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“Spanish Civil War” is a book authored by Andy Durgan, a lecturer in University of Barcelona, Spain. Durgan is historically known to have been Ken Loach’s advisor in production of the film known as Land and Freedom. In this book, Durgan presents a short incisive history and events that accompanied the Spanish Civil War. These also include the actual cause of war fought in Spain between the year 1936 and 1939, the course taken by the war itself, implications of the war more so to the foreign powers as well as the internationalism of the conflict, existence of a socio-political situation in different opposing zones, reasons behind the failure of Republicans and success of Nationalists and the emergence of Franco regime.
Durgan traces a number of preamble events that surmounted and later exploded into the civil war. For instance, the declaration of the liberal and democratic constitution in the month of December 1930 paved way for enactment of reforms by the government. This is depicted to have been followed by the emergence of Manuel Azana as the Prime Minister of the minority people in the government and his actions were considered unjust, barbaric and corrupt by his opponents. Durgan gives accounts of some the events which created friction and later giving birth to the coup that started the civil war after the right had won the 1933 elections. This had been preceded by a number of unsuccessful uprisings championed by General Jose Sanjurio in the month of August 1932.
An in-depth analysis of this book brings out one of the key aims of writing this book to have been to address the debate that grounded within the Republican zone as to whether the revolution could have waited until the end of the war. Actually, Durgan intended to point out the Republican’s inability to successfully prosecute a conventional war as well as the roles played by the revolutionary methods that were employed to enhance success of the war. “Spanish Civil War” relays clear answers to most of the longstanding arguments as to how this war could have been best pursued in a way appealing to the middle class in Spain and foreign democracies, for example. Durgan accounts, “The one time full-scale mobilization was used for military ends, during the siege of Madrid, was an example of how this [revolutionary] enthusiasm could have been successfully integrated into the loyalist war effort.”
In writing this book, the author limits his scope on the background of war. It combats such as republicans, nationalists and other factions such as Catalan and Bosque, foreign involvements, course of war and atrocities of war with the main focus on the Nationalists and Republicans. This makes it easy for the readers to be able to grasp the flow of the book at early stages of their reading.
The author contends to a number of issues through his writing one being the futility of the attempt to establish bourgeois democracy in Spain which at that time was one of the poorest nations in Europe with severity of the global economic crisis during those times. Durgan raises an alarm that Spain’s liberal performers could not manage to satisfy anyone since the country was squeezed between the demands of the vicious ruling class and the movements mainly championed by the radicalised workers. It also becomes clear that the SecondRepublic was challenged by waves of massive strikes, insurrections, armed workers and counter revolutionary plots in the year 1936. This brings home the point that there existed quite a number of socio-economic matters that attributed to the war other than just the common assumption by many people that the wrangles between the Republicans and Nationalists are to be blamed for the atrocities caused by the war in Spain. In actual sense, Durgan brings to readers’ attention the fact that the ruling class being overwhelmed with the strikes and revolts all over the streets in Spain. They regarded the best alternative to be a fascist military takeover. This could abate the working class militancy and even offer a long-lasting protection to their privileges.
In the book, one clear thing that the author attests to or contends is the internationalization of war making it more of a revolutionary war. It becomes crystal clear that the fascist powers managed to use Spain as a country as a potential ground for testing its military strategy and technology. Actually, Durgan pictures the western democracies as very hypocritical having adopted shameful policies of nonintervention whereas in a real sense, Stalin intervened in ensuring that the Republicans could neither win not lose in the war. This was to enable him to have more time in preparing for a titanic clash with Adolf Hitler of Germany and simultaneously strangle any hope of the Spanish masses emerging victorious. Besides, it was also a golden opportunity for the left wingers to take an unshakable stand against fascism in order to thwart any case of Spain following the path of Germany, Italy and Austria. It is because of this that this war has taken a global stance in the today’s world and is becoming increasingly relevant in relation to a variety of studies that dwell on foreign interventions as well as non-interventions and the role that the main powers when it comes to the matters of war. For instance, the international working class raised a public spectacle after giving solidary support to the Republicans, for example, the Aid Movement in Britain gave a team of nurses and doctors to the frontlines.
The strength of this book is found on the subject matter to which it addresses. The book addresses Spanish Civil War which has been unanimously accepted as one of the turning points of the 20th century history, for example, became the rehearsal for the World War II. Moreover, it also became a witness to the end of the revolutionary cycle whose onset is traced to the year 1917. Actually, this factor aroused a lot of interest thus making the subject matter of this book a great point of strength. However, a number of weaknesses has been identified in “Spanish Civil War.” This comes by when considering how the author portrays the involvement of the international community. Durgan’s negative depiction of the international community is a paradox of what most of the current authors point out in matters of involvement of the international community. Many believe that the superior countries were obligated to intervene and the extent or manner of their involvement needs not to be speculated.
Considering the place of “Spanish Civil War” in the literature of its subject, all and sundry who have been mindful of studying this book can come to a consensus that the subject matter provides a wealth of information and analysis that has been used by authors in other literary writing such as poetry, for instance, in sentimental, romantic poems and songs and other inspirational literary works. The best side of these is that there exists a number of literary works of which this books became the bedrock underlying their production, for example, “The Spanish Civil War: A Cultural and Historical Reader” by Alun Kenwood and “Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War” and “The Penguin Book of Spanish Civil War Verse” by Valentine Cunningham.
In conclusion, “Spanish Civil War” is an interesting book bringing to light some of the hidden facts and matters that had been debated over for a long period of time. Durgan with a compromising tone touches on a number of misconceptions and supports his ideas with some of undisputable historical events. Therefore, “Spanish Civil War” is a wonderful book being very educative and informative.