Book Review: Conspiracy, Coup d'etat and Civil War in Seville, 1936-1939: History and Myth in Francoist Spain

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by Ruben Serem

Brighton, Eng.: Sussex Academic Press / Portland, Or: ISBS, 2017. Pp. xviii, 298. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $79.95. ISBN: 1845198816

Spiking a Persistent Myth

In this volume, Dr. Serérm (Nottingham) addresses one of the most enduring myths of the Spanish Civil War, the role of Queipo de Llano in the success of the military conspiracy and coup d’état in Seville in July of 1936, specifically the general’s oft repeated claim to have captured the city against “Red hordes” numbering in the thousand with just “180” men and a bravado show of force.

Marshalling considerable evidence, Serérm demonstrates that Queipo did not take the city with a handful of men against the thousands of “Reds”, and in fact had only a peripheral role in the Nationalist capture of the place, which was accomplished by several thousand regular troops and Nationalist militiaman against slight resistance.

Serérm then goes on to examine Queipo’s role in governing the city and Andalucia, on which he imposed a brutal regime, executing thousands, while creating a kleptocratic enterprise that further impoverished the area.

There are some problems with Serérm’s account. For one thing, he fails to adequate explain how the apparently left-leaning Queipo ended up on the Nationalist side. In addition, the book would have benefited from amore attention to the Leftist role in violence, particularly the activities of the revolutionary death squads that operated in the final days of the Republic and during the early days of the Nationalist uprising, and a few maps and a less snarky tone would have been useful.

Despite these reservations, Conspiracy, Coup d’état, and Civil War in Seville, a volume in the series “Canada Blanch / Sussex Academic Studies on Contemporary Spain”, does give us excellent, insightful look at one of the most well known – and least understood – episodes of the Spanish Civil War.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   


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