It is extremely difficult to find resources on the Second Spanish Republic, let alone the Spanish Civil War, that are impartial. Stanley G. Payne is t...moreIt is extremely difficult to find resources on the Second Spanish Republic, let alone the Spanish Civil War, that are impartial. Stanley G. Payne is the leading historian on modern Spanish history because he maintained this unbiased focus and presented his extensive research in a way that is very involved but yet could seep through to the understanding of anyone who decides to take up the subject. This book is an amazing display of historical research on a very volatile subject that is still emotional for many people, and blinds many people from seeing what actually went on during these years in the not-so-distant Spanish history.
From reading this book we get a glimpse into the Republic and it's various turns in the political landscape that was extremely sensitive at the time. We get glimpses into the historical timeline that created it and in and of itself is a timeline into what came after. It is a good stepping stone into further research because it does not commence from an extremist standpoint and lays everything on the table all at once. Payne also gives you clues as to what needs to be further researched, and what has been researched to death already. His conclusions are intelligent and insightful.
This book is easy to read, exciting, and emotional with strong vocabulary and excellent presentation of research. It is not too long, not too short, and will have you taking notes in order to fully understand the background of the situation and the events of smaller scope that have to be understood first in order to understand the bigger picture. Wonderful, wonderful book!(less)
This book is a collection of articles mostly about Spanish experiences during WWII. The topics are Mauthausen, the Blue Division, etc. Some of the art...moreThis book is a collection of articles mostly about Spanish experiences during WWII. The topics are Mauthausen, the Blue Division, etc. Some of the articles are mediocre, but there are a few that stand out. For example, Isabel Estrada's "To Mauthausen and Back: The Holocaust as a Reference in Spanish Civil War Memory Studies" delves into vocabulary from the Holocaust being applied to the plight of Spanish citizens in prisoner camps during the Franco regime, and also the use of personal testimony to present history. This is a major article, because it attempts to explain that personal testimony is important, but cannot write nor re-write history unless it is put under the same scrutiny. It also attempts to differentiate what happened during the Holocaust from that which happened under Franco -- not lessening what happened under Franco, but separating it so that one is not judged the same as the other. Another article, "Camera Caedens, Camera Vindex: Francesc Boix and Photography at Mauthausen" by Gina Herrmann, discusses the famous photographs at Mauthausen saved by (and in some cases taken by) Spaniards and subsequently published after the end of the war. A fairly good article.
There are problems with this book. First, in the introduction, more than once the editor mentions "Spaniards, Basques and Catalans." This is a problem because either we are all Spaniards, or we are Andaluces, Murcianos, Valencianos, Gallegos, Castellanos, Canarios, Basques, Catalans, etc. Just because the Basques and the Catalans have had the biggest separatist followings does not give the right to name them specially apart from Spaniards, and it doesn't give the right to bunch all other Spaniards into one category if you're going to be specific about just two groups. Home-grown political language has no place in a book about an historical event that sought to annihilate any of its enemies. We must be a group, or else we must be each of the sub-groups that make up that bigger group. Even using Francesc as Boix's first name is political, because his given name was Francisco, not the Catalan Francesc, and he was called Paco by those close to him.
Secondly, there is still the idea that the Holocaust was just against the Jewish population of Europe. The Holocaust was, in fact, against Jews, Gypsies, Slavs -- anyone that the Third Reich deemed as un-Aryan or anti-Aryan. So much happened during the Nazi regime and so many people were killed that we cannot focus on just one group if we are to study the event in itself. The Spaniards in the concentration camps were there because of political reasons -- political prisoners also number a great many of the Third Reich's victims. Until we realise this and accept it, then we can come to understandings about what the Holocaust was in reality, and that no one group can be given special victim status. We can study them individually, but then we would have to be specific in our titles.
