Hispanophiles: Spain, her Culture and Discerning Books discussion

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Spain - Jan Morris, a book review

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message 1: by Mark (last edited Aug 28, 2013 07:41AM) (new)

Mark Colenutt | 22 comments Mod
This is a one-stop read on Spain. Probably no book this short can offer as much insight and you have Morris' writing style as well. Naturally, the country has an enormous history from its Iberian settlement through it phases of Phoenician and Greek development spurred on by Mediterranean trade. Then it became Rome's most important outpost after the Carthaginian's were finally defeated just outside Seville. Then Rome declined and fell opening the way for the occupations by Germanic tribes. Following that, there were the famous seven centuries of Moorish Al-Andalus domination. With the Reconquest of Spanish lands from the Muslims, came the discovery of the New World, new found wealth and fresh rounds of European conflict both with England and the Low Countries. After Spain's Super Power status faded the country sank into centuries of unstable political strife and eventually napoleonic invasion, which led to the Spanish Constitution in 1812, signed in Cádiz. Since then to the modern day, it has been a roller coaster ride between Republican sentiment and Conservative reaction. Then came the Civil War and the rest as we know is just history. So, of course it is impossible to cram all of that into one small publication, despite the fact that I achieved it but ten lines. Somehow, Jan Morris manages to capture the essence of this ebb and flow of Spanish history between the Mediterranean and Atlantic tides that have influenced Spain's destiny so markedly.

The book's brevity stands in contrast to its intensity. I have offered an outline here but Morris will give you the emotion. I, therefore, highly recommend this to anyone whether at the beginner's level of Spanish appreciation or the lofty 'aficionado' level.

It was the first book I read in preparation for life in Spain and I occasionally, even now twenty years on, find myself turning to it for clarification and the odd elucidation.

Mark Colenutt


message 2: by Mark (new)

Mark Colenutt | 22 comments Mod
Glad to hear the review was of use and so quickly at that.


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