An impressive and often powerful book dealing with one of the most dramatic episodes of the Spanish war, the siege of the Alcazar by the Spanish Loyalists in 1933. The author has used a large cast of characters to represent the various political, social and religious forces at play during the war -- and the chapters shift, now to one, now to another. The iron-willed commandant who held out through 71 days of disease, hunger, desperation and cracking morale; the communist hostages; the various Francoist groups,-aristocrats, royalists, power drunk politicos, Falangistas, Catholics; all standing by for different reasons. At the close every individual tenet is challenged by the larger and more potent needs of humanity. He handles the basic policies with the singular objectivity, treating the Franco side perceptively and sympathetically, although his personal adherence is to the Loyalists. It is a large canvas, but the characters represent ideas rather than personalities, and one does not come to grips with them, as human beings. But the stress and final torture of the siege, the cross-currents of the human versus the ideological beliefs, is remarkably well done. A virile book.