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The Battle for Spain

Narrated by: Sean Barrett
Length: 18 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (251 ratings)

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Summary

The civil war that tore Spain apart between 1936 and 1939 and attracted liberals and socialists from across the world to support the cause against Franco was one of the most hard-fought and bitterest conflicts of the 20th century: a war of atrocities and political genocide and a military testing ground before WWII for the Russians, Italians and Germans, whose Condor Legion so notoriously destroyed Guernica.

Antony Beevor's account narrates the origins of the Civil War and its violent and dramatic course from the coup d'etat in July 1936 through the savage fighting of the next three years which ended in catastrophic defeat for the Republicans in 1939. And he succeeds especially well in unravelling the complex political and regional forces that played such an important part in the origins and history of the war.

©2006 Antony Beevor (P)2011 Orion
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent, complete, not for beginners

Excellent and detailed book about the Spanish Civil War. Great narrator. Beevor goes into detail about the Civil War inside the Civil War, and Stalin's use and abuse of the Republican cause. A great book, very thorough, with historical, geographical, political and military angles well covered; yet it manages to stay at the level of human interaction and to be moving and reflective

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great, but just too much

Beevor is without doubt one of the world's best historians. His works on Stalingrad and Berlin have won him international kudos. This is the first of his books to make it on to Audible, despite several requests. The Spanish war comes to life and the inconceivable savagery, incompetence, neglect, slaughter, hatred and indifference which pervaded this tragic period are vividly painted. Sadly, although it is meticulously researched and brilliantly detailed, it fails as an audiobook. There are just too many names, the sequence of events is too convoluted to remember and eventually the listener loses the plot. Great narration.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, but the wrong format

Any additional comments?

I'm a great fan of audiobooks, and history ones in particular. However, this book would be best in the good old-fashioned dead tree format, because that gives you two things an audiobook doesn't: maps and an index.

Maps are vital if your geography of Spain is anything less than A-level standard, and mine isn't even up to basic tourist standard.

An index is very, very vital. I can sympathise with other reviewers who have talked about the barrage of names that hits you, particularly in the opening chapters. They can indeed get confusing. In, say, a history of World War 2 it's pretty easy to tell which side a certain name belongs to, but with a civil war, no such luck (unless the name is German or Russian, which in fairness many are). As such it's fairly easy to lose track of who's fighting on which side, which wouldn't happen if you could quickly flip to the index (which you can't do on a kindle, either, or at least not very easily).

Other preparations which would probably pay dividends would be to swot up on the Spanish name formats, as they aren't straightforward and don't always make sense to an anglophone ear; and also to be clear on Spanish pronunciation. Sean Barrett is to be congratulated on the excellence of his Spanish accent when names of people or places appear in the text, but I sometimes found myself wondering how a certain name would actually be spelt. Again, an argument that for me at least, this was in the wrong format.

Despite all this the book was a pleasant experience overall, and as my only real understanding of the Spanish Civil War before this came from "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Homage To Catalonia", it answered many questions. It can also be seen in many ways as a prequel to the Second World War, and for that reason forms a vital part of European history which deserves to be better understood.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A proper detailed look at this overlooked war

I enjoyed this book. The narration is easy on the ear and pitched at the right tempo and tone for the subject matter.
My only criticism is that no mention is made of how Franco treated the Moroccan army or anyone who did not fit in with his "White Spanish" vision. I suppose it's technically after the war but zero mention is made when other aftermath aspects are.
Still enjoyed it though and recommend it if the subject title interests you.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great

A very good listen - very accessible to the layman. Seems to cover just about everything with just suffecient depth.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

Really exciting retelling of the history. Loved it. For me it was more like a Tom Clancy or Frederick Forsyth novel.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

another great history

another great Beevor history, a comprehensive work about a subject I didn't know very much about beforehand. well read by Sean Barret how I now think off in my head as Anthony Beevor

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Objective History at its Best

The Battle for Spain provides a comprehensive, objective history of the Spanish Civil War. In addition to covering the military aspect of the war, the book explains the politics of and within each side – the civil wars within the civil war. The response of foreign powers to the Spanish Civil War is also covered.

Although Sean Barrett sounds like he would rather not be narrating a book, one can quickly get used to his reading style.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A civil war the scale and breadth of which is little understood outside of Spain

This work examines the complex layers of a conflict beset by internecine tensions within both the nationalist and republican movements. One cannot help but be moved by the enormous and pointless loss of life on the alters of hubris and ideology or be angered by the deceit and hypocrisy of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and The Soviet Union. The romantic myths surrounding The International Brigades is exposed as just propagandist twaddle whilst those who propagated it valued their own rhetoric over the lives of those in their care. There can barely be a family in Spain not to have been touched by this conflict the viciousness of which is all too clear. Highly recommended as an insight into military strategy and tactics, international politics and theme barbarous capacity of humanity.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Complicated war

Enjoyed the audio book, it's very complicated subject, this audio book was a nice intro for me, I intend to keep studying and probably re-listen to this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • BoxBender
  • 22-04-16

A thorough analysis of the Spanish Civil War

Detailed, balanced analysis. Illuminates also why the war was a dress rehearsal for WWII as Britain and France gifted an opportunity to Hitler to hone his military killing machine in aid of the brutal Franco, and why Orwell was right to leave Spain with a dread of Stalinism.