Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Guernica” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,299 Ratings  ·  422 Reviews
'Guernica' is a debut novel telling the story of two families set before and during the Spanish Civil War, revolving around the bombing of Guernica.
Paperback, 370 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Picador (first published September 2nd 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Guernica, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Guernica

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Tea Jovanović
Roman meni posebno drag... Govori o ljudima iz Gernike koji su stradali... O njihovim običnim životima i sudbini koja ih je zadesila... Dirljivo, i potresno... Kad kažemo Gernika, najpre pomislimo na Pikasovu sliku... Odlično napisana knjiga...
Aug 25, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some reviews almost write themselves, not this one. I wasn't sure what I was going to make of the book. In the first place, what is an American journalist doing written a novel set around the awful atrocity that took place at Guernica? Do we need any more Spanish Civil War novels? Is this just a "lets pick an atrocity and write a novel"?
To address some of these; Boling is a sports journalist, but he married a Basque woman and he has clearly absorbed the culture (and the food; I always like an au
Dec 07, 2008 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I never seem to have a lot of time to read "grown-up" books, I can be super picky about I will make time for. And if I can only get one "grown-up" book read this winter, I am glad it was Guernica!

I love it when a book sparks my interest in a subject that I never really took time to appreciate before. Leon Uris's Trinity lead me into learning more about the history and struggles of the Irish Nation; Manhunt by James Swanson opened my eyes to a period in our own history (and President) that
Oct 01, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
For me, a historical fiction novel must have characters that are at least as strong as the event around which the narrative centers. Assuming history is poignant enough to tell its own story is risky, and I'm sorry to say that in this case the risk didn't pay off.

Dave Boling tries to create a picture of family life before, during, and after the tragic bombing of Guernica. As we follow our protagonists through adolescence, adulthood, marriage, birth, and in some cases, death, all the characters s
A marvelously absorbing and wonderfully written novel that captivates the spirit and culture of the Basque people in Guernica between 1893 and 1940. Hard to believe that this is Dave Boling's first book. With beautiful and complete mastery of the language, Boling brings the compelling characters to life - whether it's Justo, Miguel, Xabier, Dodo, Alaia, Mariangeles or Miren. We literally live with the characters as the novel unfolds, bringing the reader into the culture, ethos and vibrancy of th ...more
Obviously, from the title of this debut novel, you know something horrible is going to happen but I was so mesmerized by the stories of the larger than life passionate and proud Basque characters that when it happens it almost took me by surprise.

Weaved through the bitter sweet and sometimes hilarious stories of two Basque families and their friends, there are short paragraphs on ‘real’ people such as Picasso, Luftwaffe pilot Von Richthofen and Basque president José Antonio Aguirre, all buildi
Sep 10, 2010 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf, spain, text-checked, kirkus
Page 221 read. April 26, 1937 has happened. Guernica has been literally levelled with 250 kilogram and incendiary bombs. Led by Wolfgram von Richtofen, the cousin of Manfred von Richtofen, ie the Red Baron. Total devastation. Difficult reading, but very well written. Only readable because some few human beings, although realisticly depicted, remain humane. And the chapter of destruction is relatively short. This reamains a 4 or 5 star book.

Through page 166. I definitely like the writing, the way
Jun 29, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Historical Favorites
Page 13:
From medieval times, Guernica was a crossroads of the old Romain Way and the Fish and Wine Route that wound through the hills inland from the sea. Intersecting them both was the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Compostela.

Page 215:
Following the initial debriefing, von Richthofen sent a quick message to his superiors: "The concentrated air attack on Guernica was the greatest success." ...He had never expended more resources toward the destruction of a single target, and the town of Guernica
Jul 02, 2009 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title gives away that something terrible is going to happen, and the attack by the Luftwaffe on Guernica is indeed the centrepiece of this disjointed book.

It's odd for me to read a novel where I feel iffy about the beginning and end, but like the middle. The beginning is too flighty and tries far too hard to create various Basque characters (or more acurately charcatures) in the way of an early Louis De Bernieres novel. While the last section feels a bit tagged-on and has an ending which is
Jan 23, 2012 Judi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Just when I was about to give up on this month's selection of $3.99 or less Kindle books on Amazon... I came across this one and decided to give it a try...

And... it is love at first sentence... "Justo Ansotegui returns to the market now to hear the language and to buy soap. He places bars in scattered dishes where he can catch their scent during the day, although they fail to mask the odors of the livestock that have lived in his house for generations..."


Finished this yesterday afternoon.
Mar 16, 2012 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, basque
I wish I were a better reviewer to convince people that they need to read this book. Guernica is the beautiful story of a tragic time in the northern hills of Spain, home to the Basque people.

