Book Review: The Spanish Republic and Civil War


by Julián Casanova

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xi, 358. Maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $33.00 paper. ISBN: 052173780X

More than 70 years since its end, the Spanish Civil War retains an emotional intensity for some on the left matched only by that of the American Civil War for some on the right. Nevertheless, a more balanced view has been growing, a trend usefully furthered by this work, originally published in Spain in 2007. 

In The Spanish Republic and Civil War Prof. Casanova (Zaragoza), author of several notable books on the conflict (alas, mostly available only in Spanish, but see, for example, Anarchism, the Republic and Civil War in Spain: 1931-1939), while sympathetic to the Republic, looks at Spain in the early twentieth century with greater nuance than the prevailing Manichean “Democracy vs. Fascism” view, apportioning credit and blame with a reasonably even hand.  He does a good job of coping with the often convoluted politics, complex personalities, revolutionary turmoil, and a bitterly fought war. Although Casanova could be better in military matters (e.g., detail on the Azaña reform of the army is sparse and as is
information needed on the improvisation of the surprisingly effective People’s Republican Army), and he fails to define unusual terms (e.g., “somaten”, the traditional militia in Catalonia and some other regions), this is an excellent survey of one of the most critical events in modern history.

A valuable read for anyone interested in Spain, Twentieth Century Europe, or the Second World War.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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