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Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Story of El Cordobes and the New Spain He Stands For

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  603 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The story of El Cordobes, the matador who rose to fame in Spain in the early 1960's.

Perhaps one of the best biographies I have ever read, this book tells the story of the fabled Spanish bullfighter Manuel Benitez “El Cordobes”! Born in strict poverty, this youngser defied all the odds in becoming perhaps the most famous modern day "toreador"!

His phenominal rise to fame is
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published June 5th 1968 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1967)
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  603 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auto-biographies
This book is a biography of Manuel Benitez, a famous matador from spain - who was born in poverty and dreamt of being a bullfighter all his life - taking many twists and turns including jail sentences - finally achieved success and magnificiently so, due to daring exploits in the ring. The narration is good and the pair have done it again after their much popular "freedom at midnight" on the Indian independence. If you look at some of the bullfights on youtube videos, you will be appalled to ...more
Matt McCormick
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it first 20 years ago and I love it so much that I saved enough money to buy a first edition signed by the authors.
It's a fabulous biography (a category I really enjoy). Surprisingly, as I am definitely not a fan of the bull fight, I was captured by the life-story and the courage of Manuel Benitiz. The fame enjoyed by a Mickey Mantle in the states was what 'El Cordobes' would eventually enjoy in 1960s Spain. To get to that point Benitiz lived
Jazzy Lemon
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-authors
I bought a copy of this book in the early 70s and read it several times, the first being as a 12 year old Spanish student.

This is the true story of Manuel Benítez Pérez who rose from a childhood of utter and abject poverty to fame as a well-known and much-loved bull-fighter known as El Cordobés. His moves were beautiful and legendary and the crowds were awed, but staying on top isn't easy, and the fans are never satisfied, always demanding more, which means taking more risks and facing a real
Recently there was news that matadors were severely gored by the bulls that they were fighting.
Why does bullfighting continues to be a sport of entertainment? I think it's an example of the savage nature of the mankind. Why else would thousands of people gather around revel in such a dangerous act. What did those poor animals do to deserve such provocation and merciless killing?

The back story of Spanish history presented in this book was as interesting as the story of 'El Cordobes'. Spain of
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you'd die for it? Manuel Benítez grew up in an orphanage during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. He has ridiculous dreams of becoming a matador. He sneaks into pastures to practice, steals food to survive, and lives like a bum. The police would arrest Manuel and beat the shit out of him regularly for causing trouble. His tenacity pays off and he becomes the famous, El Cordobés. He gets really rich too! This nonfictional story is well-written ...more
Brendan Sheehan
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Considering this was a dated biography about a bullfighter in Franco’s Spain I had zero expectations. The authors make the brutal sport of bullfighting vividly beautiful and gripping. They also do a through accounting of Spain’s recent history as seen through contemporaries. I was pleasantly surprised.
Karen O'hanlon
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest books I have ever read!
Joey Xu
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everything by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre is worth reading.
Paulo Girão
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is both a biographical epic and a portrait of a country between the Civil War and the fall of the regime. Very well writen.
Sep 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
I had read this book 10 times .On every reading i see some new things about this book.

As his many books Dominique Lapierre has done wonders.No words in my dictionary and no superlatives that are known me can describe what you feel...

Dominique Lapierre has done wonders with english .My only concern is that i have read the book quite late in my life ..

Story telling at its best as some body said.........

Paulo Coelho in an interview about this book
Q .
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read the same book, but titled Or I'll Dress You in Mourning: The Extraordinary Life of El Cordobes. I'm not sure when the title switch occurred. Collins & Lapierre co-wrote this book extremely well. I liked how they were able to paint the picture of the life of not only Manolo Benitez, but also the other people & the life of the poor in Spain in the late 1930's through 1965 & the dramatic changes which occurred thereafter. This book flows well taking you to one specific bullfight ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(I think this may be out of print, so you'll have to get a used copy)
I am, unashamedly, an aficionado of Los Toros. I can bore on the subject for hours. But this is not a textbook, it's the biography of a chicken-thief who became as famous in his chosen art as were the Beatles in theirs. He changed the corrida forever, through his artistic genius, his bravery, and his chutzpah. On that level alone it's worth reading, and if you too become a bullfight addict...well, tough luck.
Sadly, he lived too
Matthew Meszaros
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Written with a pace and grip of a modern film script, an expertly interweaved plot jumping from the trials and fortunes of El Cordobles life. I had no interest in the Fiesta Brava prior to picking up this book, in fact I continue to be completely opposed to this inhumane sport.

