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The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,101 ratings  ·  325 reviews
A fresh and acclaimed account of the Spanish Civil War by the bestselling author of Stalingrad and The Fall Of Berlin 1945

Beevor's Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge is now available from Viking Books 

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War's outbreak, Antony Beevor has written a completely updated and revised account of one of the most bitter and hard-
Paperback, 560 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Penguin Books
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Roy Lotz
[He puesto una traducción española abajo, en el spoiler.]
As the Spanish Civil War proved, the first casualty of war is not truth, but its source: the conscience and integrity of the individual.

Anthony Beevor is a military historian; and his book is mainly a record of armies and battles. The forces that destabilized the government and created so much tension within the country are quickly summarized; and the aftermath of the war—its legacy, its lingering effects in Spanish political life, its
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I found this book nearly unreadable and gave up on it within the first 100 pages. As such, take this review with that in mind since I didn't gut through it.
I had heard great things about Beevor's "Stalingrad" and may still read it someday. "The Battle for Spain", however, suffers from a few serious problems: its choice to be a straight political history and Beevor's writing style.
I am not a fan of this kind of history writing. It is top-down narrative history at its worst. It is no doubt inval
Michael Gerald
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't know anything about the Spanish Civil War until I read this book. And what an eye-opener it is.

Spain in the 1930s was a country in transition. It had just come out of the departure of King Alfonso XIII and a new republic was trying to get itself established. But forces from across the political spectrum took turns weakening the Republic to further their own agenda: the political and social conservatives who wanted to retain the status quo of monopoly of power and privilege; the social
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Spoilers: the good guys win.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
Even Antony Beevor Can't Simplify Such a Complicated Topic ...

The Spanish Civil War is a significant 20th century historical event that is logically obscured by the enormity of the Second World War. My rudimentary knowledge of the conflict led me to simplify it as a war between the Nazi supported Nationalists vs. the Soviet supported Republicans ... oh how wrong I was. My search to expand my knowledge of the Spanish Civil War both started and ended with the discovery Antony Beevor's THE BATTLE F
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've read quite a few of Antony Beevor's history books and all are characterised by his thoroughness, detail and authority. Despite all being detailed they are always absorbing accounts.

Despite reading a lot of fiction about set during the Spanish Civil War, and of course Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, I'd never read a proper account.

The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 helped me understand just how much I didn't know, and contextualise what I did know. Antony Beevor giv
Igor Ljubuncic
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can you hear the drums Fernando?

This is a great book - also, very sad.

I've always been fascinated with the story of the Spanish Civil War, and what it signified. In many ways, it was the precusor to WW2, and the fight between the Axis-backed nationalist forces and Soviet-backed republicans offers an insight into what will transpire in Europe over the next several years. It also dispels the easy myths around the black-and-white truth of what the Spanish Civil War is in popular media.

The author go
Feb 24, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, history, 2020
This is simply the worst written history book it has ever been my misfortune to attempt to read. I can only assume the many people who rate it highly went into it with an already good knowledge of the people and events of the Spanish Civil War. For a beginner, it's appalling.

Beevor simply lists names and events with absolutely no analysis of them. Even the major players get no description - physical or biographical. Franco, as just one example, appears as an already existing leader - no backgrou
Marius van Blerck
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
An excellent analysis of a conflict in which the Spanish people are the filling in a sandwich, the slices comprising a fight between the extreme right and extreme left. To make matters worse, as is well known, the conflict became the testing ground for Hitler and Stalin to play with their toys of war. The book is well constructed, and very readable, suffering only from the author's mild tendency to repeat the lessons he wishes the reader to retain, in a schoolmasterish fashion. Although the book ...more
Loring Wirbel
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Histories of wars, particularly ones involving contested political domains, tend to focus either on the battles, the personalities, the international struggles, or other specific aspects. While Beevor's 'Battle for Spain' isn't perfect, I give this book five stars because the mix is just right. And for one of the most disputed wars in modern history, that is a major accomplishment.

We can find any number of anarchist or Trotskyist reviews of the Spanish Civil War that heap blame on the Russians a
David Nichols
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Antony Beevor is probably best-known today for his lengthy histories of the battles of Stalingrad and Berlin, but this earlier narrative of the Spanish Civil War matches both of these later works for grim and gripping detail. While one might expect a historian of the Second World War to treat the Spanish conflict as a prologue to that larger and deadlier global struggle, Beevor sees that the civil war had great significance in its own right. It was a struggle between ideologies, in which both th ...more
Antonio Nunez
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
The new edition of Beevor's classical account of the Spanish Civil War does not disappoint the author's many fans. His narrations of famous battles are outstanding, particularly in the cases of Teruel and Ebro. His characterizations remain spot-on. Franco is wily as he sacrifices thousands of his men for political gains. Azaña is decent but weak. Largo Caballero is a poor man's Kerensky, whereas Negrín is a would-be Stalin. Communist leaders Líster and El Campesino quarrel as the front collapses ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This "must be" the most balanced account of the Spanish Civil War ever published. I say "must be" because this is the first one that I have read in its entirety (up to now, I had only read the first volume of Hugh Thomas' book, which was good, but left me a bit cold, to be honest) so I don't think I would be fair if I said that it is the best and most balanced, in spite of having read reviews in the Spanish press that point in that direction.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the book, whic
James Murphy
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've had this book 5 or 6 years. Because I was intimidated by the complexity of the political events in Spain during the 1930s I'd put off reading it. Many years ago--1967--I read the Hugh Thomas history of the Spanish Civil War and had gotten lost in the mazes and Babel of parties right, center, and left, each accompanied by its own acronym and ideology. Beevor does a good job in that regard. He does what he can in his account to keep the fog away, to keep the parties and acryoyms tidily arrang ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
while having some factual information, so 2 stars rather than the one star the book mostly deserves, this book reaffirmed my decision not to ever read books about Spain written by Englishmen and stick with books written by native Spanish people as the clear anti-Spanish bias that has been showing in pretty much all the English books featuring Spain or Spanish characters that I've been reading for 40+ years now shows very clearly here

