The Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle Against Fascism

The Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle Against Fascism

Hardback

By (author) Richard Baxell

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  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 230mm x 54mm | 962g
  • Publication date: 1 October 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845136977
  • ISBN 13: 9781845136970
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 483,096

Product description

When a Nationalist military uprising was launched in Spain in July 1936, the Spanish Republic's desperate pleas for assistance from the leaders of Britain and France fell on deaf ears. Appalled at the prospect of another European democracy succumbing to fascism, volunteers from across the Continent and beyond flocked to Spain's aid, many to join the International Brigades. More than 2,500 of these men and women came from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, and contrary to popular myth theirs was not an army of adventurers, poets and public school idealists. Overwhelmingly they hailed from modest working class backgrounds, leaving behind their livelihoods and their families to fight in a brutal civil war on foreign soil. Some 500 of them never returned home. In this inspiring and moving oral history, Richard Baxell weaves together a diverse array of testimony to tell the remarkable story of the Britons who took up arms against General Franco. Drawing on his own extensive interviews with survivors, research in archives across Britain, Spain and Russia, as well as first-hand accounts by writers both famous and unknown, Unlikely Warriors presents a startling new interpretation of the Spanish Civil War and follows a band of ordinary men and women who made an extraordinary choice.

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Author information

Richard Baxell is a research associate at the London School of Economics and a trustee of the International Brigade Memorial Trust. He is the author of a number of books and articles on British volunteers for the International Brigades, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. His previous works include the critically acclaimed British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War: The British Battalion in the International Brigades, 1936-1939. With Jim Jump and Angela Jackson, he is a co-author of the IBMT's travelling exhibition, Antifascistas and the accompanying book.

Review quote

'Baxell's authoritative book draws on unpublished memoirs as well as personal interviews with a tiny band of survivors who lived their experience, in the poignant words of one volunteer, as "a time of hope, when a man with a rifle had some power to divert the tide of human affairs".' Military History Monthly 'Examines the motivation of these individuals and recounts their stories in an oral history of remarkable power.' Good Book Guide 'Most interesting, because previously least known, are Richard Baxell's detailed descriptions of the backgrounds of the individual volunteers, drawn from unpublished diaries and oral histories, and the reception they received on their return home.' -- Caroline Moorhead Literary Review 'Well researched and luminously written, Baxell's book shows us what these volunteers were like - their grand heroism and their petty hatreds, the miseries they endured, the awfulness of war.' -- Francis Beckett The Tablet 'Baxell draws painstaking miniatures of the uncontroversial heroism of doomed men. It's beyond history; it's myth.' -- Gideon-Lewis-Kraus London Review of Books 'This is a brilliant new book with lots of new material that should appeal to the general reader as well as those who already have a fair knowledge of the subject. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it.' Journal of the Spanish Study Circle 'Lively and accessible... Those of us privileged, like the author, to have met and known a number of the survivors know that Spain always remained in their hearts. The time they spent there was proudly remembered by many as the most important of their lives.' Morning Star 'This is a colorful, heroic, tragic and deeply troubling tale. War is a horror that can serve a good cause. Baxell provides a full account of mostly working-class people who voluntarily went to war for a good cause that they believed in. Based on an extraordinary range of material, it is a splendid thing to have this full and satisfying account.' -- Peter Stansky The Volunteer 'Richard Baxell is one of the world's greatest experts on the International Brigades. Unlikely Warriors is not only the definitive work on the British volunteers in terms of its research base and its awareness of the complex British, Spanish and international contexts. It is also a superbly written and deeply moving vision of the inspiring but doomed efforts of men and women to halt Europe's descent into war.' -- Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Holocaust