Maybe I should say I'm a little biased. I'm Basque. My grandmother (or Amuma as we called her) lived through this story. Her brother was in the marketplace of Guernica when it was bombed and I knew at times I was interjecting my own family into the story.

Regardless of this, I came to love the characters for
Oct 15, 2009 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a native Basque from Bilbao, a city not far from Gernika, I was somewhat skeptical about what a non-Basque would have to say about my country and the bombing of Gernika. The story starts off somewhat slow and for a moment the author lost my interest, but as the female characters in the story start being introduced, I was pulled back in. Boling's strength is characterization; the people in the story really come to life in his descriptions and dialogs. The reader can see how the Basque culture ...more
I went to Spain in 7th grade and I really do think the art, architecture, and history has been a part of me ever since. A highlight and privilege of this trip was our viewing of Pablo Picasso's 'Guernica'. Even at a young age I was moved. That is the reason I wanted to read this book-- to learn more about history through historical fiction.

I feel as though this book had a simply amazing beginning and gradual build-up to the actual bombing event. The characters were lovable and I was interested i
Aug 23, 2011 Jana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
I started this during a trip to Spain. I'm about 1/4 way in and it is excellent. I read comparisons to Corelli's Mandolin and The English Patient which gives me great hope. I do love being in Spain whilst reading (listening in this case).

This was amazing. About halfway through the book I was able to stand in front of the Picasso masterpiece. The book added a lot to my feeling about the painting and the painting added oh so much to my feeling about the book. It was the perfect multi-senso
One of the most moving pieces of historical fiction I have ever read. Having just read The Basque History of the World, this was great following book. But it would have been great anyway. Weaving incredible family bonds, Picasso (to serve as the structure of the history to present times), absolute bravery and intelligence of the French and Basque resistance fighters, and the little known (at least to me) generosity of British civilians and of course the bravery of the RAF, into a page turner is ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Mona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing. It takes place in Pays Basque specifically around Guernica. Recently Charles told me that he read this line by a literary critic, "the best books are not about ideas, but about people." I scoffed at the idea. After reading this book, I think the critic might have a point. This book made me feel so many things. Love for the Basque people and their culture. It doesn't hurt that I spent a week in French Basque country in 2007 and had one of the best times of my life. Hatred f ...more
Jun 09, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gone, nigel, spain
Nice book, but everyone in the book was just too nice to ring true. More than half of the book is spent wallowing in a perfect small group of families in an idealised small-town community. When the bombs arrived I wanted to scream 'nasty two-timing horrid people don't deserve to get torn apart either'. Well written, and well meaning. I think the first half was probably set up to provide contrast with war and make it more shocking when it came, but for me the first half made me want to get the se ...more
Apr 24, 2012 Col rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guernica had been on my "Waiting In The Wings" shelf for quite a few months before I picked it up and started it last week. Other books came in after it and yet were promoted to my hands before I read it, so it was a bit overlooked I guess. I think I overlooked it because I was worried it would be overly "clever" - and I made that irrational conclusion from doing the following very simple maths equation

Dave Boling is Washington journalist (and so very clever) + Picasso was a bit of a genius (and
Sep 15, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-wwii
Guernica is not the type of book that I would pick-up on my own. It was offered on First reads, and since I enjoyed watching a program on the painting, I entered the drawing. Lucky for me, I won; otherwise I would have missed out on a very good book.

Guernica tells the story of two Basque families in the doomed town. Despite the summary on the back of the novel, the book is not a "romance" in the modern sense of the word, at least not in the sense of a romance novel. There are love stories in the
Sep 10, 2009 Savvy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Hedlund
When I was in high school, I had the fortune and misfortune of seeing Picasso's Guernica at the Prado museum in Madrid. Fortune because I have seen one of the greatest masterpieces of art ever created. Misfortune because I was too young to fully appreciate what I was seeing. Yet, of that entire visit to the Prado, Guernica is the only painting I remember - vividly. It disturbed me and stayed with me, though I hardly knew why.[return][return]It seems no surprise then that years later I would fina ...more
Abby Welker
Jan 28, 2012 Abby Welker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really, really liked this book. I couldn't give it 5 stars only because it wasn't one of the BEST books I've ever read, but it was SUCH a good story. There was a parental advisory when I got it off iTunes as an audiobook and I'm guessing it's because of the war scenes and maybe the {very} few sexual intimacy moments, which were barely even mentioned and completely non-descriptive. So the book isn't for teens, but it's definitely a book I'd recommend to any of my friends.