just avoid
Well, seven chapters (80 pages) in, I have to acknowledge that I find Beevor's book pretty much unreadable. It's a combination of poor organization (it's hard to figure out at any given point where he is going with things - he makes detours from a purely chronological account for no apparent reason) and excessive, mind-numbing detail in places. A typical sentence:

Between 5 and 12 March he (Mola) had meetings with other key conspirators: Orgaz, Goded, Ponte, Kindelan, Saliquet, Franco, Galarza, F
Luis Frauca remacha
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great and balanced account of the Spanish civil war, superbly researched and documented
Laurent Franckx
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Reading Beevor's account of the Spanish civil war is a bit like Hasting's history of the Vietnam war: you basically know the story line, but it's amazing how much there's still to learn.

Here are some of the points that most struck my mind.

First, I had always known about the internal conflicts on the Republic's side, and especially how the Communists sought absolute control, even at the cost of military defeats and bloody confrontations with competing fractions. It was completely new to me that
Geoffrey Fox
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: revolution
I've been reading Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (London: Phoenix, 2006), and just got through the intro and Part I, “Old Spain and the Second Republic”. It's a marvelously clear, though overly concise, account of some of the key events and for this reason will be an excellent starting point for anyone new to the subject and a good refresher for those who already know some of it. There is much to praise here -- but still, it left me unsatisfied. It doesn't ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Awful, boring book. Just like his book about Stalingrad.

The introduction is nice, specially delineating the political context, but soon people and cities names are juggled around you, with no introduction, no explanation, no description, no flavour. This is specially the case when the civil war proper, with military conflicts, starts.

The narration is dry, just imagine "general xxx- never spoken before in the book- went to city yyy- never spoken before in the book, and you have no idea how the ci
Milton Soong
Jul 25, 2011 added it
Shelves: history
[Audio book] A masterpiece of history on this depressing subject. The 1930's is a not a good era to look for the best of humanities achievements, and the Spanish civil war is near the nadir of that. You have cold calculating dictators, idealists who would not negotiate with the ways of the real world, and revolutionary zealots on all sides. It's akin to watching a train heading into the abyss, you know where it's going, you wanted it to change for the better and the rational part of you knows th ...more
Czarny Pies
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Someone looking for a current book on the Spanish civil war
Recommended to Czarny by: I am a fan of Antony Beevor
Shelves: european-history
I read the English edition of this book which I understand is an abridged version of the original that was published in Spanish. Abridged books often seem longer than the full versions because the author's argument gets mangled as the text gets cut. I must say that of all the books that I have read by Beevor this one is most lacking in clarity and impact.

For a long time, we have regarded the Republicans (including the communists who quickly assumed the leadership role) who fought against Franco
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
What a depressingly confusing and unmitigated mess human history can be.

Overshadowed be the events that followed, you might have heard of WWII, the Spanish Civil War was at least in my education a mere blurb in the text book. After having read Beevor's fairly comprehensive account of the war I have to wonder whether part of that oversight was due to the lack of anyone's ability to succinctly explain the events. I certainly learned a lot from this book, but I'm also certain that I still could not
Timo Nikinmaa
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book is a comprehensive and detailed account on the Spanish civil war. Before reading it, I thought I knew roughly enough about the war and the role of countries like Germany and Italy on one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other. Well, I did not. Not to talk about the role of France and the United Kingdom, which did their best not to interfere and by doing so, ended up to taking sides. At the end the republic had no-one to turn to but the Soviet Union, which did not agree to lend a hand ...more
May 04, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As other reviewers have noted, The Spanish Civil War is not an easy war to write about. So many factions, so many events, all occurring at the same time that any book that attempts to do them justice would be monolithic (such as Hugh Thomas' definitive tome). Beevor struggles against the mountain of detail but still manages to provide a decent retelling of the events, but without the heart that embodied Spain of that time. ...more
solid presentation of SCW. it is not a rightwing recitation.
Tom Smitha
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I've read several of Beevor's books. ...more
May 16, 2013 marked it as to-read
Recommended to El by: The bus
Some guy on the bus is reading this and my nerdistry know no shame.
James Yee
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was one of Beevor's earlier books, and it shows. He does warn you in the preface that it started off as a bunch of separate articles that he was later persuaded to turn into a book. And it shows. Instead of the narrative storytelling we've come to expect from him, this book reads more like an encyclopedia especially in the beginning when he's explaining the bewildering array of parties that formed the Republican government. But towards the second half of the book it got easier to read.

I was
John Bohnert
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a great deal about the Spanish Civil War from reading this book.
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Antony James Beevor is a British historian who was educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous historian of World War II, John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War and the 20th century in general.

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“History is never tidy.” 36 likes
“This, perhaps, is why it is unwise to try to judge the terrible conflict of seventy years ago with the liberal values and attitudes that we accept today as normal.” 2 likes
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