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Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Story of El Cordobes and the New Spain He Stands For

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  381 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The story of El Cordobes, the matador who rose to fame in Spain in the early 1960's.

Perhaps one of the best biographies I have ever read, this book tells the story
of the fabled Spanish bullfighter Manuel Benitez “El Cordobes”! Born in strict poverty,
this youngser defied all the odds in becoming perhaps the most famous modern day "toreador"!

His phenominal rise to fame is
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published June 5th 1968 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1967)
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The Story of Ferdinand by Munro LeafDeath in the Afternoon by Ernest HemingwayMatador by Barnaby ConradThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest HemingwayOr I'll Dress You in Mourning by Larry Collins
Bullfighting, Tauromachia, Tauromachy
5th out of 20 books — 13 voters
As You Like It by William ShakespeareAre You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy BlumeOh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. SeussTwelfth Night by William ShakespeareWhere Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
All Yours
178th out of 218 books — 22 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 25, 2012 Ram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auto-biographies
This book is a biography of Manuel Benitez, a famous matador from spain - who was born in poverty and dreamt of being a bullfighter all his life - taking many twists and turns including jail sentences - finally achieved success and magnificiently so, due to daring exploits in the ring. The narration is good and the pair have done it again after their much popular "freedom at midnight" on the Indian independence. If you look at some of the bullfights on youtube videos, you will be appalled to ...more
Pierre Fortier
Lapierre-Collins amorce leur récit en proposant en alternance un chapitre sur la guerre civile espagnol, un chapitre sur la tauromachie et le futur Dieu, El Cordobès. Le contexte politique et social est bien campé. Les origines et la symbolique de la corrida agréablement bien démystifiés. On se dirige vers un autre grand livre du célèbre duo d'auteurs, sauf qu'à mi-parcours on se concentre essentiellement sur le toréador oubliant pratiquement le contexte de l'ère franquiste. On passe du présent ...more
Recently there was news that matadors were severely gored by the bulls that they were fighting.
Why does bullfighting continues to be a sport of entertainment? I think it's an example of the savage nature of the mankind. Why else would thousands of people gather around revel in such a dangerous act. What did those poor animals do to deserve such provocation and merciless killing?

The back story of Spanish history presented in this book was as interesting as the story of 'El Cordobes'. Spain of th
Sep 20, 2008 Ss rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
I had read this book 10 times .On every reading i see some new things about this book.

As his many books Dominique Lapierre has done wonders.No words in my dictionary and no superlatives that are known me can describe what you feel...

Dominique Lapierre has done wonders with english .My only concern is that i have read the book quite late in my life ..

Story telling at its best as some body said.........

Paulo Coelho in an interview about this book
Q . Te
Mar 12, 2012 Neil rated it it was amazing
(I think this may be out of print, so you'll have to get a used copy)
I am, unashamedly, an aficionado of Los Toros. I can bore on the subject for hours. But this is not a textbook, it's the biography of a chicken-thief who became as famous in his chosen art as were the Beatles in theirs. He changed the corrida forever, through his artistic genius, his bravery, and his chutzpah. On that level alone it's worth reading, and if you too become a bullfight addict...well, tough luck.
Sadly, he lived too
Mar 11, 2009 Hali rated it it was amazing
I read the same book, but titled Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Extraordinary Life of El Cordobes. I'm not sure when the title switch occurred. Collins & Lapierre co-wrote this book extremely well. I liked how they were able to paint the picture of the life of not only Manolo Benitez, but also the other people & the life of the poor in Spain in the late 1930's through 1965 & the dramatic changes which occurred thereafter. This book flows well taking you to one specific bullfight ...more
Renee Pawlish
Jul 24, 2012 Renee Pawlish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long time ago and remembered enjoying it greatly so I decided to read it again. And I enjoyed it again. The stuff about the bullfighting, specifically how the bulls are treated, is hard to read, but the historical perspective about the Spanish Civil War was fascinating, and how much Manuel Benitez overcame was inspiring, too. I wish there was another book about his sister and about what Benitez did in the following years. If you like history and Spain, it's worth the read.
Jan 26, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I read this probably 40 years ago, and liked it a lot, so I thought I would re-read it as we prepare to move to Spain. It includes a lot of history of the Spanish Civil War as El Cordobes grew up in that period and gives you a good feeling for the impact on the Spanish people of that struggle. It is also the portrait of a man who had a dream, and didn't give up until he achieved it. Although I'm not a fan of bullfighting per se, you have to admire his courage and persistence! Still a fascinating ...more
Donna Medina
Jan 06, 2015 Donna Medina rated it really liked it
The historical background of the Spanish Civil War and the years just after sets the background and explains the motivation of El Cordobes to continue in his quest to become a famous bullfighter. He achieved that, but he also reignited the passion of the Spanish people with his flamboyance, youth and good looks and his daring moves in the corrida. I would recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in Spain its culture and its history.
May 08, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing
This two-man writing job proves that two heads are better than one -- pardon the cliche, but these writers, one French, the other American, kept it going in this thrilling biography complete with all the elements -- death, drama, romance... and on and on. It's hard to find, but one to definitely look for in those used book stores.

