Book Review: Comrades And Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War


by Cecil D. Eby

University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ, 2007. Pp. xv, 510. Illus, maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $41.95. ISBN: 0271029102

Comrades and Commissars is a greatly revised and expanded version  of Eby's Between the Bullet and the Lie, which appeared in 1969, shortly after his 1965 The Siege of the Alcazar, which dealt with one of the many other highly controversial aspects of what continues to be an amazingly contentious war.

The revised work draws upon a vast wealth of documentation not available at the time of the earlier version, particularly from Spanish and Soviet archives, the many memoirs and histories of the war that have appeared since, and additional interviews with veterans and others, including some former Nationalist personnel.  Thus, Comrades and Commissars gives a more detailed and nuanced account of the American volunteers who fought for the Spanish Republic

Excoriated by the "addicts of Communism", who still parrot the "Party Line," Eby nevertheless is very clearly in the Republican camp, and very sympathetic to those who served. Nevertheless, he is if anything even more critical of the leadership and purposes of the International Brigades and of the American Communist Party that betrayed both the Loyalist cause and the troops than he was in his earlier book. 

This work is an essential read for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War, the improvisation of armies, and men under fire.



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