Other than political problems such as these, which are really historical problems as well, the book is a good read. It does get a bit long in the tooth when the authors discuss other written works if the reader has not read those works, but the arguments that they present are, for the most part, valid arguments about language and testimony. Research is not done when you finish this book. You must understand the events that led Spaniards to Mauthausen, which means you have to fully understand not just the Spanish Civil War, but the II Republic as well. You have to understand details about the Blue Division, and consider new evidence deeming the Spanish participation in this group not as significant as usually thought. This book brings a lot of issues to the forefront, and presents glimpses at issues still plaguing the historical research about these events.
It's a very good start, I must say, to presenting ideas that are not thought about very much. Hopefully more publications will focus on the Spanish memory and experience about not just this historical event but others, as well. (less)
This is my least favourite Kadare novel in the group of five or six that I have read. As the others are mostly simply amazing, that doesn't make this...moreThis is my least favourite Kadare novel in the group of five or six that I have read. As the others are mostly simply amazing, that doesn't make this book a bad read at all. The language in it is beautiful, but I could have done without some of the more vulgar parts of it, as they were not pertinent to the story but just mentioned from time to time. Doesn't seem very Kadaresque to me. But I suppose it's a matter of taste. Also a matter of taste would be where it takes place, in Ancient Egypt, which is not all that interesting to me, but definitely read-able because of his style of story-telling. My favourite part of the book besides its message is how Kadare takes that message and updates it for us, reminding us that history repeats itself and modern states are just as capable of applying terror to their populations as those that first used the method. (less)
This is a short survey of Spain under the Franco dictatorship. It contains biographical information on Franco as well. It was written less than thirty...moreThis is a short survey of Spain under the Franco dictatorship. It contains biographical information on Franco as well. It was written less than thirty years after the end of the Civil War, and so much information has unsurfaced since then, but it is a fairly well-written introduction. I must emphasize the word "introduction," as many things mentioned in the book, such as the Falange, has a complicated history of its own and must be studied in order to understand not only what happened after the Civil War, but also before and during the historical event.
The only part of the book that I was against was Payne's survey of Spanish literature during the thirty year period. He is a historian, and an excellent one, but he is not a literary critic. It makes one think where he got his information from, and what makes him an authority on what was good or not. If it is personal opinion, it should be stated, and if it is based on sales or another critic, that should be stated as well. There was a plethora of publications during this time, and most of it was not mentioned. Spanish literature is generalised as being something not even worth one's while, and I take offense to that.
Other than that, the book was very interesting and leads to further research -- one of my favourite things in books!(less)
This is a short book packed with great introductory information about the plight of the Gypsies during the Nazi regime. It starts with some pre-Nazi h...moreThis is a short book packed with great introductory information about the plight of the Gypsies during the Nazi regime. It starts with some pre-Nazi history, and then takes the reader through Nazi legislation and action and also to the other countries that were involved in the War.
One thing I would suggest to anyone using it as a resource -- there is much that is not in this book. It is a very good start to research, but in order to get the full story you'll have to look elsewhere. This book can definitely be a guide into that. One thing that isn't expanded upon are the inner-workings of each regime that are mentioned in the book. For instance, the book mentions that the Ustashi regime in Croatia was supported by Catholics. This in itself is a very volatile subject, and cannot be taken at face value. One would have to do a lot more research in order to understand the statement, and what Catholics were involved, and which ones were not. Another thing would be that the book is not the final answer, it presents information and for those interested, it's always good to look elsewhere to fully research a subject. I used this book as a resource for a research paper, but yet I used a lot more, as well.
