The Best Books On Anarchism And Revolution In The Spanish Civil War

Martha A. Ackelsberg Author Of Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
By Martha A. Ackelsberg

The Books I Picked & Why

The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War

By Gerald Brenan

The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War

Why this book?

This book was originally published almost immediately after the Civil War and provides an extraordinarily rich—and yet very readable---account of the many conflicting forces that led up to the war. It is an indispensable introduction to that history.


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Homage to Catalonia

By George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia

Why this book?

This is an evocative, first-hand account of Orwell’s time in Spain in the early months of the Spanish Civil War, that makes clear the conflict between the revolutionary spirit of the anarchists and Trotskyists and the more conservative, counter-revolutionary activities of the Communist Party and Republican government institutions. Although the US, Britain, and France declined to get directly involved in supporting the government because they identified it with revolutionary communism, that strategy of “non-intervention” actually strengthened the role of the Communists in Spain, whose main effort was to suppress revolutionary activity.


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Blood of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War

By Ronald Fraser

Blood of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War

Why this book?

Based on interviews Fraser conducted with both activists and everyday citizens (over 300 people, in total) who survived the Civil War, this book provides a powerful picture of the struggles, successes and defeats experienced by those who lived through it. It provides an extraordinary view of the complexity of the war and of the organizations that became involved in it.


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Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War

By Mary Nash

Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War

Why this book?

Mary Nash is the “dean” of women’s history in Spain, who has done excellent work on the history of working-class Spanish women, birth control, anarchism, and much more. This book, her only major work published in English, places the roles of women—and the revolutionary activities of Mujeres Libres—into its broader historical context. Importantly, she looks not only at the activities of left-wing and revolutionary women, but at how the fascist counter-revolution affected women and families in the years that followed the war.


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Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship

By Noam Chomsky

Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship

Why this book?

This is a now-classic essay that explores the ways mainstream news media (and subsequent academic studies) downplayed and/or misrepresented the revolutionary nature of the Spanish Civil War. Although the war began as a result of a failed military coup d’etat against a legally-elected republican government, it came to be seen simply as a battle between communists (identified with the government) and supporters of order (who were actually the fascist rebels!). Drawing parallels with the ways U.S. media represented the revolutionary forces in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, Chomsky makes clear just how significant that misrepresentation became—not just at the time, but in the continuing historiography of the Spanish Civil War.


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