Review

This is a high-level history of the Spanish civil war, focusing mostly on the political and social aspects of the war. Preston is, naturally, quite sympathetic to the Republican cause, and offers detailed and compelling evidence of the mass murder perpetrated by Franco’s nationalist forces.

The stance taken toward the civil war by Britain, France, and the US is quite revealing of the inherently corporate- and imperialist bias of those governments at the time. The League of Nations voted a ‘non-intervention’ pact, which was blatantly ignored by Germany and Italy and basically ignored by the Soviet Union (though the USSR never offered enough aid to allow the Republican forces to win). Britain and France turned a blind eye to the German and Italian intervention, and enforced an embargo against the Spanish Republic, but not against the nationalist forces. Obviously British and French corporate interests felt safer with a right-wing military dictatorship than with a participatory democracy - especially if Communists were allowed to participate.

It doesn’t take hindsight to understand that Britain and France would have been far better off supporting the Republic. It is even possible that a strong response to fascism in Spain would have allowed them to circumvent Nazi expansionism. But, as we know now, capitalism has an easy relationship with fascism, and a very uneasy relationship with democracy - witness the hysteria and propaganda coming from the US media regarding Venezuela.

The fascist forces were fully supported by the Catholic church. In fact, there was the spectacle of priests and bishops calling for the mass slaughter of labor leaders, liberals, socialists, and communists. And it was the support of the Catholic church that drove the US government to not support the Republic. Of course, despite its proclaimed adherence to the non-intervention pact, the US was well aware that US oil companies were delivering oil to the nationalists, and did nothing about it. Profit is profit, after all.

Franco finally died 37 years after the end of the civil war. He’s still dead. And, sadly, so are some 150,000 Spaniards executed by the nationalists.

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Metadata Info

  • Title: The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge
  • Author: Paul Preston
  • Published: 2006
  • ISBN: 0393329879
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 5.0 stars