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The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #123)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  380 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Amid the many catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Spanish Civil War continues to exert a particular fascination among history buffs and the lay-reader alike. This Very Short Introduction integrates the political, social and cultural history of the Spanish Civil War. It sets out the domestic and international context of the war for a general readership. In addition t ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2005)
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Diego
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
La capacidad sintética anglosajona no tiene igual... Apenas 200 páginas y no sobra ni falta una jodida palabra. Y todo ello con un estilo digerible, sin cifras, fechas, acrónimos o nombres innecesarios. Unos lo tacharán de sesgado, pero lo cierto es que entre el fanatismo español y el enfoque objetivo y desapasionado de los ingleses hay un abismo. Yo tengo claro con cual me quedo.
Gary Foss
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
If you ask an American when the Second World War started, s/he will probably say December 7, 1941.* If you ask a Brit then you'll get 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Japan went into Manchuria in 1931, and the main of China in 1937, but had occupied Korea since 1910, which points out that the Second World War was in many ways a continuation of the First World War, leading some contemporary historians (and some not-so-contemporary) that I've read to suggest that those conflicts will be lumped t ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #123), Helen Graham

Amid the many catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Spanish Civil War continues to exert a particular fascination among history buffs and the lay-reader alike. This Very Short Introduction integrates the political, social and cultural history of the Spanish Civil War. It sets out the domestic and international context of the war for a general readership. In addition to tracing the course of war, th
...more
Ted
This review will take awhile. Have started on in 5/10.
Rory
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I made a rare departure into non-fiction, I did not expect to find the experience emotive. Yet, this book ended up being one of the saddest I have read. Despite being a compact volume, Helen Graham provides a probing, detailed account of the war. Those expecting detailed accounts of military manoeuvres will be disappointed - the writer focuses more on the political splits, international context and cultural and political significance of the conflict. What I feel Graham really brings to life ...more
CDB
"... a lone soldier, carrying the flag of a country that is not his own, of a country that is all countries and which only exists because that soldier raises its abolished flag ... ragged, dusty and anonymous, a tiny figure in that blazing sea of infinite sand, walking onwards... not really knowing where he's going nor with whom, nor why, not really caring as long as it's onwards, onwards, always onwards." (Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina)
James Hatton
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four stars. This is an excellent brief history of the Spanish Civil War. However, I gave it four stars rather than five because I found some of the prose tough to understand. Still, I say it's well worth the read. There's definitely enough in this history to get a good, basic understanding of the Spanish Civil War—truly, one of the great tragedies of the Twentieth Century.

A thought:

If you approach this history with an inflexible contempt for some of the strategies the Spanish Republic employed t
...more
Albert
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Traveling thru Spain recently, I had the occasion to not only see Picasso's painting "Guernica", but I went to see the rebuilt city of Gernika, in the Basque Country.

Finding myself curious to learn more of the Spanish Civil War, I picked up this book at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

This is a short but dense work that does what it claims; the author provides a very short, fact-laden history of the civil war. In doing so, one marvels at the issues that swirled around the now 80-year-old confl
...more
Diana
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book after finishing the 'Your Face Tomorrow ' trilogy. Marías makes numerous references to the Spanish Civil War in his books, but I knew very little about it. Though a bit dense, this book gives a great summary of the topic. The author talks about the political climate that led to the war, the tactics used by the rebels, and the difficulties the Republicans faced in trying to stop Franco's forces. I was surprised to hear that it is only recently that the Republican remembrances of ...more
Brian
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is exactly what it says it is. But it's not just a rundown of the key facts. It's full of anecdotes, about the important players and the regular Spaniards swept up in the war, which give the book some movement. It also does a great job of contextualizing the conflict in wider history—all in like 150 pages. Not bad! Graham's approach is that the Spanish Civil War was not only the prelude to the WWII but a Europe-wide civil war by proxy. The parallels between the cultural divisions at wo ...more
TheReadingLawyer
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great introduction to the Spanish Civil War. Filled with an in-depth history and analysis of the war, a complete overview of the Republicans and the Nationalists/Francoists/Fascists. I was initially intrigued by the war after reading For Whom the Bell Tolls and wanted some further background before reading Homage To Catalonia. Would definitely recommend for anyone looking to learn about the Spanish Civil War in a concise manner.
Kara
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a splendid book for a quick brief on an enormously complicated topic. The bibliography in the back and links that the author gives further help anyone that is interested in looking further find what they need.
Judith
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read, but very informative and well worth the effort.
Brian Curragh
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A slim but thorough introductory history of the Spanish Civil War which focuses on the political aspects of the conflict at the expense of any military historical analysis.
AC
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is very highly rated by Preston (p. 339) -
Robin Friedman
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Very Short Introduction Series of Oxford University Press offers the opportunity to broaden one's knowledge and horizons in short, uniform paperback volumes on a variety of subjects. I took the opportunity to read this "Very Short Introduction" to the Spanish Civil War, fought between 1936 and 1939, by Helen Graham. Graham, Professor of Spanish History at Royal Holloway, University of London, has written a detailed study of the war, "The Spanish Republic at War: 1936 -- 1939" (2002) and a re ...more
Oranje
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
First time to read a "A Very Short Introduction" and a first time to read a book about the Spanish Civil War, mostly provoked by a recent visit in Spain and some labelling in the Montjuic castle in Barcelona