However, the book did instil in me an understanding of its connections to Spanish culture and despite my protestations in my minds eye I was transported to that hot bench under the brutal Spanish sun and yes I did shout
Renee Pawlish
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long time ago and remembered enjoying it greatly so I decided to read it again. And I enjoyed it again. The stuff about the bullfighting, specifically how the bulls are treated, is hard to read, but the historical perspective about the Spanish Civil War was fascinating, and how much Manuel Benitez overcame was inspiring, too. I wish there was another book about his sister and about what Benitez did in the following years. If you like history and Spain, it's worth the read.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I read this probably 40 years ago, and liked it a lot, so I thought I would re-read it as we prepare to move to Spain. It includes a lot of history of the Spanish Civil War as El Cordobes grew up in that period and gives you a good feeling for the impact on the Spanish people of that struggle. It is also the portrait of a man who had a dream, and didn't give up until he achieved it. Although I'm not a fan of bullfighting per se, you have to admire his courage and persistence! Still a fascinating ...more
Donna Medina
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The historical background of the Spanish Civil War and the years just after sets the background and explains the motivation of El Cordobes to continue in his quest to become a famous bullfighter. He achieved that, but he also reignited the passion of the Spanish people with his flamboyance, youth and good looks and his daring moves in the corrida. I would recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in Spain its culture and its history.
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read Or I'll Dress You in Mourning when it was first published because I'm an El Cordobes fan. I read it over and over until the book fell apart. I just recently bought it again for my e-reader and am enjoying just as much now as I did prevously.

Whether you like bullfighting or not, the story of El Cordobes and the history of Spain is great reading.
May 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This two-man writing job proves that two heads are better than one -- pardon the cliche, but these writers, one French, the other American, kept it going in this thrilling biography complete with all the elements -- death, drama, romance... and on and on. It's hard to find, but one to definitely look for in those used book stores.

Regardless of your standing on bullfighting, it's a great book.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book was really fast-moving; the second half was really cumbersome; the ending was wrapped up too abruptly in a "they all lived happily ever after" kinda way...

I learned a lot about bullfighting, however!
Mar 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: islandbooks
A portrait of a man, an age, and a place. This book is a beautiful recounting of fearless struggle and triumph. It's been years since I've cracked it open, due mainly to serially loaning it out, but I hope to reacquaint myself with it soon.
Sandi Mann
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
this is an amazing true story of courage & perserverance (not to mention poverty)

the first third of the book is mainly Spanish history - the Civil War etc. but wow, it gets riveting after you get thru all that.
David Burke
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Little by little this story sucks you in. While I'm not a fan of any kind of 'cruelty to animals' and over the years since I read this book I have become active in the Anit-bullfight movement that is sweeping Mexico, I don't deny that I couldn't put this book down.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult book to read in that there is a lot of hardship and it leaves you wondering how many times can a person get back up after being knocked down so many times in so many ways.

A very inspiring story of someone who never gave up.
Chuck White
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my favorite non-fiction read. About a poor boy growing up in Spain that wants to become a bullfighter during the rule of Generalisimo Franco. Spoiler alert....he reaches his goal and becomes one of Spains most decorated bullfighters.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Exhaustively researched and brilliantly written biography.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book! In my all-time top 5 books. For any Spain lover or bullfighting lover, it's simply divine!
Alan Berry
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Long but very rewarding. I now under the emotional links the Spanish have to this art form. The links to the Spanish Civil war are also insightful.
Ian Chapman
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
As interesting for its portrayal of 1930s-60s Spanish society, as for the biography of the individual bullfighter.
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story of overcoming tremendous adversity!
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 5-star
no matter how you feel about bull fighting, you will find this book wonderful to read. I did. It gave me a new outlook on bull fighting
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REVIEW AND DISCUSSION 1 1 Aug 06, 2018 09:50AM  

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Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, he was educated at the Loomis Chaffee Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale as a BA in 1951. He worked in the advertising department of Procter and Gamble, in Cincinnati, Ohio, before being conscripted into the US Army. While serving in the public affairs office of the Allied Headquarters in Paris, from 1953-1955, he met Dominique Lapierre ...more