The Battle for Spain

The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
Narrated by: Sean Barrett
Length: 18 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (317 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A fresh and acclaimed account of the Spanish Civil War by the best-selling author of Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War's outbreak, Antony Beevor has written a completely updated and revised account of one of the most bitter and hard-fought wars of the 20th century. With new material gleaned from Russian archives and numerous other sources, this brisk and accessible audiobook (Spain's number-one best seller for 12 weeks) provides a balanced and penetrating perspective, explaining the tensions that led to this terrible overture to World War II and affording new insights into the war - its causes, course, and consequences.

©2006 Ocito Ltd (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited

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

Engrossing Tale of the Rise of Fascism in Europe

If you could sum up The Battle for Spain in three words, what would they be?

A lesson unlearned.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The most important conflict you've never heard of.

Any additional comments?

The Story:

The story of the Spanish Civil War is a cautionary tale about the price of government isolationism and stagnation in a world of social change. Old regimes lost their international sway as new social and political divisions began to reshape the 20th century world and as war-weary isolationism made strong international policy impossible in the western democracies. Ideas flowed freely across borders, eventually followed by money, soldiers and materiel. The West's commitment to non-intervention ensured both the radicalization of the Second Spanish Republic under influence of the Soviet Union, and their eventual defeat by Franco's Nationalist forces. This was the original proxy war of the 20th century, and it had long reaching repercussions for Europe and North America as the century continued into World War Two and the Cold War.

The Text:

Antony Beevor weaves social, political, military and personal history together to create a wide-angle tapestry of the events of the Spanish Civil War. This comprehensive approach allows him to keep the narrative interesting without sacrificing content or context. The stories he tells are relatable, and you don't need a history degree to enjoy or understand this book. Beevor is also even-handed with his depiction of the warring factions. He takes time to show the failings of the Republicans and the human side of the Nationalists.

The Performance:

As others have pointed out, Sean Barrett's narration is a bit monotone. But to be honest, I didn't notice until I saw a review saying so. In a way, the performance fits. Barrett's measured, reserved tone matches Beevor's attempt to remain emotionally distant from the subject matter, allowing him to explore the history in an unbiased way. I never had a problem understanding what Barrett was saying, but I did catch a flubbed line that made it past the editor. Otherwise, his enunciation and intonation were perfectly fine.

Bottom Line:

If you love the history of the World Wars, the Cold War or the rise international socialism this book is a must have. It is accessible, well researched and well written. You wont be dissapointed.

Additional Reading:

If you want something with a more personal touch, try George Orwell's autobiographical Homage to Catalonia. If you want more American centric stories, try Adam Hochscild's Spain in Our Hearts. Both are on audible and are great compliments to Beevor's overview of the subject.

10 people found this helpful

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Great overview of this important conflict

There are lots of implications for today's American incivility. There are hotheads on both political sides who ought to read this book and realize how their uncompromising stances can lead to a horrible situation.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

A clear description of a complicated war. Although the author tries to be fair, and for the most part is, one can’t help but detect an anti-nationalist (anti-Franco, anti-Catholic) bias. This, however, may be more my personal feelings about the war seen through my anti communist lens.
The reader is excellent.

5 people found this helpful

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Great book about a history little known.

Antony Beevor always writes a fast moving, focused and informative book. This sad story is very engrossing and easy to read and connect from beginning roots in 1492 until the war starts in 1936 and concludes in 1939. The review of actions, what did and missed opportunities is excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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confusing

I love history. but this book is written with little to no explanation of terms and acronyms that are frequently used. Additionally, the narrators pace is very quick. It's a very interesting story, I just wish it was written and preformed with more clarity.

3 people found this helpful

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Antony Beevor inspirational Historic tell

The Battle for Spain gives great details into the causes and effects of the civil war without taking on a preferred side.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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terrible performance

not even sure if the book is any good...I gave up due to the performance. it is read far too quickly and without a single inflection.

6 people found this helpful

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Narrator is Terrible

How one could use an Interesting and historically important topic to put me to sleep? Use the same narrator. Monotone, severely boring. The only person struggling more is the narrator himself. He sounds as he is backlogged to last week. I will get the paperback so I can read myself. To thumbs down for performance.

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An incredibly Lucid and informational history book

I learned a lot about the Spanish civil War. so much information, but the narrator does a good job of packaging it all together.

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Interesting book marred by poor reading

Imagine trying to listen to a history about Spain, where you are introduced to character after character, event after event, in rapid fire fashion by a a reader who doesn't seem to need to breathe? No pauses, no delay between sentences, just a waterfall of information by the water boarder of book readers.

Sad. Couldn't get too far in to it before moving on to something else.