I am quite sure that I can't be accurate if I generalise but I find the concept of these short introduction of events very meaningful. In this particular case, the writer also lays down very effectively her views on the causes of the war and avoids getting deep in the military components and
...more
Mattias
An excellent introduction to a very complex conflict.
Holly
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it

As I have always found with this series of books, this book was eye opening; it gave a sufficient general overview to the Spanish Civil and, although I was already interested in Spanish history and culture due to my studying of the language, reading it has certainly encouraged me to look into it further. It had just the right amount of detail for its size and was quite easy to follow.

In some places, I did find my mind wondering off. This could be, perhaps, because the book wasn’t entirely engagi
...more
Sandra Danby
May 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-of-spain
This excellent little book is part of the series ‘A Very Short Introduction’ and is a blow-by-blow account of the Spanish Civil War. A confusing war with complicated names, political intrigues, fractured parties and much in-fighting, Helen Graham explains the origins of the war, the domestic and international contexts, and is particularly good at the social impact. If you have ever been confused by the various factions on each side, the connections with the wider international scene at the time, ...more
M
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I know nothing about the Spanish Civil War, the only reason I know it occurred in the 20th century derives from being aware of Picasso's massive painting inspired by the war. Before I read Homage to Catalonia I thought it pertinent to brush up on the background.

How horrible! The Fascists won! And the Catholic Church backed them. I had no idea the travesties that occurred! This compiles the whole war including the lead up and after effects succinctly. You are able to absorb the entire framework
...more
Trish
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-military
A fascinating book about a tragic period in history. I hadn't really known much about the Spanish Civil War before, certainly not the extent and horror of it. Effectively the initial shots in WWII. German-Italian militiary support of Franco, and eventually Soviet support of the Republicans gave both sides a chance to prove the military technology they'd been building, while Britain and France used 'Non-Intervention' to just sit back and watch as Franco bombed the Republicans back to the Stone Ag ...more
electricity woman
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A good very short introduction which gives you an extremely important insight into the cultural phenomenon of the Spanish Civil War. The writing style is accessible, intelligent, accessible, and enjoyable. The book offers a powerful conclusion commenting on the politics of inhumanity and how the history of the Civil War remains thoroughly relevant to our times (especially in the wake of a burgeoning extremist right-wing political following cropping up all over Europe). The author includes a vari ...more
David
May 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Bite-sized account of the 1936-39 conflict. Graham emphasizes political flows (both inside and outside the country), so the reader must rely on the Chronology in the back matter to keep track of the battlefield narrative. She also devotes significant space to the war's aftermath, both to the regime of Franco that lasted into the 1970s and to what the war means to us now.

This is my first experience with the Oxford VSI series, and to my mind the format is a good choice for the layman. Minimal foot
...more
Timothy McNeil
This was a surprisingly quick read for a VSI (aided, no doubt, by having read a different book on the subject one month earlier). It was concise and forthright, which was also very nice. This one did not attempt to diffuse the subject through the multitude of competing political parties and labor unions (though it acknowledged the major players in those arenas).

Still, I got a little weirded out by Graham's use of language (such as eliminating the helping verb when using "obtained") at times.
Mary
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Knowing nothing of the Spanish Civil War and being in Barcelona I thought this book would deliver to its title.
It is short, but very very dense.
The author's lens of socio/economic forces provoking the conflict was refreshing from the usual chronology of linear events.
I would have liked more detail on the Nationalist/Franco campaign.

I didn't realize the depth of the conflict and being in Barcelona saw how it is still very fresh.
Torben
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
A fairly decent introduction to a war that too many liars have said they would have fought in. This book manages to cover most of the main points. Of course as it's a short introduction it couldn't go into too much detail on certain things such as the internecine conflict on the Republican side or the international volunteers who sided with Franco. Well written and concise with some nice photos, this is alsoworth reading as a "refresher" on the subject.
Ed
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to understand the Spanish Civil War for some time, but have never been willing to invest the time. This "Very Short Introduction" is beautifully and passionately written. What made it especially worthwhile was the last chapter, which discusses the particular difficulties in memorializing a civil war in which the bad guys won and ran the place for forty years. Now that I have this introduction I plan to use it as a guide to reading other things.
Keeko
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was hard to put down. I knew there had been a civil war in Spain, but the only thing I knew was Chevy Chase's line from SNL, "This just in. "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" The more I read, the more I wondered why we don't learn about this in school. It seems that it was a very significant part of what led up to WWll. I appreciate that the author did such a good job of explaining things clearly. I feel like I learned a lot and had an interesting time doing it.
Scott
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
For 150 pages, it does a good job covering the Spanish Civil War, and presenting not only the political but cultural implications at stake. What's really lacking here is a discussion of the internal politics on the republican side and the influence that Stalin did indeed have on that dynamic (something she too casually dismisses).
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