chapter in Spanish history. "

Monumental study... [The Spanish Holocaust] directly links Spain s Nationalists to the Nazi regime, stressing that Franco s reign of terror, like that of Hitler and Goebbels, was carefully planned and systematically executed.... The Spanish Holocaust draws on Preston s vast research, as well as scores of recent historical studies, to establish the most accurate possible estimates of numbers of Spanish victims statistics that, ever since the outbreak of the war, have been notoriously subject to manipulation and distortion.... [Preston] has produced an indispensable, important book. --Sebastiaan Faber"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; y First American edition edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039306476X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064766
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an exhausting and emotionally draining book that has a narrow but immensely important goal: to document the nature and extent of atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War. Preston has spent a long career documenting various aspects of twentieth century Spain, primarily the Civil War. I would call this important book a culmination of his career because he is able to give witness to the hundreds of thousands of victims slaughtered during and after the Civil War.

This book brings together immense amounts of research and archeology by others designed to document exactly who died where under what circumstances. Because the Nationalists (called the rebels throughout the book), who were responsible for most of the killings refused to allow any investigation of atrocities not caused by the Republicans it has only been since the death of Franco that any serious research has been conducted. The investigations continue, despite laws that prohibit pursuing the perpetrators in court.

This book is a chronological description of the deaths, tortures and imprisonments caused by the rebels alternating with sections on abuses caused in Republican Spain. Unlike the other books I have read by this author, this book makes no attempt to provide a bigger picture or context to the violence. Again, this book has a very narrow and focused purpose: to document the atrocities, the holocaust.

Much of the critical response to this book has focused on the title, and his use of the highly charged word holocaust. In the prologue Preston explains why no other word in the English language adequately conveys the widespread, intentional violence committed against a largely civilian population.
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Format: Hardcover
I have finally had a chance to read this book. Prior to this I must say I was fascinated by the hateful nature of the reviews on here that wholly dismiss it as Leftist biased, or who eagerly push other material on those of us who just want some idea of this book's validity. I think this speaks more about the spiteful and self-preserving instincts of such lost souls rather than about what Preston has written. Actually, though, they seem to illustrate a crucial tenet of the civil war: hell hath no fury like a reactionary scorned.

One thing I realized from reading about the 'Spanish Holocaust' (learn about Preston's reasons for carefully choosing this title in the preface) is that the casualties of this civil war were far more numerous and unspeakable on the rebel side than the republican side. That much would be clear no matter how you want to boil it down to statistics or records which hadn't already been wantonly destroyed by the fascists. This clear and unflinching text is often gutwrenching in its descriptions of violent acts; both sides certainly contributed to the body count, but again it becomes apparent that those who identify with tradition and values of 'hearth and home' undeniably perpetrated the most glaring atrocities.

While we know much about Germany and Italy at this time, it is utterly tragic that Spain's inner conflict is so misunderstood and overlooked today. This book does a great job of laying it out and detailing the passage of events up to and throughout the civil war. I think it's worthwhile to study this subject because there are many parallels with the breakdowns (imminent or underway) of many Western nations now. Much as authoritarians like to warn us of a dangerous and violent underclass that needs to be subdued and controlled, they are themselves the true instigators of violent acts in all significant cases. They are after all much better armed and connected than a few piffling insurrectionists.
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Format: Paperback
This very thorough book is an effort to describe the considerable crimes that were part of the Spanish Civil War. Readers should be aware that this is not a general history of the Civil War but focused on politically-ideologically motivated killings during and after the war. Preston is drawing on a large volume of scholarship, mainly from Spanish scholars, that accumulated over the past generation. As can be seen from some of the comments posted about this book, this remains a controversial topic. Preston attempts to present, and I think is largely successful in this respect, a fair account. The book is organized in a mixed chronological-thematic structure. He deals initially with some of the background of the Civil War, particularly the eliminationalist rhetoric and tendencies of the Spanish military and right. His basic position is that this somewhat heterogeneous group was all unified in believing themselves in engaged in an existensial struggle with a Marxist-Jewish-Masonic international conspiracy aimed at exterminating traditional Spanish society. This section is followed by a thorough account of the atrocities perpetuated by the military rebels and their numerous allies, which Preston presents as attempt to purge Spanish society of undesirable elements. The latter often included members of leftist parties, Freemasons, political and economic rivals, unionists, Basque and Catalan nationalists, and even Protestant clergy. Preston emphasizes the linkage between the brutal colonialism and counter-insurgency tactics practiced by the Spanish army in Morocco and their behavior in Spain. These sections are followed by thorough accounts of the crimes committed by leftists, mainly but not exclusively by Anarcho-Syndicalist militias, in regions where the military revolt failed.Read more ›
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