A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.



Chilling history of the class-fueled institutionalized violence perpetrated mostly by the reactionary Francoists during the Spanish Civil War.

Scholar Preston (London School of Economics; We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 2009, etc.) uses the word Holocaust self-consciously but deliberately in this exhaustive treatment of the horrendous violence the Spanish waged against each other to annihilate mutually “undesirable” elements. The friction between the agrarian oligarchy and the landless day laborers and radicalized leftists had been escalating throughout the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931. However, the reactionary defenders of order, alarmed by the fall of the monarchy and breakdown in status quo, believed the new regime was a “Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over Spain”—therefore violence against it was justified. While the Socialist leader Francisco Largo Caballero propounded revolutionary slogans that incited the hungry masses, the fascist Falange led by General Franco spoke repeatedly of the conspiracy masterminded by the Jews and international foreigners (the contubernio, or “filthy cohabitation”). Preston concentrates on the systematic spread of terror and repression by forces of the right in specific areas of Spain; they moved from town to town, hunting out “reds,” often with the enthusiastic collaboration of the local landowning class. (During this time the poet Federico García Lorca was dragged out and shot.) The right-wing uprising particularly targeted leftist women, who had enjoyed new status and rights under the Republic. Using techniques of terror perfected against the Moroccan population, Franco and his hardened Africanistas moved to subjugate Madrid by slaughter, dismemberment and rape. Preston focuses on the staggering toll of the violence and the Francoist spin that stretches well into the present without proper reckoning.

A rigorous, scrupulously researched study.

Pub Date: March 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-06476-6

Page Count: 676

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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