Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Hindered by flaws in the Kindle edition
on May 11, 2013
A very long and detailed history of the Spanish Civil War. It actually starts out with a brief history of the centuries preceding the Civil War, which I found very interesting in interpreting how the different factions came into being.
I second the recommendation by other readers that you bookmark the section summarizing the various groups. You'll be referring to it numerous times, as you get lost in the alphabet soup of acronyms.
Another thing that strikes me as odd is how many reviewers seem to focus on which side Beevor seems to favor. Personally, I would say that his coverage is quite balanced. Yes, the anarchists come out looking better than the other groups, but that might well be simply because they were marginalized so early on. Mostly, it seems to be depressingly similar to so many conflicts that we see today. The major powers of the day mostly remain neutral, but at best their neutrality ends up hurting one side more than the other, and, worse, they turn a blind eye to help given to the sides by other nations. The end result is that extremist groups end up dominating both sides in the conflict.
Overall, the book has really opened my eyes to the actual nature of the Spanish Civil War. Very different from the romanticized popular history of an heroic, losing battle of democracy against fascism. As Beevor points out, it really is an unusual case of a history that was written by the losers.
I have the Kindle edition, which suffers from some flaws that have me wishing for the paper edition. There are numerous footnote indicators, which do not link to the actual notes in the back of the book. That makes it incredibly frustrating to actually use the footnotes, and I ended up ignoring them. It is also not set up for x-ray, which would have been a huge help in dealing with the number of names that occur at wide intervals in the book. The formatting is also odd--there are numerous places where a paragraph break occurs in the middle of a Spanish name. I have no idea what about the scanning process introduces this, but it's a bit jarring, and I think that some sentences were lost as well.