On April 26, 1937 the German Luftwaffe began relentless bombing and machine-gunning of businesses, homes and villages to test a new type of warfare waged from the air, at the request of General Francisco Franco and his rebel forces. Three and a half hours later, the village lay in ruins, its population decimated. This act of terror and unspeakable cruelty - the first intentional, large-scale attack against a nonmilitary target in modern warfare - outraged the world, and compelled a Spanish painter to respond with artistic fury. Pablo Picasso, an expatriate living in Paris, reacted immediately to the devastation in his homeland by beginning work on the canvas that would become his testament against the horrors of war.
Weaving themes of conflict and redemption, doom and transcendence, and featuring some of the century's most memorable and infamous figures, Martin follows this renowned masterwork from its creation through its journey across decades, from many countries of Europe to America and finally and triumphantly to Spain. Picasso's War is a book that vividly demonstrates how vital art is to human lives and how sometimes it even transfigures tragedy, a story that delivers an unforgettable portrait of an artistic genius whose visionary rendering of the terrible wounds of war still resonates profoundly today.
"Martin meticulously describes the painting's creation and context [and] focuses on the controversies that haunted the canvas for decades." (Publishers Weekly)
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Great mix of art and history
This book tells the story of one of Picasso's most famous paintings and provides the context for understanding its origin and importance. Don't be scared away by the Spanish history that serves as background -- it all ties into World War II and makes for a fascinating backdrop for the story of Guernica, its creation, reception and place in the world.
3 people found this helpful
one of the best books I have listened to/read
This is one of the best books I have listened to/read. The story of the painting itself is fascinating. On top of that, the book is well researched, well-written and read. Highly recommended.
3 people found this helpful
Another "performance" to slowly drive you crazy
This is a good story. The history of the painting Guernica is fascinating and amazing when one considers the stake a people can hold in a single work of art. To this day, even. I have two basic problems with this audiobook. The first is minor and with the text- the author does a good job with the historical text, but I find references to his friend and mentor, Angel, distracting and, for my taste, an over personalization of the story. But, the overall story overcomes this minor annoyance. The second problem, with the "performance,' is a bigger, more pervasive problem that I have with audio books in general, but is particularly irksome here- almost rendering it unlistenable by the end: the narrator assumes accents according to the nationality of the speakers, i.e., Spanish people with spanish accents, French with French, etc. Therefore, he speaks in English, but in an accent even when you know that it's a translation from the French or Spanish. In one case, he's speaking in the (ridiculous) Spanish accent he's assigned to Picasso, as quoted in a letter probably written in English by a French lawyer. This is patently absurd. The narrator's voice has the kind of perfect, dull thud of a tone for a non-fiction text such as this. I say go with that! What is the necessity of dramatizing it? It's so distracting. Ridiculous!!! I would recommend reading this, but don't listen unless you like that sort of thing.