By Hank Rubin
On a fine April day in 1937, a fellow UCLA student casually approached Hank Rubin about fighting for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Impulsively - astonishing both himself and the International Brigades recruiter - Rubin promised to forsake his studies, go to Spain, and join the antifascist volunteers. In a narrative voice that inspires both trust and affection, Rubin tells of being alternately delighted and sardonically amused by the cloak-and-dagger routines during the clandestine train ride from Los Angeles to New York. He re-creates the tension of being a member of a secret army in New York, of life as a third-class passenger aboard an ocean liner, and as a soldier at loose ends in Paris. He takes the reader on the perilous night journey over the mountains from France into Spain, describes training routines, and details the conditions of war. And through it all, he sets his compelling personal story against the larger backdrop of history: the Great Depression in the United States, the Spanish Army, the Vatican, the Catholic clergy and Germany and Italy supporting Franco's fascists, the Nonintervention Pact upheld by Britain and France, and Roosevelt's arms embargo against Spain. Rubin's memoir about life in the medical branch of the International Brigades, in fact, is not a book about abstract concepts; it is the story of an idealistic young man who for various and complex reasons decided to risk all to extinguish an inhumane form of government - fascism.
- Carbondale, IL