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A Moment of War: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War
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A Moment of War: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War (The Autobiographical Trilogy #3)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  525 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the autobiography of a young Englishman in the Spanish Civil War.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by The New Press (first published January 1st 1991)
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Sarah Foster
Jan 05, 2013 Sarah Foster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I fell in love with Laurie Lee's writing a few years ago, reading 'Cider with Rosie'. I begun reading Lee because he was from a village close to where I live, in Gloucestershire. Cider with Rosie, did not disappoint my want for nostalgia for my beloved Stroud(ish), however I stopped here for a while before reading 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning', which I knew would have very little to say about the rolling hills of Slad. However I started seeing a Spanish guy, and so, with a little more ...more
Begona Fernandez
Unfortunately this memoir left me rather cold. I am obsessed with the Spanish Civil War so this book was a obvious choice. But with not enough personal details that make you care for any of the characters, the detached quality of the narration and when spaniards appear at all you feel Laurie is dealing with a different race he doesn't particularly like, to the point that you start to wonder what on earth he is doing in Spain in the first place.

He starts the book tired and ends it exhausted and t
...more
Kevin Varney
Blimey, it looks like Laurie Lee was lucky to have survived to write Cider with Rosie and his other books. He had balls of brass. I read some interesting things on the internet about him and the Spanish Civil War. There were some people who think this story was not true. However, there is evidence that he took part in the war, but that he suffered from epilepsy, so was never sent to the front. Laurie had more to worry from his own side it would seem. He had to write from memory decades later bec ...more
Nigeyb
Jun 23, 2012 Nigeyb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Lee did an amazing thing. One midsummer morning he walked out of his childhood home in the Cotswolds (described in entertaining detail in the fabulous ‘Cider With Rosie’) and walked to Spain via London (described in ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’). The final part of the trilogy - ‘A Moment Of War’ – covers Laurie’s return to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The introduction is brilliant. Laurie schleps across the Pyrenees to volunteer only to be arrested as a spy. I won’t say ...more
Sylvester
I only gave this 2* out of respect for Lee's talent as a poet and writer. I would otherwise have given it only 1*. This is one of those times when I am reviewing based entirely on my response to the subject matter - and has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. I hated the meaninglessness so much, not to mention the little situation with the 13 year old boy they threw into his cell to "warm" him (????) the boy's words, "You can hurt me." made me ill, and I had a hard time reading the re ...more
Jan Hawke
Mar 28, 2016 Jan Hawke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This sombre book was starkly different to the heat, colour and gaiety described in 'As I walked out one Midsummer Morning'. Spain in the middle of the Spanish Civil War was 'stretched dead on a slab'. However despite its gloominess there are characteristic flashes of humour and some beautiful lyrical passages. Particularly memorable is the description of the air-raid on Valencia and the depiction of a country at war with itself 'an infection so deep it seemed to rot the earth, drain it of colour ...more
Louise
Feb 26, 2014 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Moment of War is the third and final book in Laurie Lee’s autobiographical account of his childhood and youth. I read the second, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning a couple of months ago but, as with this one, had read bits of it before while studying the Spanish Civil War and the role of foreign volunteers.

As I Walked Out… finishes with Lee’s decision to return to Spain now that the Civil War was underway, to fight for the Republican cause, and making a difficult journey alone and on foot
...more
Rodrigo Paris
Feb 03, 2013 Rodrigo Paris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am repeating myself, since what I wrote earlier disappeared all of a sudden. I had heard that sometimes people adorned their own biography, claiming participation in historical events in which they had no pat at all. This 'autobiographical' memoir of the war is a good example of that sort of deception. I would argue that Mr. Lee had absolutely no participation in the Spanish Civil War. The inconsistencies and contradictions are all too obvious. Let's look at the narrative:
In page 1 of my copy
...more
Huw Evans
Oct 27, 2011 Huw Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really resented having to wait nearly thirty years to read this book. I read Cider with Rosie and As I Walked Out One...and the simplicity of the writing style and the small details made it absolutely captivating reading. Also, the idea of just walking away from everything stirred my wanderlust, even though I did little about it for many years. This book compares favourably with anything written by Hemingway and Orwell on the same subject and exposes the individual's fragility in the face of p ...more
Banbury
May 02, 2016 Banbury rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Of No Moment

