Book Review: American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War


by Eric R. Smith

Columbia: University of Missouri, 2013. Pp. xiv, 194. Append., notes., biblio., index. $60.00. ISBN: 0826220096

American Humanitarian Support for Embattled Spain

Most books about the United States and the Spanish-Civil War deal with diplomacy or the overblown role of American volunteers for the Republic.  In this volume, Dr. Smith takes a look at a neglected side of this most controversial conflict of the twentieth century, American relief assistance. 

Smith opens with a more even handed the usual look at the origins and course of the war, which has become increasingly common in treatments of the war.  In addition to looking at the very widespread, and not entirely liberal or leftist, outpouring of support for the Republican side, he also looks at assistance offered to the Nationalist side, mostly conservative and Catholic, though not totally. 

This approach allows Smith to explore rifts in the political bases of the two sides, notably the anti-Stalinist factions in the Republican camp.  One interesting aspect of his account is that he looks at the abortive attempts to organize humanitarian aid for Ethiopia during the Italian invasion the year before civil war broke out in Spain, which was less successful , due, apparently, partially to racism and partially to Stalin’s lack of interest, which provided some experience in organization and publicity. 

A very interesting, well researched, and thoughtful work, American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War will be primarily of interest to students of the Spanish Civil War or the history of “movements” in America.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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