Book Review: Churchill and Spain: The Survival of the Franco Regime, 1940-1945


by Richard Wigg

Portland, Or.: Sussex Academic Press/ISBS, 2008. Pp. xiv, 253. Notes, biblio., index. $37.50. ISBN: 1845192834

Drawing upon British Foreign Office documents only declassified in 2002, veteran Times of London correspondent Wigg takes a look at the complex relations between the Allies -- personified primarily by Winston Churchill -- and the Francoist Spain during World War II, which ultimately led to the survival of the Franco regime for another 30 years. 

Wigg gives the reader a very detailed account of what was an extremely delicate relationship.  Initially, a very weak Britain had to use every possible resource to keep an even weaker, but strategically critical, Spain, from openly joining the seemingly all-powerful Axis.  As both countries engaged in diplomatic, economic, and even military sparring, Britain, of course, became stronger, while the Axis became weaker, effecting significant changes in Spain's foreign policy, most importantly veering from not-quite open support of the Axis to not-quite open support of the Allies. 

Wigg has considerable detail on Spain's domestic situation, a desperate economic crisis, plots by pro-Axis and anti-Axis generals, corruption, and more, along with some interesting portraits of several of the principal figures, most notably Franco, whom he describes as the least dictatorial dictator. 

Surprisingly even-handed for a work dealing with Franco, Churchill and Spain is an important read for anyone with an interest in modern Spain, World War II, or diplomatic history.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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