ANOTHER HILL: An Autobiographical Novel of the Spanish Civil War by Milton Wolff

ANOTHER HILL: An Autobiographical Novel of the Spanish Civil War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An in-the-trenches view of the Spanish Civil War. Wolff was the last commander of the American volunteers who battled alongside the Spanish Loyalists, defenders of the progressive and democratically elected government on which General Franco, supported by Mussolini and Hitler, declared war in 1936. While the rest of the world watched, young volunteers came from around the world to fight on the front lines against fascism. Wolff, a 21-year-old from Brooklyn, hopped on a boat for France, then walked over the Pyrenees and started serving as a water carrier. As the eight leaders of the Lincoln and Washington Battalions were either killed or wounded, he found himself moving steadily up through the ranks until he was in command -- just in time for the bloodiest and most hopeless campaigns. More than 50 years later Wolff has written a thinly veiled memoir of that period. He casts Mitch Castle as himself and creates an alter-ego in Leo Rogin, a hapless volunteer who falters in times of crisis (unlike Castle, who seems to be one of those rare individuals able to block out thoughts of mortality while charging at trenches). It may be out of modesty that Wolff has decided to write fiction instead of a straight memoir, but in trying to come up with a novelistic theme -- Castle's blind heroism vs. Rogin's bald fear -- he invites higher expectations that he cannot meet. Another Hill impressively captures the minute-to-minute chaos of the trenches, as well as the grim inevitability of horrible death and suffering, but it is little more than a series of battlefield anecdotes devoid of larger context. Falls flat as a novel, but as a memoir it is a gripping account of the bravery of nonmilitary men fighting for a just cause.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 424pp
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois