The best books on the Spanish Civil War through oral history and narrative

Who am I?

Joan Fallon is a Scottish novelist who has lived in the province of Málaga, in southern Spain, for almost thirty years. She has a great passion for all aspects of Spanish history and culture. While writing a book about the lives of Spanish women after the Civil War, she learned about the unbelievable massacre of thousands of innocent people as they left their homes and fled to Almería in 1937. Women, children and old men were gunned down by cruising gunboats. A historian, teacher and now an author, Joan wanted to know why nobody ever spoke about this tragedy.


I wrote...

Spanish Lavender

By Joan Fallon,

Book cover of Spanish Lavender

What is my book about?

Spanish Lavender is a love story set in the Spanish Civil War. In January 1937, Elizabeth, a young English girl decides to remain in Spain when the rest of her family returns to the peace of England. Alone in the devastated city of Málaga, she makes friends with two young men, Juan, an idealistic Spaniard, and Alex, a pragmatic Englishman. Together they make their escape from the war-torn city along the coast to Almería. Amongst the death and carnage, she falls in love with Juan, only to lose him shortly afterward when he is badly wounded. Believing he is dead she returns to England.

The books I picked & why

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Spanish Testament

By Arthur Koestler,

Book cover of Spanish Testament

Why this book?

This book was written in 1937 by a British journalist who was visiting Spain. This was the year that Málaga fell to the Nationalist forces. It is the year that I write about in Spanish Lavender, a love story set in the Spanish Civil War in Málaga. Arthur Koestler arrived in that city when thousands of people were fleeing from the advancing army. His book gives an eye witness account of what it was like there, the military situation, the devastation and the evacuation. He saw it all and wrote about it. Later he was arrested and imprisoned in a Nationalist gaol in Seville and described his experiences. For me it was the most useful book I could have found.


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

By Ronald Fraser,

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

Why this book?

This is an oral history of the Spanish Civil War. It is a collection of interviews, essays and commentaries from people who lived through the war. Again, it showed what people were feeling and thinking at the time.


For Whom the Bell Tolls

By Ernest Hemingway,

Book cover of For Whom the Bell Tolls

Why this book?

It is a beautifully written novel and is based on Hemingway’s own experiences in Spain during the war. I read this many years ago and it was what first sparked my interest in the Spanish Civil War.


Malaga Burning: An American Woman's Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War

By Gamel Woolsey,

Book cover of Malaga Burning: An American Woman's Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War

Why this book?

Gamel Woolsey was the wife of Gerald Brenan, who has written many books about Spain. They were living in Málaga when the Civil War broke out. This is a book of her experiences and the people she met then.


Between Two Fires-Guerrilla War In The Spanish Sierras

By David Baird,

Book cover of Between Two Fires-Guerrilla War In The Spanish Sierras

Why this book?

This book takes a different look at the Spanish Civil War. It looks at the history of the guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, where poorly armed men waged a drawn out battle against the Nationalist troops for years. It is also in the province of Málaga.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Spanish Civil War, Spain, and guerrilla warfare?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Spanish Civil War, Spain, and guerrilla warfare.

The Spanish Civil War Explore 42 books about the Spanish Civil War
Spain Explore 135 books about Spain
Guerrilla Warfare Explore 11 books about guerrilla warfare

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Homage to Catalonia, The Spanish Civil War, and Hotel Florida if you like this list.