Book Review: The Second Spanish Republic Revisited: From Democratic Hopes to Civil War (1931-1936)

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by Manuel Álvarez Tardío & Fernando del Rey Reguillo, editors

Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Portland, Or.: International Specialized Book Services, 2012. Pp. x, 280. Notes, biblio., index. $74.95. ISBN: 1845194

A fresh, surprisingly even-handed look at the tragic history of the Second Spanish Republic

The historiography of the Spanish Republic and Civil War has largely been dominated by the propagandistic “democracy vs. fascism” view established in the 1930s.  But there have always been contrarian interpretations, naturally from apologists for the Franco regime and some from the anti-Communist left, but in recent decades also from both liberal and conservative scholars looking beyond ideology for nuance and detail.  This volume continues the latter line of inquiry. 

The book opens with an essay by Stanley G. Payne, long the most thoughtful scholar trying to work through the complexities of the most politicized civil war in modern European history.  There follow more than a dozen essays by younger scholars, most of them Spanish.  These look at the historical, social, economic, and political foundations on which the republic was built, comparing and contrasting these with those of, for example, the Weimar republic established in Germany a decade earlier.  Several essays examine the various parties and factions (several brands of socialists and of communists, bourgeois republicans, the Catholic center-right coalition, Falangists, and other rightists), none of which were wholly innocent of helping to bring about the disaster.  There are also essays on the role of the Guardia Civil during the Republic (mostly obeying orders), intellectuals (divided), repression under both the Republic during the struggle and the Franco regime after it, and a very thoughtful piece on the “irrelevance of Fascism in Spain.”  Oddly missing are essays on the armed forces, which were much less ideologically united than is often reported, the Church, which was as much victim as actor in the events, and the Anarchists, certainly among the most colorful factions in Spain at the time, and among the Republic’s most effective fighters.

A volume in the series "Studies in Spanish History," The Second Spanish Republic Revisited provides an excellent look at the current state of scholarship on the republic and the civil war.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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