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The Spanish Civil War

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  579 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Since its first publication, 'The Spanish Civil War' has become established as the definitive one-volume history of a conflict that continues to provoke intense controversy. What was it that roused left-wing sympathizers from over the world to fight again
Paperback, 4th edition, 1120 pages
Published April 3rd 2003 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1961)
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The Spanish Civil War was the proving ground for much of the technology (tanks, aviation, artillery, etc.) used in World War II. This alone makes it essential reading. The only one-volume history of war that I can compare it to is Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and American in Vietnam. The books are structurally different. Sheehan uses the central figure of Vann as a kind of biographical spine on which to build his history. The Spanish Civil War has no such core narrative t ...more
Unfortunately it has a predictably status quo left liberal slant.

" for some curious reason, has acquired the reputation of being a definitive history of the conflict - is pretentious, superficial, and factually unreliable. For a devastating critique, the reader should consult Vernon Richard's "July 19, 1936: Republic or Revolution?" in Anarchy, No.5 (July, 1961)' and Richard's introductory remarks to Gaston Leval's "Collectives in the Spanish Revolution " ( London, 1975). " - Murray Bookchin' p
Mar 05, 2015 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The British writer and historian, Hugh Thomas, first published this monumental work in 1961 and subsequently revised it several times, last in 1986. This review is of his final revision.

The Spanish Civil War has long been somewhat of a mystery to me, the events of that conflict having been overshadowed by the immediate onset of World War II as the Spanish war came to a close in 1939. I read this book to rectify my ignorance and clarify my confusion. The book accomplished all of that while provid
Erik Graff
Mar 30, 2013 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: persons interested in modern Spain
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
After Mom left Dad she developed a medical condition which she could not pay for--despite the fact she worked full-time at a hospital--and had to move back to Norway where medical care was available for free, even for a native daughter who had taken on U.S. citizenship years before. I visited her there upon graduating from seminary and met the fellow, Egil, whom she was ultimately to wed.

Egil Karlsen, like many Norwegians, had a condo on the Mediterranean shore of Spain, not too far west of Mala
Sep 21, 2011 P J rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
UKIP makes me want to vomit, although the BNP is worse. Reading again Hugh Thomas’s gripping history, I was more moved than I expected to be by the great tragedy which befell Spain in the late 30s and which the liberal democracies allowed to happen by their fear of provoking fascist Italy and Germany.
Putting ones country first whatever the circumstances is a peculiar thing to do. To put ones own vision of what that country means before any other considerations crosses the borders of mental illne
T. Robert
Jun 02, 2014 T. Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
The story of this civil war, as told by Hugh Thomas, amazed me. Full of drama, courage and atrocity, idealism and deceit. It constantly surprises me how human societies can suddenly collapse, tearing themselves apart, and so easily resort to killing others whose beliefs differ. Is there a parallel to the current civil war in Syria? Where a rebel side seeks to overthrow a government which has lost touch with its people, but external volunteers enter to distort the picture. I knew little of the Sp ...more
Nov 01, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing
Hugh Thomas account of the Spanish Civil War is the most thorough version of the events written to date. His writing style makes the reader believe the entire account could be fiction. It is very easy to read and you hardly feel like you are reading history at all. The Spanish Civil War is one of the most devastating conflicts of the 20th century. It is the precursor to World War II and showcased as well as trained some of Germany, Italy and Russia's top talent. The sheer devastation of tactics ...more
بهمن بهمن
Jul 17, 2016 بهمن بهمن rated it it was amazing
کلاس ابتدایی بودم که این کتاب رو خوندم(خیلی تصادفی تو کتابخونهٔ داییم دیدم)و از همون موقع عشق تاریخ جنگ داخلی اسپانیا شدم؛)
Apr 13, 2016 Sean rated it it was ok
Read a lot of this book in chunks but can safely say that didn't ruin the enjoyment, not only is it readable it also encompasses the political aspects as opposed to the military strategies of the generals, which in other books can become very monotonous. "The personal is the political," as they say, which allows for figures like President Azana, General Franco and Largo Caballero a.k.a. the Spanish Lenin, to feel grounded and altogether believable, despite the fact that the account is not a pers ...more
David Steakley
Nov 22, 2014 David Steakley rated it it was amazing
Wow. I had no idea. I thought I knew something about the Spanish Civil War, but I knew nothing. It was fascinating, the story of the anarchist left captured the government through democratic elections, and how the government's attempted adherence to the ideology was such a devastating handicap in the war against the falangists.

the conflicted sentiments on the part of the UK and the US over which side they should support, if either, reminds me of the current situation the US faces in the conflic
Apr 04, 2016 Phil rated it it was amazing
If my history classes were an indication, this was a war few know anything about, and we should. Briefly, there were two sides, the Republic and the Fascists led by Francisco Franco. The Republic was the first freely elected government in Spain for decades. The Fascists desired to overthrow it. Franco's Fascist insurgency was backed by Hitler and Mussolini and used as a test bed for the weapons the world learned about in WWII. The Republic was an unlikely coalition of Communists and Anarchists. ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Jack rated it it was amazing
Of the three histories of the Spanish Civil War I've read, Thomas's is the most comprehensive and balanced. He seems not to have an ideological axe to grind, which is impressive considering this war was inherently ideological. He focuses on the social and political causes of the war, the diplomatic and international consequences of it, and the military maneuvers that eventually led to Franco's victory. If you read one history of the Spanish Civil War, you wouldn't be wrong to choose this one.
Oct 25, 2015 Philip rated it really liked it
This half century old book is a fantastic revelation not only of the Spanish Civil War, but how it impacts today’s world. This war, 1936-38, preceded World War II but much that happened in the latter was presaged here. And in the appeasement by France and England, we can also learn lessons. And the multiple sides on each side tell of similar events in Syria. The Nationalist were composed, for example, of Falangists, Monarchists, the Catholic Church, and youth groups. There are many lessons for t ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Jpp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le classique toujours incontournable.
The Spanish Civil War is often read as a backdrop for the much larger Second World War and this is a solid approach to this regional conflict, but the conflict itself has had a much larger historical and cultural impact on the world of today than many readers may believe. For this reason, and many others, this remains a seminal moment [1936-39] in Western and world history.

