Blood of Spain: Oral History of the Spanish Civil WarPaperback
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- Publisher: PIMLICO
- Format: Paperback | 624 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 234mm x 43mm | 806g
- Publication date: 5 May 1994
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0712660143
- ISBN 13: 9780712660143
- Illustrations note: maps
- Sales rank: 643,214
We discover what civil war, revolution and counter-revolution actually felt like from inside both camps. The contours of the war take shape through the words of the eyewitnesses. The atmosphere of events is vividly recaptured. And though the lived experience of the participants is revealed the uniquely tragic essence of all civil war. 'Fascinating and brilliantly unorthodox. ' Hugh Thomas, author of THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO.
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Ronald Fraser was born in 1930 in Germany, educated in England, the US and Switzerland, and has worked on Spanish contemporary history, among other things, for the past 25 years. He first went to Spain in 1957, living in the then isolated mountain village of Mijas, Malaga, to write a novel, published in 1960. Thereafter, dividing his time between Spain and London, he collected accounts of personal work experiences in Britain, first published in New Life Review and subsequently by Penguin. In 1970 he wrote In Hiding: The Life of Manuel Cortes, an oral history of the last socialist mayor of Mijas who had emerged from 30 years of hiding after Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War. This was followed by The Pueblo: The Story of a Village on the Costa el Sol in which, through the personal accounts of a representative sample of villagers, Fraser described the changes which had affected Mijas over the previous 75 years - most notably foreign tourism. He spent five years working on Blood in Spain.
The Spanish Civil War has provoked a massive amount of historical writing, including several acknowledged classics. Fraser, the author of two previous oral histories of Spain, uses this technique here to restore the "atmosphere" of the struggle rather than to provide another straight narrative. Having interviewed over three hundred participants from all social levels and political persuasions - except "leaders" or those who have written memoirs - and from all relevant regions of Spain, Fraser integrates the oral material with his own words, and alternates between descriptions of specific "episodes," profiles of individuals ("militancies"), and more panoramic views of events. This arrangement gives us three levels of access to the history. Monarchist student Juan Crespo, for example, first appears as one participant in the first battle outside Madrid, where, he recalls, he and his militia colleagues soon got fed up with the cold and the fleas on their "outing." Crespo reappears later, in a profile, where he discusses his "ideals" of Spanish unity ("The Catalan and Basque autonomy statutes were the last straw") and strong leadership ("The Spaniard cannot be democratic") - sentiments that still echo today - while admitting a sympathy for the Falangists, the fascist party behind France, and a lack of faith in God. "Militancies" like this one point up the difficulty of forming stereotypes in categorizing the various factions of each side, and especially of the less well-known right - Dionisio Ridruijo, a Falangist, explains that "you could be a revolutionary and still be a conservative, a non-conformist and a conformist." The larger motifs include recollections of adjusting to the daily round of civil war, the horror of mass executions, and the freedom/coercion of collectivization. The political and personal struggles between and among anarchists, socialists and communists in the Republican camp are already familiar, but these personal testimonies ring with authentic exasperation - one man recalls seeing anarchist unionists shoot a radio receiver over which an anarchist minister was appealing for peace among the left. A model of what can be done with oral history, and a valuable addition to an already rich literature. (Kirkus Reviews)