Regular price: $23.94

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

From bloodthirsty conquest to exotic romance, stereotypes of Spain abound. This new volume by distinguished historian Stanley G. Payne draws on his half-century of experience to offer a balanced, broadly chronological survey of Spanish history from the Visigoths to the present. Who were the first “Spaniards”? Is Spain a fully Western country? Was Spanish liberalism a failure? Examining Spain's unique role in the larger history of Western Europe, Payne reinterprets key aspects of the country's history.

Topics include Muslim culture in the peninsula, the Spanish monarchy, the empire, and the relationship between Spain and Portugal. Turning to the twentieth century, Payne discusses the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War. The book's final chapters focus on the Franco regime, the nature of Spanish fascism, and the special role of the military. Analyzing the figure of Franco himself, Payne seeks to explain why some Spaniards still regard him with respect, while many others view the late dictator with profound loathing.

Framed by reflections on the author's own formation as a Hispanist and his evaluation of the controversy about “historical memory” in contemporary Spain, this volume offers deeply informed insights into both the history and the historiography of a unique country.

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book

©2011 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System (P)2012 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

“An excellent, balanced discussion of important controversies.” (Juan Linz, author of Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes)
“Concise, engaging, and above all scholarly, this volume offers a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of Spanish history.” (Julius Ruiz, author of Franco's Justice)
“Thoughtful yet provocative; indispensable reading for everyone.” ( CHOICE)

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    17
  • 1 Stars
    16

Performance

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    17
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    14

Story

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    14
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • San Luis Obispo, CA, United States
  • 02-07-13

An Academic Wonder

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would highly recommend this to anyone who has the patience to listen closely to a deeply layered analysis of Spanish history. I found the academic tone of the work to be highly stimulating. This is no rough sketch such as you might find in any lesser work; the author brings his long career as an historian and academician to bear on analyzing everything from economics to war to geography to politics in the shaping the Spain of today.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The discussion of the highly controversial dictator Franco was intensely interesting, as was having a better understanding of the root causes of the Civil War. But so was the entire story from the Visigoths to the Twenty-First Century.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened him before, but he gave an incredible performance in spite of his understandably Anglicized enunciation of tons of Spanish words. Getting past those hiccups was a bit distracting, but not much.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The closing chapter, in which specific conclusions are drawn to illustrate what Spain is today and where it might be going, from the perspective of a very intelligent social scientist.

Any additional comments?

The lengthy introduction was tedious but probably necessary in order to establish the author's credibility. The rest of the work was so good that I've given it a couple of listens. Of course, just having traveled through Spain for the first time added to the correlative joy of hearing this. I highly recommend this unique outlook on the history of an amazing culture.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An outstanding book on history

What did you love best about Spain?

This book is of particular interest to those who are interested in history not only for facts and stories but for an understanding of how things came to pass, not only on the primary level of events but also on the levels of how these are interpreted, transformed and transmitted. It is a very rich work that gives insights into historiography as well as history. I came away feeling enriched in many ways.

The discussion of the Arabic occupation and how it has been seen at different times is alone worth the price of the book to me. I had a rosy vision of a tolerant and cultivated Islamic state that contrasted with the rough and bigoted Christians; this book not only sets the record straight but also explains where this idealized vision comes from.

Do not pass up this book because of negative reviews, though these are right in saying that it is not written for those who want a easy account of the personages and events of Spanish history. The reader is also good, and though he reads foreign words with a pronounced American accent, he does not MISpronounce Spanish words as some reviews suggest (the incomprehensible words they allude to are probably Latin or French). Spanish words are all comprehensible, though the rare French words are seriously mispronounced.

Any additional comments?

The book is quite dense and not a "easy listen". Negative reviewers are not wrong to bring this up, but I am extremely grateful for having listened to it. It gives a wonderful overview of Spanish history with invaluable insights, but it is not a "concise history of Spain" and needs to be complemented by other books if you know little about Spanish and European history.