Hugh Thomas's The Spanish Civil War, 50th Anniversary edition, remains the best, if exhaustive [1,116 pages -- Kindle Editi
C. James
Feb 22, 2014 C. James rated it it was amazing
This is the best ever work to untangle the alphabet-soup of initials for all the groups that fought for and against The Spanish Republic. At least one and I think two students from my high school volunteered to fight for the Republic and joined the Lincoln Brigade. One was KIA. Another student wrote a poem about that time titled "The Story of War"

Eager, ruddy, freshly drilled.
Reeking, bloody, freshly killed.

And the Republicans (almost) won. See the film "To Die in Madrid."
Paul O'Leary
Nov 08, 2015 Paul O'Leary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't do this book justice. It's the finest single volume history of the Spanish Civil War available. But this is so uncontroversial. Nothing else touches it. It's a classic that I don't think will be supplanted in my lifetime. Stanley Payne has written many fine volumes on this subject, but Hugh Thomas is 'the' master. Would love to read his book on Cuba at some point, too. His book on Cortes, Montezuma and Fall of Old Mexico was also excellent.
Greg Northrup
Nov 05, 2008 Greg Northrup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This thoroughly comprehensive and somewhat exhausting history nevertheless kept me more or less engrossed for its substantial duration. While difficult to keep track of the various politicians, activists, commanders and generals that make appearances throughout, Thomas nevertheless projects a intensely dramatic account of this wrenching and defining 20th century moment. Certain figures and moments will be vividly lodged in my head forever, as described by Thomas - among them the heroic defense o ...more
Scott Patrick
I like the old historians, but like Figes and Cronin, Thomas overwhelms the reader with copious anecdotes and trivia that do not really rise to being necessary to understand the conflict. To be exhaustive does not mean also being exhausting. Still, not terrible if you want a book that doubles as a door-stopper.
Jul 13, 2014 Martin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Thomas spends a lot of time explaining the enormously complex cultural and political scene in Spain at the time. Fascinating study in politics and its limitations...
Paul Silles
Jan 27, 2016 Paul Silles rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read.
Patricrk patrick
Jul 22, 2010 Patricrk patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I had always thought of the Spanish Civil War as a small thing. It had about a half a million men on each side and was fought out over a two year period while the other events leading up to World War II were going on in Europe. It finally ended six months before the start of World War II. Hugh Thomas estimates 400-600 thousand people died. This is more than the USA lost in World War II. The book gives the political as well as the military history. A very good read.
JZ Temple
Aug 28, 2007 JZ Temple rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Hugh Thomas has written several books that are all characterized by two things; they are extraordinarily comprehensive regarding their subject, and I keep finding myself losing interest as the story goes on. Not to say it isn't a good book, it's just something about Thomas's style that makes it feel like work to get through it. Never the less, it's a very detailed and worthwhile history of the Spanish Civil War, assuming you can get through it.
Mar 03, 2012 Sergio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scholarly book written for non-historians; and it is a captivating book. Civil wars are tragic and the Spanish civil war was not an exception. There were some good people on both sides, unfortunately they were drowned out or killed by egotistic incompetents. It is hard to comprehend how violent the world was during the first part of the 20th century.
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who feels that they need to know more than what is in Hemingway and Gellhorn
Shelves: european-history
This is a great book which I feel has now been superseded by Antony Beevor's excellent history of the Spanish War. If you are uncomfortable allowing Antony Beevor, who is often accused of being right wing, to form your views on Spain, then read this work by Thomas.

I read both thirty years apart and found both worthwhile.
Wendy Anderson
Sep 01, 2015 Wendy Anderson rated it liked it
Another book that is heavy on the Military History. I learned a lot from this book, but I do not understand the military parts. Whenever I decide to read another military history book, I will need to educate myself on military lingo. Otherwise, this is a good book. It is told without bias.
موريسكو باندوليرو
تفاصيل دقيقة عن الحرب الأهلية الإسبانية أو ما يعرف ب"الحرب العالمية الثانية المصغرة"، ألفه المؤرخ البريطاني، هيو توماس ، يتبين من خلال تحليله للأحداث غزارة اطلاعه وموضوعيته

عندما أنتهي منها، إن شاء الله، سأنقل بعض الفاصيل، خصوصا المتعلقة بمشاركة المغاربة في هذه الحرب.

Tom Smitha
Jul 23, 2012 Tom Smitha rated it it was amazing

Best account of this war that I have read. Well researched and excellently written. I also like that Hugh Thomas has updated book over the years as new information comes to light. This war and the politics behind it still resonates today, and not just within Spain.
Aug 08, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iberian
A classic of the historian's art. Thomas makes the larger than life characters across the political spectrum extraordinarily vivid, and the tension never relents. A powerful and important book.
May 22, 2014 Hermano rated it really liked it
A well balanced approach to a very complicated subject. The book is long but very comprehensive. In my opinion it treats both sides fairly. A good reminder if how savage a civil war can be.
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Hugh Swynnerton Thomas, Baron Thomas of Swynnerton, is a British historian and Hispanist.

Thomas was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset before taking a BA in 1953 at Queens' College, Cambridge. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. His 1961 book The Spanish Civil War won the Somerset Maugham Award for 1962. A significantly revised and enlarged third edition was published in 1977. Cuba, or t
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