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The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The seminal history of Spanish anarchism: from its earliest inception to the organizations that claimed over two million members on the eve of the 1936 Revolution. Hailed as a masterpiece, it includes a new prefatory essay by the author.
"I've read The Spanish Anarchists with the excitement of learning something new. It's solidly researched, lucidly written, and admirably f
Paperback, 316 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by AK Press (first published 1977)
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4.07  · 
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 ·  315 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bookchin argued, in one of the earlier histories of the Spanish Revolution, that it took nearly 3 generations of struggle, organization building, and conflict to lead up to the strong revolutionary change that characterized the Revolution and Civil War. The book is therefore the story of building the revolutionary organizations that led to the founding and development of the anarchosyndicalist union in the CNT and specifically anarchist activist organization in the FAI. Bookchin notes that Anarc ...more
So, what's all the hubaloo about anarchism in Spain anyhow? Well, probably the best stop to find out the details is here: The best history of anarchism up until 1936 in Spain that I know of.

Why is anarchism in Spain at all relevant? Well, according to Noam Chomsky, the Catalan part of Spain could have been the most progressive society (albeit very briefly) in world history when the anarchists had popular control of government there.

A must read of history that is ignored by most mainstream hist
Steven Peterson
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first point to mention: One's understanding of what happened in Spain is almost certainly indicated by the answer to one question. Was this the Spanish Civil War or the Spanish Revolution? The essence of Bookchin's book (and it is not original to him) is that there was a revolution within the Civil War. While there is considerable recognition of the Civil War, there is much less discussion and consideration of the revolution within that civil war.

One immediate problem in understanding the d
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Indeed, no less important as a subject of study than the woerkers' committees and agrarian collectives that were to follow the July revolution was teh movement that created the ground work for libertarian social structures - the Spanish Anarchist movement itself." (312)

While errounsly I thought the book was going to about THE REVOLUTION itself, I read it anyway and this much to my liking. Bookchin ends the book with the quote above, pointing out that those celebrated social structures (for some
A fascinating history of one of the most important anarchist and syndicalist movements in history. This book offers a very important perspective that is vital in understanding the social, political, and ultimately human context that lead to the development of the Spanish Revolution, and the inextricably linked Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939; at the same time giving us a plethora of further reading that I intend to do.

Bookchin does a wonderful job in explaining the dynamics, organization, and evo
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Bookchin’s “the Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years” covers the period from 1868 to 1936—that is, from Giuseppi Fanelli’s introduction of the anarchist “Idea” to Madrid and Barcelona, to the beginnings of the military coup of 1936. It is a history of the formative years of the Anarchist movement, rather than a history of the Spanish Civil War. I don’t have the historical background to evaluate Bookchin’s conclusions; this book served as an introduction to this subject matter for me. All I can d ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
In 1868, the "Idea" (as they called it) was planted in Spain by someone on a mission from Bakunin, one Fanelli who spoke no Spanish but whose passion was enough to convince the dedicated militants who began the anarchist movement in Spain, which would become the most significant in the world and help carry out the most far-reaching revolution of modern times.

Today it seems like we inhabit a different planet. The days are long gone when a union could be formed, dedicated to the overthrow of capit
Jul 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: skeptics of anarchist organization, those who still call statist "socialism" revolutionary.
This book is not about the nearly forgotten simultaneous revolution and reaction that took place in the second half of 1936 in Spain. Instead, the book focuses on the even more buried account of the preceding 70 years of anarchist agitation and organization that lead to that standoff. Murray Bookchin meticulously reconstructs the organizations, ideologies, theories, movements, historical events, intellectuals and important persons of the time in a compelling history.

What struck me the most about
I know little about the history of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain, to say nothing of anarchist movements in the country more specifically. Bookchin's account here certainly provided a good introduction to both of these, though I found his writing style here somewhat less exciting than in either Post-Scarcity Anarchism or The Ecology of Freedom; the radical criticality that I have found in these books--and admired Bookchin for--is certainly missing here. Overall, this is a f ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
As others have mentioned, this book is the lead up to the Civil War, but contains nothing of the Spanish Revolution, only the background. The tensions between Anarchists and Socialists, as well as the other major players are looked at. As this is mostly a book on anarcho-syndicalists, the focus is on the working class, not Anarchist theory.

A few things would've added to this book. Why on earth isn't there a map? Also, a glossary, especially since spanish words are introduced without translation.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
I went to Barcelona in 1978 for a day. There were nervous looking teenagers standing around in uniforms w/ machine guns. Franco had been dead for 4 yrs. I left. I went to Madrid in 1984 to visit a friend. It was amazing. Very liberated. I went to Barcelona again in 2004 - pd to do so by the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona to participate in a hactivist festival of sorts. I read this bk before & during being there. It was extremly useful in understanding the culture. Of course, fo ...more
Lee Humphries
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great book that's been sitting on my shelf for a while & been meaning to read it. If you are interested in how and why a country like Spain desired a massive social revolution then this is the book for you. Chomsky often cites that the Spanish revolution was over 30 years in the making and this book demonstrates and documents the events leading up to 1936 social revolution. I've read a few books on Spain which mostly concentrate on the civil war itself this book is essential as the forerun ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bookchin's fantastic history of the Spanish anarchist movement BEFORE the Civil War. this is actually the best-written thing I've found of Bookchin's. if only he could have written this way for his theory pieces, like The Ecology of Freedom, which contains so many great ideas but written in such a jumbled mess.

if you're curious about the Spanish Revolution/Civil War, this book is the necessary back-story.
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful history of Anarchism in Spain up to the beginning of the Civil War itself. As other reviewers elsewhere have pointed out, this is book that even people pissed off at Bookchin because of his pamphlet denouncing Lifestyle Anarchism like.
David Grassé
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For all those who maintain that Anarchism could never be sucessfully actualized.
Can we say FAI bay area?
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Interesting topic. Terrible writing.
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Murray Bookchin was an American libertarian socialist author, orator, and philosopher. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology. In the late 1990s he became disenchanted with the ...more