• The Battle for Spain

  • The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
  • By: Antony Beevor
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 18 hrs and 48 mins
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (379 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

What listeners say about The Battle for Spain

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  • Overall
    5 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.

17 people found this helpful

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Not an accurate history book

It is probably very hard for a non-Spanish speaker to get good and accurate history for this event. Basically, communists in England, France, and the USA filtered the events in Spain to make the Spanish Civil War look like a military coup that toppled a "republic"....When it was really citizens preventing a Bolshevik revolution of Utopian murderers..

You even had the the Pre-Animal Farm George Orwell in Barcelona fighting for Stalin and Communism! Later George Orwell became informed on how murderous and evil his friends were and wrote Animal Farm. But, in this book, Orwell and other "international brigade" communists went to Spain to kill people. Basically like ISIS fighters from Germany that went to Syria to slaughter civilians in the 2010's, That's George Orwell and those are the people that have written the books that Beevor uses as sources for this book.

The real Spanish story is that extreme left wing parties in Spain attempted a Bolshevik revolution in Spain. The election that Beevor said they won was basically a slaughter of opponents and the physical intimidation of voters that included robbery, rape, and murder. Beevor does bring up that Barcelona professionals had to start dressing like bums to avoid violence. But he does not capture the essential issue that there was not a Spanish "Republic" in the peaceful and legitimate sense of the word "Republic". Leading up to the conflict, mayors, priests, deacons, landowners, and business people were being murdered by extreme left wing partisans - that prompted the military to act in defense of the Spanish people. Even Hemingway's book describes people being thrown from cliffs, for simply being family members of land owners. By the way, what is wrong with owning land?

Spain was basically were the anti-Communist block successfully prevented what the Russians did not in 1917. There was an aggregate of liberty and religiously oriented Spaniards that did not want Communism (aka Super Fascism) implemented in Spain. In the 1920's ,Spain before the civil war, was an ok economy with rich civil life. That's why you had all the artists and culture there and still do. Spain prevented their nation from becoming Animal Farm.

20 people found this helpful

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I keep looking for a book on the Spanish...

Civil War That is without a pro Republican slant. Anthony Beevor attempts to be neutral, but, alas, he is not successful. I don’t know if this results from bad luck or bad management, but as the son of a Spanish Civil War refugee whose family was murdered by the communists, I would very much like to read/listen to an account that expresses a view not so partisan. Very refreshing was the author taking Hemingway and the intelligentsia – some what - to task. Nonetheless, The Republican side is “personalized“… The author talks about the courage or the individual sacrifices or the incidence of bravery when cataloging successes and even the Republican failures (Fortunately he steers away from excusing their excesses). But at the same time, the nationalist are referred to in sterile, historical fashion and at the same time, the writing never escapes the condemnation of “fascism”. Franco fairs little better. Despite the fact that a very possible argument can be made that he saved Spain. He saved Spain from itself, from the monstrosities of communism and he saved Spain from World War II and Hitler. Punch line? Worthwhile, but prone to “accepted” (politically correct) revelations.

2 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.

7 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.

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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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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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The Spanish Civil War

Excellent presentation and well-narrated production. Author arranged material in a well-organized and easy to follow format. He attempts to show himself as an objective observer of the events and details surrounding the conflict, yet can’t avoid projecting his own obvious biases into the story. Overall a very fascinating read, and well-formatted production.