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Publisher's Summary

A fresh and acclaimed account of the Spanish Civil War by the best-selling author of Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War's outbreak, Antony Beevor has written a completely updated and revised account of one of the most bitter and hard-fought wars of the 20th century. With new material gleaned from Russian archives and numerous other sources, this brisk and accessible audiobook (Spain's number-one best seller for 12 weeks) provides a balanced and penetrating perspective, explaining the tensions that led to this terrible overture to World War II and affording new insights into the war - its causes, course, and consequences.

©2006 Ocito Ltd (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Battle for Spain

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I keep looking for a book on the Spanish...

Civil War that is without a pro Republican slant. Anthony Beevor attempts to be neutral, but, alas, he is not successful. I don’t know if this results from bad luck or bad management, but as the son of a Spanish Civil War refugee whose family was murdered by the communists, I would very much like to read/listen to an account that expresses a view not so partisan. Very refreshing was the author taking Hemingway and the intelligentsia – somewhat - to task. Nonetheless, the Republican side is “personalized“… The author talks about the courage or the individual sacrifices or the incidence of bravery when cataloging successes and even the Republican failures (Fortunately he steers away from excusing their excesses). while the nationalists are referred to in a sterile, historical fashion, and they never escape the condemnation of “fascism”. Franco fairs little better. Despite the fact that a very plausible argument can be made Franco saved Spain from itself, from the monstrosities of communism, from World War II and Hitler. Punch line? Worthwhile, but prone to “accepted” (politically correct) revelations.

26 people found this helpful

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Not an Accurate History Book

This book is very biased and slanted. Anthony Beever does not understand the subject very well and it shows throughout the book. Probably Beever tried his best, but so much of the English accounts of the Spanish Civil War are written by Marxists and Communists of England, America, and France. Beevor even cites Orwell's Spanish writings as a source. However, George Orwell in Spain in 1936 was a Communist terror tourist, fighting for Stalin. Orwell only wrote Animal Farm and 1984, about 10 years later in 1945, In 1936 Spain, Orwell was fighting for Napoleon the Pig. Ernest Hemingway, also a Beevor source, is also a known Marxist. Hemingway wrote for the American party magazine, the "New Masses."

In this way, Beevor spins the popular fantasy that the Spanish Republic was a friendly Western European Republic like something in Denmark today. He skips over the murder, intimidation, rape, violence, and mayhem orchestrated by the Republican partisans in their "election". There is no mention of the Parracuellos or Carcel Modelo massacres in this book.

There is also no mention of Valentin Gonzalez. The original "Che Guevara" that fled to the USSR after the Civil War, that later escaped from Stalin's paradise and came back to Spain! He confessed his massacres, atrocities, and that he fought for totalitarians. Also spilled the beans of the Purges and Murders even within the ranks of the "republic". Doesn't North Korea call it self a "Republic"?

Beever probably wanted to write a war book and that's it. Understanding Spain was probably too much work. Read a Spanish book on this subject. There are many.

50 people found this helpful

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Engrossing Tale of the Rise of Fascism in Europe

If you could sum up The Battle for Spain in three words, what would they be?

A lesson unlearned.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The most important conflict you've never heard of.

Any additional comments?

The Story:

The story of the Spanish Civil War is a cautionary tale about the price of government isolationism and stagnation in a world of social change. Old regimes lost their international sway as new social and political divisions began to reshape the 20th century world and as war-weary isolationism made strong international policy impossible in the western democracies. Ideas flowed freely across borders, eventually followed by money, soldiers and materiel. The West's commitment to non-intervention ensured both the radicalization of the Second Spanish Republic under influence of the Soviet Union, and their eventual defeat by Franco's Nationalist forces. This was the original proxy war of the 20th century, and it had long reaching repercussions for Europe and North America as the century continued into World War Two and the Cold War.

The Text:

Antony Beevor weaves social, political, military and personal history together to create a wide-angle tapestry of the events of the Spanish Civil War. This comprehensive approach allows him to keep the narrative interesting without sacrificing content or context. The stories he tells are relatable, and you don't need a history degree to enjoy or understand this book. Beevor is also even-handed with his depiction of the warring factions. He takes time to show the failings of the Republicans and the human side of the Nationalists.

The Performance:

As others have pointed out, Sean Barrett's narration is a bit monotone. But to be honest, I didn't notice until I saw a review saying so. In a way, the performance fits. Barrett's measured, reserved tone matches Beevor's attempt to remain emotionally distant from the subject matter, allowing him to explore the history in an unbiased way. I never had a problem understanding what Barrett was saying, but I did catch a flubbed line that made it past the editor. Otherwise, his enunciation and intonation were perfectly fine.

Bottom Line:

If you love the history of the World Wars, the Cold War or the rise international socialism this book is a must have. It is accessible, well researched and well written. You wont be dissapointed.

Additional Reading:

If you want something with a more personal touch, try George Orwell's autobiographical Homage to Catalonia. If you want more American centric stories, try Adam Hochscild's Spain in Our Hearts. Both are on audible and are great compliments to Beevor's overview of the subject.

25 people found this helpful

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Well researched; thorough. Made Beevors bias even more disappointing.

If you already have a grasp on the overview of the Spanish Civil War; want an in depth look at some of its root causes, political intrigue; meticulous coverage of the subsequent military campaigns by both sides, then this is the book for you. HOWEVER: you need to be aware that this book is slanted towards a pro-Republican; anti-clerical point of view. Beevor pulls no punches about this; it will be made abundantly clear within the first 2 hours of listening.

Also, when it comes to recording individual experiences, most of the primary sources he cites come from those embedded in the Republican camp; transforms the Republicans into a much more personalised experience as opposed to the Nationalists. Though I doubt that this was done nefariously, it infers to the reader that the Republicans can be seen as the protagonist of the story; covers the Nationalists with a sterility that could be interpreted as that of, at the least, a passive antagonist.

Overall, despite its failings, Beevor does a much better job presenting the contextualised conflict as opposed to some of his peers who have made forays into the history of the Spanish Civil War. That is, if you can set aside the bias’ of this book at the outset.

7 people found this helpful

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Great overview of this important conflict

There are lots of implications for today's American incivility. There are hotheads on both political sides who ought to read this book and realize how their uncompromising stances can lead to a horrible situation.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book about a history little known.

Antony Beevor always writes a fast moving, focused and informative book. This sad story is very engrossing and easy to read and connect from beginning roots in 1492 until the war starts in 1936 and concludes in 1939. The review of actions, what did and missed opportunities is excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

A clear description of a complicated war. Although the author tries to be fair, and for the most part is, one can’t help but detect an anti-nationalist (anti-Franco, anti-Catholic) bias. This, however, may be more my personal feelings about the war seen through my anti communist lens.
The reader is excellent.

10 people found this helpful

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confusing

I love history. but this book is written with little to no explanation of terms and acronyms that are frequently used. Additionally, the narrators pace is very quick. It's a very interesting story, I just wish it was written and preformed with more clarity.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting book marred by poor reading

Imagine trying to listen to a history about Spain, where you are introduced to character after character, event after event, in rapid fire fashion by a a reader who doesn't seem to need to breathe? No pauses, no delay between sentences, just a waterfall of information by the water boarder of book readers.

Sad. Couldn't get too far in to it before moving on to something else.

1 person found this helpful

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Antony Beevor inspirational Historic tell

The Battle for Spain gives great details into the causes and effects of the civil war without taking on a preferred side.

8 people found this helpful