The author's account of his academic career is both interesting and meaningful in the context of an important subject central to the book: historiography. I CAN understand how a casual listener might be put off by this book, and I would not recommend it to everyone. But to those with a somewhat deeper interest in history, it is a real find.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not really what I was looking for....

I was looking for a basic history of Spain. The book started with hours of the author basically telling the reader about himself, seeming to justify his authority to write the book. He then goes into exhaustive details of Spanish history, presupposing that the reader already has more than a rudimentary knowledge of the subject. For example, he often drops names of obscure people or refers to obscure events as if they were common knowledge to the average reader. Finally, the book doesn't cover its subject in historical order, which in the author's defense was probably not his intention, since he couldn't do so and cover the subject the way he covered it. Bottom line. this is more of a book for readers with more than a casual knowledge of Spanish history looking for greater detail to fill in gaps and answer questions they may have on the subject.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Alison
  • United States
  • 03-11-16

Not really history at all!

What disappointed you about Spain?

This book NEVER took any shape -- and I listened to the entire work on a long drive. It starts with an hour and a half of the driest academic biography that even the author's mother would not read. Then it rambles on, about various topics, in no clear order. Not a single story or anecdote of any character ever appears. The author clearly KNEW such tales, but he talks in such an unfocused way, you don't even know the era or region under discussion. Only when he got to Franco did any narrative emerge and even that was minimal.



What about Kevin Pierce’s performance did you like?

Unlike a number of reviewers, I think the narrator was outstanding. He read complex academic writing in a patient but not monotone voice. Perhaps his Spanish pronunciation could have been better, but there was so very little in Spanish, that didn't matter.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The author does have original thoughts and surely was a great professor. The author should have worked with an editor, or even family members, to make this engaging. This work smothered any insight into what should have been fascinating.

Any additional comments?

I wanted to like this. I wish I had heeded the many warning reviews.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An Academic Commentary on Spanish History

Any additional comments?

This is a good book, for a certain audience. The author is clearly an excellent historian and does a beautiful job laying out a broad history of the country of Spain. However I would term this book more of a commentary on history than an overview or introduction. I am a lover of history with a reasonable general background on most subjects, but I found myself often lost while listening to this book. He does not really lay out the subject in any comprehensive, chronological, or explanatory way, but essentially provides a commentary on Spanish history. If you know little about Spain, this is not a good place to start at all. It would be interesting for a person who already has a strong basic background in Spanish history. Also, if you are picky about proper pronunciation of Spanish names, then you will be disappointed. Furthermore, the first chapter of the book is really more of an autobiography of the author's professional career. It certainly seems his due after a long and distinguished career, but I doubt many will find it very interesting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Waste of money

This is an astonishingly bad book. It rambles over time in no special order, with long discussions on historiography but without giving more than a sketch of what actually happened. I love history, but I couldn't finish this one.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

More of an author's autobiography

What would have made Spain better?

I was looking for a book on the history of Spain. After plodding through 2 hours of the author's background on how he researched this book, who he met and a list of other books written on Spain, I gave up and decided to get one of the other books. Maybe I gave up too soon, but after the first two hours, I couldn't stand it any longer!

Would you ever listen to anything by Stanley G. Payne again?

No.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Very disappointed.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The narrator slaughters the spanish language

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator ineptitude towards Spanish pronunciation.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Spain?

Unique book. Horrendous narration.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kevin Pierce?

Anyone. Even my 9 year old son.

Did Spain inspire you to do anything?

Probably teach the narrator Spanish pronunciation.

Any additional comments?

No

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Rambling. Uninformative. Terrible writing.