“We drove in silence, in a dumb state of nothing, having no part of what we saw, nor any certain direction.”

p. 151.* This quote from Laurie Lee’s A Moment of War could be a description of what it is like to read the book. There is no story in the sense of narrative structure, plot, or character development. Such deficiencies might be forgiven as this is a non-fiction book, but then one would expect to learn something other than the author’s chance impressions at a certain time of hi
...more
Richard Newton
The third of Lee's autobiographical series. Similar in style to the second, but not the first. A short book about Lee's involvement in the Spanish Civil War. I have read of some controversy as to whether Lee was actually there - but I will take it that he was, for I have no particular reason to doubt him. And if he was making it up, I think he may well have drawn a more complimentary picture of himself. However, I have little detailed knowledge about the Spanish Civil war beyond this book.

In the
...more
Leilani
This was the final book I read in one blitzed swoop through the autobiograpical triology of Laurie Lee's. In comparison to the preceeding two books 'Cider with Rosie' and 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' it felt more, rushed or urgent somehow - which made the experience of reading it less pleasurable and ties in with thoughts on whether Lee felt pressured to write another book specifically covering his experiences in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. But then it fee ...more
Margaret
It would be wrong to say I 'enjoyed' this book, as it's an utterly bleak portrayal of Laurie Lee's life as one of the miscellaneous band of European intellectuals and working-class idealists who fetched up in Spain to do their bit to help the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. These men spent much of their time hungry, often baffled, bored and ill-led. Winter was bruisingly cold, and the towns and villages where they existed with half-starving Spaniards had withered to a state worse ...more
Caroline
Feb 25, 2014 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very good, very different from Homage to Catalonia. Lee is, if we believe this, oblivious to politics and strategy. He simply exists.

The bleakness and almost absolute zero cold are all one senses. Lee experiences five minutes of battle in the entire book; the rest is the curious sequence of sneaking into Spain, being taken for a spy, twice, narrowly missing being executed, twice, and completely random, disorganized movement toward the front. Then equally bolloxed up retreat.

And yet there is an e
...more
Mark McKenny
This is probably worthy of 4 stars, but if I'm talking about the trilogy as a whole, this was the one I liked least, and therefore gets 1 less than 'As I Walked Out...' and 2 less than 'Cider with Rosie'.

There was nothing wrong with it. It was as interesting and captivating as the other two books that I've read from Laurie. But it failed to entertain me as much. The subject matter wasn't my favourite. The writing not as powerful/emotionally gripping. I guess for other people, this will be their
...more
Janet
Mar 04, 2013 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Laurie Lee’s memoir of his experiences as a member of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Entering Spain illegally by walking over the snow-covered Pyrenees, violin in his back pack, he sets out on an adventure but is soon disillusioned. He undergoes arrest and imprisonment (on more than one occasion), hunger, bitter cold, and when he has killed a man is forced to admit:
“Was this then what I’d come for, and all my journey had meant – to smudge out the life of an unknown young
...more
Sandra Danby
Aug 25, 2015 Sandra Danby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-of-spain
This is a tale of war, written by a poet, in language that draws pictures of a situation impossible to imagine. Lee walks into Spain across the Pyrenees to join the International Brigades for the last push of the Spanish Civil War. He arrives at Figueras, a town which remained loyal to the Republicans and so was bombed heavily by the Franco. “War had shrivelled and emptied it, covered it with a sort of grey hapless grime so that even the windows seemed to have no reflections.” Lee is passed from ...more
Emma Cameron
I did feel a bit let down by this book as one of the reviews on the back claimed that if I read this book I would know all I needed to know about the Spanish Civil War. That is one of the main reasons that I chose it and I feel that by the end I am no better informed than I was at the beginning. That said I did enjoy this book at it has inspired me to read "Cider with Rosie" and "As I walked out...".

