When Francisco Franco and his colleagues rebelled against Republican Spain in July 1936, they made straight for the capital, Madrid, hoping for a quick victory. The Republican government eventually fled, but the city held out, surviving the major test of November of that year, and was turned over to the Fascists only at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The defense of Madrid has long been the stuff of legend, and Kurzman wants instead to tell the story from the eyes of the participants; he's conducted ""more than five hundred"" interviews with survivors and relatives, as well as drawn upon diaries and letters. But his story remains essentially a narrative, and all that we know of the people involved is what they were doing during the siege. The tales of sacrifice, terror, and Republican squabbling are graphic; but by comparison with Ronald Fraser's truly magisterial Blood of Spain (p. 426), we know too little about these people themselves and how they got there. Kurzman also has an axe to grind--for him, the villains are the Communists, since Stalin manipulated the Spaniards in the interests of Soviet foreign-policy and the Party persecuted its Republican allies. Soviet duplicity does not, however, cancel out either the contributions of the International brigades to the defense of Madrid or the refusal of other countries--especially Britain and France--to offer any help to the Republic at all. Kurzman tells us more than we knew before of the daily lives of people in Madrid in 1936. but Fraser has made it make sense.