An excellent, ironic, deeply felt British study of the foreigners who banded into brigades in Spain to help the Republican Army fight Franco's Nationalists...This is the first study devoted solely to these brigades, rather than to the war as a whole, and it reveals much personal correspondence on the author's part with men who were there. Not the least of this book's virtues is that it helps less informed readers straighten out the incredibly entangled alliances of the ""last romantic war."" (For a sympathetic view from Franco's side, see Cecil Eby's exciting The Siege of the Alcazar, p. 973). The central action of this study is the siege of Madrid where internationals from all over come to fight the Fascist army, attempting to overthrow the new Communist government. The Communists had previously eliminated the priest-dominated conservative government (and the Communist mass murder of tens of thousands of priests and nuns is scanted). The brigades' components shift so often among themselves that one can only suggest the complexity of the story. Author Brome simplifies it well by counterpointing chapters by nationality, then synthesizing it in the final debacle. The bottom dropped out of the brigade when Stalin signed the non-aggression pact with Hitler. Some of the book's best passages relate the later history of the leaders during WWII and the McCarthy era, when early idealism turned to dust. An incisive commentary on history tinged with black humor.