Hochschild ably explores subtle shades of the conflict that contemporary authors and participants did not want to consider.



A nuanced look at the messy international allegiances forged during the Spanish Civil War.

Accomplished historian and Mother Jones co-founder Hochschild (To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, 2011, etc.) considers every facet of this complicated civil war, using personal narratives of some of the participants, especially the Americans in the Lincoln Brigade, for elucidation and depth. The war was not a clear-cut idealistic struggle between Republican and Fascist, good and bad, although the author delineates well how both sides had hoped it would be. With Francisco Franco’s right-wing military coup of July 1936, launched from Spanish Morocco and amply supplied by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the Nationalists were on a reactionary mission to purge the country of the democratically elected Popular Front government, communists, union members, and anyone left-leaning and anti-Catholic. Hochschild points out that the revolution was very much a social upheaval, in which the class system was abolished, women were emancipated, and workers were allowed to own the farmland that they toiled. On one hand, the socialist euphoria erupting in the Basque and Catalonia regions attracted many left-leaning sympathizers in America and Europe, such as Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. On the other hand, that very “virus of bolshevism” scared many conservative governments from offering military aid—e.g., England and isolationist-gripped America, where an arms embargo against Spain was declared and niftily skirted by Texaco’s chief Torkild Rieber, who supplied the oil for the German planes to bomb the country into submission. In desperation, Republican leaders reached out to the Soviet Union for military aid, further complicating the political mix. The author looks at the poignant stories of young American couples who helped galvanize world opinion while sacrificing their dreams for the bitter, brutal, anti-fascist struggle that proved merely the warm-up for the world war to come.

Hochschild ably explores subtle shades of the conflict that contemporary authors and participants did not want to consider.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-97318-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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