Regardless of your standing on bullfighting, it's a great book.
Angel Serrano
La historia de Manuel Benítez "El Cordobés", una de las leyendas del toreo español, sirve de hilo conductor para retratar la historia de España entre los años treinta (con la República y la Guerra Civil) y los sesenta, con el milagro económico y el turismo. Epílogo actualiza la historia posterior del matador.
Jul 20, 2014 Judie rated it it was amazing
I read Or I'll Dress You in Mourning when it was first published because I'm an El Cordobes fan. I read it over and over until the book fell apart. I just recently bought it again for my e-reader and am enjoying just as much now as I did prevously.

Whether you like bullfighting or not, the story of El Cordobes and the history of Spain is great reading.
Sandi Mann
Feb 09, 2013 Sandi Mann rated it really liked it
this is an amazing true story of courage & perserverance (not to mention poverty)

the first third of the book is mainly Spanish history - the Civil War etc. but wow, it gets riveting after you get thru all that.
Chuck White
Jan 13, 2013 Chuck White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my favorite non-fiction read. About a poor boy growing up in Spain that wants to become a bullfighter during the rule of Generalisimo Franco. Spoiler alert....he reaches his goal and becomes one of Spains most decorated bullfighters.
Jun 28, 2010 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult book to read in that there is a lot of hardship and it leaves you wondering how many times can a person get back up after being knocked down so many times in so many ways.

A very inspiring story of someone who never gave up.
Mar 26, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: islandbooks
A portrait of a man, an age, and a place. This book is a beautiful recounting of fearless struggle and triumph. It's been years since I've cracked it open, due mainly to serially loaning it out, but I hope to reacquaint myself with it soon.
David Burke
Oct 28, 2013 David Burke rated it it was amazing
Little by little this story sucks you in. While I'm not a fan of any kind of 'cruelty to animals' and over the years since I read this book I have become active in the Anit-bullfight movement that is sweeping Mexico, I don't deny that I couldn't put this book down.
Nov 13, 2009 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book was really fast-moving; the second half was really cumbersome; the ending was wrapped up too abruptly in a "they all lived happily ever after" kinda way...

I learned a lot about bullfighting, however!
Jan 05, 2011 Dominicana rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book! In my all-time top 5 books. For any Spain lover or bullfighting lover, it's simply divine!
Ian Chapman
May 11, 2013 Ian Chapman rated it really liked it
As interesting for its portrayal of 1930s-60s Spanish society, as for the biography of the individual bullfighter.
Jun 10, 2012 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
An incredible true story set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. You don't need to 'like' bullfighting to appreciate this story.
Tony Henderson
Feb 19, 2014 Tony Henderson rated it really liked it
Fascinating insight into the life of Spain's most favourite bull fighter, and one I watched in Barcelona in the 1960's
Alan Berry
Jun 17, 2016 Alan Berry rated it it was amazing
Long but very rewarding. I now under the emotional links the Spanish have to this art form. The links to the Spanish Civil war are also insightful.
Mar 25, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 5-star
no matter how you feel about bull fighting, you will find this book wonderful to read. I did. It gave me a new outlook on bull fighting
Sep 29, 2012 Mel rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I read this, but I thought it was one of the best books in English about bullfighting.
bookish  butch
Dec 28, 2015 bookish butch rated it it was amazing
the best book I have read on bullfighting. These young torreadors are born into poverty, the one chance they have is bullfighting, very similar to prize fighting
Jacob Blandford
Jun 19, 2016 Jacob Blandford rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book. An exciting story that is written remarkably well. The author keeps you interested and on the edge of your seat as he tell the life story of El Cordobes.
PAYAL PATHAK rated it it was amazing
Dec 31, 2015
Biju rated it liked it
Aug 13, 2014
Rohan Aloysius
Rohan Aloysius rated it it was amazing
Dec 15, 2012
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Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, he was educated at the Loomis Chaffee Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale as a BA in 1951. He worked in the advertising department of Procter and Gamble, in Cincinnati, Ohio, before being conscripted into the US Army. While serving in the public affairs office of the Allied Headquarters in Paris, from 1953-1955, he met Dominique Lapierre ...more
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