The author tries to convey his obsession with Spain, but only shows his obsession with himself. Codified narcissism. Have listened to two hundred+ books and this was the worst. I didn't finish the other two terrible books on my list, but this was so bad I listened to all of it out of morbid curiosity to see if it would have redeeming value at all. It had some interesting points, but definitely not worth reading. The author spends the first 102 minutes! talking about himself and how he came to write the book: uninteresting self-aggrandizement. Then he, finally, launches into his analysis of the history of Spain. However, its just a rambling patchwork of apparently poorly researched conclusions. Wish I could see the footnotes. He seems obsessed with unnecessarily impressing the listener with his vocabulary, but many of the technical terms are subject to different interpretations, so the resulting book is confusing on almost every page. Wasted credit.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't waste your money

This is a dissertation on the politics of 18 - 20th century Spain. Nothing about Moors, Inquiisition, prehistoric or Roman Spain. If I could have, I would have given it minus stars. I want a REFUND

Sort by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 01-05-13

Not a History of Spain

I feel like I've been conned by the blurb regarding this book which promised "a balanced, broadly chronological survey of Spanish history from the Visigoths to the present." In fact this is a highly academic work that begins with a self-indulgent, two hour lecture on the author and the development of hispanist history more generally. The author then proceeds to spend more time deconstructing the historiography of Spain than it does telling you anything interesting about what went on in the county's past. It is assumed the reader is already very familiar with the history of Spain and is keen to find out how and why that history came to be told in the way that it is. If you do not meet both of these criteria this may not be the book for you.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tim Gutteridge
  • 03-03-13

Superficial and tendentious

An idiosyncratic and ultimately disappointing overview of Spain's history by one of the leading modern historians of the country, Payne's analysis is rather superficial; too often, he is satisfied with debunking an 'accepted' version of events, without exploring the questions that an alternative version raises.



For example, Payne dedicates a lot of time to dismissing the motion that the Republican side during the Civil War stood for liberal democracy, but here he is really arguing with pro-Republican political propaganda circa 1937, not with current historiography. And rather than simply railing against the Republic's lack of democratic credentials, he might usefully have explored the question as to why a large part of Spanish liberalism had decided to adopt an authoritarian approach, why a large portion of the Spanish Socialist Party was committed to revolutionary rather than gradualist change and why, uniquely in world history, Spain produced mass radical anarchist movements in both rural and urban settings.



To take another example, Payne is highly critical of the PSOE's controversial decision to politicise the issue of the recent past at the start of the 21st century, but his explanation is far from enlightening. It is, he argues, simply the expression of the dominance of the 'ideology' of political correctness. A more convincing explanation would need to set the decision in the context of the PSOE's economic policies of the time, and the need for the party to establish a clear distinction between itself and its opponents on the right.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stevie
  • 07-04-18

Politically Incorrect and Brilliant!

I've read and listened to a number of books on the history of Spain and also the Spanish Civil War, but until this book I always felt there are things I was not being told. Also, other authors seemed incapable of writing anything about the Francoistas without often betraying bias through emotive language. Other authors seemed not to be able to give a satisfactory account of the Francoistas and their motives. Other authors I have read or listened to are clearly taking part in some sort of myth creation rather than giving an objective overview.

However, in the chapters covering the Spanish civil War and its aftermath, Stanley Payne not only gives a clear picture of Franco and other key players on the Francoist side, but also provides great clarity as to their motives, and also gives a really interesting account of how sections of the modern left are trying to rewrite history using unverifiable means, stories, and unethical unscholarly behaviour in order to create a myth.

I had an 'aha' moment listening to this book. I had always felt unsatisfied with other accounts of the Spanish Civil War, but Stanley Payne not only provided the information I felt sure was missing but also the reasons why it has been missing.

Other reviewers elsewhere have given few stars (if any) stars and have complained that much of the book is given over to an account of Stanley Payne's academic development and journey. My advice is to persist. This first part does not last long and is just a long introduction. It occurred to me that the purpose of the long introduction was for Stanley Payne to make clear his very extensive credentials and experience (perhaps unrivaled?) as a professional historian specialising in Spanish and Portuguese history, something which perhaps he felt necessary bearing in mind that the myth making regarding the history of the Spanish Civil War which seems to have reached disturbing proportions.

Thank you Stanley Payne. I have ordered his book which focuses on the Spanish Civil War. Its a shame its not in Audio format.