Book Review: Modern Warfare in Spain: American Military Observations on the Spanish Civil War


by James W. Cortada, editor

Dulles: Potomac Books, 2012. Pp. xxx, 334. Illus., maps, chron., notes, index. $35.00. ISBN: 1597975567

More than 70 years after its conclusion, the Spanish Civil War remains among the most contentious events of the twentieth century, perceived at the time to provide insights into the changing nature of warfare, and a war still being waged by some.

In Modern Warfare in Spain, Cortada, author of a several excellent works on the conflict, has put together a collection of reports and observations made during the war by the American military attachés.  These men were, in effect, collecting first impressions of “modern warfare” as it quite literally unfolded before their eyes. So we get reports on battles, organization, weapons, and more, all presented in chronological fashion, as Cortada follows the observers from campaign to campaign.  This approach is very useful.  Due of the very nature of the work of the attachés, not all of their observations, comments, and criticisms were accurate, often being based on first impressions and incomplete information.  But a surprising number of their reports were quite insightful, and their evaluations of people and events as they unfolded are often useful.

Modern Warfare in Spain is an excellent book for the serious student of the Spanish Civil War and of the evolution of warfare in the twentieth century, as these materials have been largely untouched by historians.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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