It was a pleasa
Pep Bonet
Probably I've been generous with my stars, but I have a certain propensity to this first novel. It's surely mere curiosity. The novel is generally well documented and it's full of Basque words which look like well used. [N.B.: I don't speak Basque and my knowledge of the language is rudimentary, basic, but the words used are mostly known to me.] The writing is relatively good and the book has a structure which converges towards an end while hopping from place to place, with several parallel stor ...more
Jenny Grieve-laing
Apr 04, 2012 Jenny Grieve-laing rated it it was amazing
Guernica is going on my 'favourites' bookshelf as simply one of the best books I have ever read! Most of us will see the title and immediately associate it with the bombing of Guernica in Spain in 1937 or perhaps the famous Picasso painting of the same name depicting the horror of war but Boling gives us more than that. We are shown, through the family of beautifully drawn characters, what it means to be Basque; their triumphs, traditions, struggles, sorrows and loves. The actual bombing takes u ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
Ovaj epski roman smješten u baskijskom gradiću Guernici u doba kada ga je razorila njemačka vojna avijacija uoči Drugoga svjetskog rata. Roman je bogat povijesnim podacima o čarobnoj baskijskoj regiji, a Crveni barun, pripadnici Luftwaffea pa čak i Picasso pojavljuju se kao likovi u priči koja prati sudbinu obitelji Navarro u prvim desetljećima dvadesetoga stoljeća.

Guernica nam priča obiteljsku priču u dvije generacije sve do dana 26. travanj 1937. godine kad su avioni bombardirali taj mali grad
Kat Lopez
I have never been a fan of Historical Fiction, until I finished this book. It very well described the impact of the Spanish Civil War to the Basques and the people around the world during that time. The first part of the story was mainly about the lives of the main characters followed by more named characters and different story lines adding up to the build-up of the plot.

The various integration of snippets about Picasso and his painting was a brilliant touch...very subtle and and the author mad
James Marinero
Aug 13, 2011 James Marinero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I visited Bilbao in 2000 on my boat, and coasting just a few miles from Bilbao to Castro Urdiales necessitated changing the courtesy flag from the Basque flag to the Spanish flag. 'Don't fly the Spanish flag when in Bilbao' was the verbal advice, contrary to the normal maritime convention. Whilst we were moored in Bilbao, we heard an ETA bomb explode near the University.

The Basques are an intensely proud race, the border between France and Spain is a fiction to them.

Read this novel and you will
Apr 04, 2010 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book yesterday. But I bought it almost two months ago...and my friends know how fast I read! But it was so emotional for me knowing how it was going to end because I am somewhat familiar with the history behind the bombing of Guernica; seeing as I am of Basque heritage. The thing was that I became so connected to the characters, they were like friends/family! One of the few books I have been that emotionally connected to! The author, I think, does a good job of pulling you i ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it
This was another of my random pick-ups in the library. It was only when I looked closer at the blurb that I realised this book was about Basque country, a place my great grandparents had left years previously to the books events. I had never known about Guernica aside from that there was a famous Picasso work bearing the same name.

This was one of the most moving historical fiction books I have read. I became very involved with all the characters. The first half the book sets up the character re
Jayne Bauling
Jun 13, 2012 Jayne Bauling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about the atrocity that prompted Picasso's mural, in which the characters beautifully embody the Basque nature which the landscape seems to reflect so evocatively.

These are independent, proud, tough people, endearing in their unpretentiousness and devotion to family. Having to be cautious about speaking their own language, their flag despised, persecuted for teaching their own history to children - and this was just under the Republican government, with the Spanish Civil Guard ever ready
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Guernica by Dave Boling 1 9 Oct 05, 2015 03:06PM  
Around the World: Spain: Lilisa recommends: Guernica by Dave Boling 1 4 Aug 30, 2014 09:28PM  
  • The Rose of Sebastopol
  • The Life Room
  • The Spanish Bow
  • Winter in Madrid
  • Resistance
  • The Return
  • Random Acts Of Heroic Love
  • Freddy Goes Camping
  • Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past
  • In This Hospitable Land
  • Black Out (Inspector Troy, #1)
  • The Assassin's Mark
  • The Master of Verona (Star-Cross'd #1)
  • In Hovering Flight
  • The New Spaniards
  • The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation
  • Omamori
  • The Creation of Eve
Dave Boling is a journalist in the Seattle area. Guernica is his first novel
More about Dave Boling...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“So Justo comes to listen. The language always has been the most important act of separation anyway, as the bond is to the words more than to the land. Since nothing on maps reflects their existence, the extent of their “country” is the range of their language. But like the dances, the flag, and the celebrations, the words are banned, making a prayer whispered in Basque as illegal as a call to arms in the public square.” 1 likes
“And the hunger that once chewed at them like a mean dog now seems more like an annoying houseguest who simply refuses to leave.” 1 likes
More quotes…