Book Review: Fighting for Spain: The International Brigades in the Civil War, 1936–1939


by Alexander Clifford

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2020. Pp. vii, 252. Illus., maps, diagr., tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $42.95. ISBN: 1526774380

International Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

Clifford addresses the role of the volunteers of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), who have attracted more interest in the English-speaking world than the mainstay of Loyalist resistance, the People’s Republican Army, about which he earlier wrote a good book.

Although, as is often the case, Clifford tends to overstate the role of the brigades in the defense of Madrid, and particularly the role of the English speaking contingents. But he is generally more even-handed about many other matters. He addresses several subjects usually ignored in books on the brigades, notably the communist bias in the selection of officers, which often led to serious casualties due to inept but politically connected commanders, such as Robert Merriman or Oliver Law. While he touches on the suppression of political dissenters, the matter is explored more fully in the late Cecil Eby’s Comrades and Commissars.

Clifford also handles the larger war rather well, noting that atrocities were perpetrated by both sides, and even gives more credit to Franco’s Italian allies than is customary.

Fighting for Spain is a good book on a contentious subject.




StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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