Keeping that in mind, I would recommend it to anyone starting out on this subject. Be sure to take notes, it leads to a lot of further research which is always a good thing!(less)
This is an average introduction into the study of the Roma/Gypsies. It is written in elementary language with a lot of basic information. I had a feel...moreThis is an average introduction into the study of the Roma/Gypsies. It is written in elementary language with a lot of basic information. I had a feeling it was meant for young children to read. It got quite condescending in some parts, especially when it set out to teach people how to deal with Roma, and emphasized over and over that this is a culture that is different. It was also full of what Roma/Gypsies are not, when more information of the culture and such would have been better. Positive rather than negative language is always better, especially when presenting a book on a culture that isn't very well-known. Also, I understand the author's desire to unite the people, but there were a lot of things that I did not relate to, and I am of Spanish Gitano heritage. Therefore, when I use the word Gypsy in English, I am translating from the word Gitano in Spanish. My mother's family is from Sevilla, in the south, so it might be very different from communities in the north and definitely from those in other parts of Europe. At no time in my life has the word Gitano been used negatively, and there are many resources to show that Gitano is something full of pride. Therefore, I will continue to use both terms, which I do not find disrespectful at all. Also, even if there are some similarities between different cultures within the same people, the author should have made it known and reiterated throughout the book that he was discussing Vlax Romani culture, and not the culture in general. Other than that, there was a great (albeit very short) section on history and some great photographs. It would have been a better book if it would have contained more positive information and more information on the different Roma/Gypsy cultures. For example, Spain was mentioned a few times, but if we take the book at face value, it's not a significant part of the Gypsy world. A somewhat good introduction, but please, for anyone interested in these cultures, please continue reading and researching. I was shocked at how thin the book is and how much more information could have been included. (less)
This is my fourth Kadare novel. It is a comedy spy cultural poetic novel, a conglomerate of things that don't sound like they make sense together but...moreThis is my fourth Kadare novel. It is a comedy spy cultural poetic novel, a conglomerate of things that don't sound like they make sense together but that weave a fantastic string of events together with amazing language and characters. Basically, a classic Kadare. And just like a classic Kadare, underneath it is so much more than those things, it is a statement that makes you think about a mostly unknown part of the world, its inhabitants, and its disappearing culture. It also makes you think of the conflicts and the confusions of the area as well. The Albanian epic, the truth about Homer, the Balkan conflicts -- this is a book that will lead to further research into many, many things. It's a great piece of literature.
As for the story itself, I overlooked the sub-plot of the governor's dramatic wife. I had to in order to enjoy what the book was really about. The Irishmen are a lovely pair, inn workers are great, the townspeople are charming in a townspeople kind of way, but Dull Baxhaja, the Gypsy, steals the show completely. Blessed with a creative flair for writing reports, we really get the taste of comedy from him and the sense of complete absurdity of his assignment. We know that if he would have stayed on, the slight tragedy at the end (which was predictable, in a good way this time, as no one died) could have been avoided. Also, the mystical conclusion is a happy one, the epic lives on! (less)
It's quite amazing to read two autobiographical accounts of Fascist Italy by its Duce. The first, the Rise, presents itself as an autobiography but it...moreIt's quite amazing to read two autobiographical accounts of Fascist Italy by its Duce. The first, the Rise, presents itself as an autobiography but it is really Mussolini explaining his roots, but also his about-face from socialism to fascism. He then goes on to defend everything he did and skewing things to the point where you almost start cheering for his accomplishments. The second part, the Fall, is a compilation of articles published by Corriere della Sera, penned by Mussolini, explaining how he had his power taken away from him. It's interesting, because again, the story becomes not Italy's, but Mussolini's and Mussolini's alone. In some ways, this is correct. He blames everything on everyone else, and sticks to his guns. It took me a while to read because it's heavy both physically and also in the sense that there is so much information in it that covers a very long period of time. He also fancied inserting various speeches and articles within the story. There were a few typos, but I can overlook that because this book is a real gem to anyone interested in history, Italy, WWII and/or megalomaniacs.(less)
This is another book assigned to my Global Terrorism class. This book is very good. Hoffman goes into the history of terrorism and mentions little-kno...moreThis is another book assigned to my Global Terrorism class. This book is very good. Hoffman goes into the history of terrorism and mentions little-known groups such as Narodnaya Volya, which makes it a gem. It doesn't stop at the status quo groups of modern terrorism, either, discussing early Israeli terrorism which assisted in the formation of the country and also a great discussion on White Supremacist groups as well. There are also discussions on the use of media by terrorist groups, which is exquisitely interesting. Later on in the book it gets boring because the author goes into the "future" of terrorism and begins to sound like a modern-day journalist, only keeping the great vocabulary found throughout the book, and only that makes it worth finishing. (less)