I loved his style of writing and he made many pertinent points about the futility of war. “Was t
...more
Frances
This is beautifully written, but I'm not sure just how autobiographical it is and can't help feeling that a certain amount of poetic licence has been taken. For one thing, a movement that defied Franco's forces for so long must surely have been better organised and more effective than is shown.
Lee seems to have been drawn to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War on a whim, and to spend his time in the republican forces either under arrest or meandering around the country.
So a nice read, but I'm no
...more
Durdles
Jun 14, 2011 Durdles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, war
Not exactly the third part of a trilogy beginning with Cider with Rosie that you'd expect. This is a stark account of Our Lol's participation in the Spanish civil war. What motivated him to trek over the Pyrenees in the depths of winter is not explained. Did he have a death wish? Lorenzo is rightly treated with deep suspicion by everyone he encounters as he lurches from hopeless death cell to frozen troop train with a raggedy army of international volunteers. No one around seems to know what is ...more
Chris
Could have been called "By the Skin of My Teeth" or "Sheer Dumb Luck". Charmed and charming Laurie Lee succumbs to the romantic lure of the Republican army in Spain's civil war and suffers terrible hardship, escaping certain death several times.
Bbrown
Mar 08, 2014 Bbrown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never been a member of the armed forces, let alone been in a war, but Lee's writing strikes me as what being in that situation is actually like. Books like Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls paint the Spanish Civil War as disorganized, sure, but on the macro level. Lee shows that the war was disorganized and confusing on the personal level as well, with chance encounters saving foreign volunteers from being considered spies, with random assignments and relocations, with your next meal comi ...more
Nick
Sep 09, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Lee felt that he owed the people of Spain something after wandering through its towns playing his violin as a young man. So when the Spanish Civil War broke out, he smuggled himself into Spain through France, and enlisted in the Republican cause. His soldier's-eye-view of the war is chilling, dispiriting, and full of anomie. The cause is lost almost before it began. Lee senses this and reflects it in the meaninglessness of his soldierly role. As a result, though, the book is a bit flat an ...more
Telans
Mar 28, 2012 Telans rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Совершенно неожиданно - довольно скучно.
Тема guerra-civil-española меня безумно интересует - Хеммингуэй, Оруэлл, Неруда и вот теперь Лори Ли. 1937 год, зима, блуждание сквозь Пиренеи, неорганизованные силы республиканцев в Каталонии, абсолютно не запоминающиеся (ни чем) люди, появляющихся то тут, то там на страницах книги, воспоминания о войне, которые не трогают совершенно. Разочарование. Сумашедше-солнечно-соленая Испания, где ты? Что за страну под твоим именем описал Ли?..

...Вы падали не раз
...more
Andy
Nov 02, 2014 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The final work in his great trilogy sees Lee re-enter Spain in order to fight for the Republic in the Civil War. A moving, yet often ribald, musing on the futility of ideology and violence.
Steve Williams
Mar 28, 2014 Steve Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, but, just for a change, I'm adding my review to www.bookloversmelbourne.blogspot.com.au which is my own book-dedicated website. Please take a look:)
Booklovers Melbourne
I really enjoyed this book, but, just for a change, I'm adding my review to www.bookloversmelbourne.blogspot.com.au which is my own book-dedicated website. Please take a look:)
Andrew
My review of this is part of my review of the trilogy 'Red Sky at Sunrise'
Helen Waters
Jan 15, 2015 Helen Waters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear and vivid depiction of youth, innocence, ideology and war. An old tale with a connection to our current political climate. Beautifully written.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
A cruel war evoked in images of sad and helpless beauty
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Do you believe him? 8 20 Nov 08, 2014 10:19PM  
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Laurence Edward Alan "Laurie" Lee, MBE, was an English poet, novelist, and screenwriter. His most famous work was an autobiographical trilogy which consisted of Cider with Rosie (1959), As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). While the first volume famously recounts his childhood in the idyllic Slad Valley, the second deals with his leaving home for London and his ...more
More about Laurie Lee...

Other Books in the Series

The Autobiographical Trilogy (3 books)
  • Cider With Rosie
  • As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

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“I shared a compartment with a half-dozen muffled-up soldiers who had only arrived the day before, including an ill-favoured young Catalan whose pox-pitted cheeks sprouted stubble like a grave in May.” 2 likes
“Eulalia turned and smiled at me brilliantly, showing her tongue, her face cracking open like a brown snake's egg hatching.” 1 likes
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