On Sunday I received a request from a Catholic blogger for my suggestions for readings in regard to the Spanish Civil War, a subject which I have always found fascinating. Here is my response:
The go to man on the Spanish Civil War is Stanley Payne. He has been writing on the conflict since the Fifties. He interviewed many of the leaders of the various factions in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. Originally a man of the Left, I think it would be fair now to call him a conservative, but what he is above all is a first class historian.
I would recommend his The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union and Communism, and for background his Spain a Unique History, which is not only an overview of controversies in Spanish History, but also a memoir of his life spent studying Spanish History. His look at how the present Spanish Socialist government is using the Civil War for political purposes is biting and incisive.
Here is a link to his books on Amazon.
Anthony Beevor, although somewhat sympathetic to the Anarchists, did an excellent one volume history a few years ago which is superb about showing the military mistakes of the Republic.
The best memoir of a participant that I have read is Combat Over Spain by the Duke of Lerma. He served as a nationalist pilot during the war. Growing up in a bi-lingual family, he wrote his memoir in both English and Spanish. His descriptions of life in Spain prior to the Civil War and during it give the reader a feel for the conflict lacking in other works.
I have learned more about Spain and the Spanish Civil War from Gironella’s trilogy of novels, however, than I have from all the hundreds of histories I have read on that conflict.
The response took only a few minutes to draft and I didn’t think more about it until I came across this story on Midwest Conservative Blog, the blog of Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic blogger who has taken up the cudgels for the Faith so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, and who recently won our prestigious Cross and Eagle 2011 award for most Catholic Non-Catholic Blog:
The Spanish left wins friends and influences people:
We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful.So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.A gay couple came and made out in front of us but whatever.Anyway, Dominic made us stand up because he felt threatened so we finished our Rosary standing but on the last decade, a fight broke out right next to us between the Catholics who had been standing behind us and and the protesters so some of the other Catholics lead us out of the crowd.We went back and dropped our bags with Louise and this time Mim stayed back so it was just Me & Dominic & Greg & Billy who went back and prayed a second rosary on the side of the crowd and we got more of the same, people getting up in our faces screaming.
Yeah, I noticed the rainbow flag. Probably just a coincidence.
Go here to read the comments.
When it comes to endless murderous hatred of the Catholic Church, no one can beat the Spanish Left. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, forces on the Left in Spain massacred 283 nuns and sisters, 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests, and 2,364 monks, friars, brothers and priests of religious orders. Their deaths were often accompanied with every cruelty and sacrilege the fertile minds of their tormentors could conjure up. There were atrocious massacres on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, but this mass murder of totally innocent men and women of God set the tone for the bitterness with which the War was conducted. Apparently the modern Spanish Left has not fallen far from the hatred of the Church that led to the crimes of their ideological forebears.