Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War

Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War

Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War

Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War

Synopsis

'Deadly Embrace is not only a well-written and thoroughly documented book but also a necessary and vital contribution to the study of the turbulent and often violent first four decades of twentieth century Spain.' -Francisco J. Romero Salvadó, Reviews in History'Sebastian Balfour's Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War is a solid piece of research following on from his last book, The End of Spanish Empire, 1898-1923 (1997)... Balfour renders fresh much familiar material, with original interpretations of figures obscured by their reputations... he offers an important interpretative revision of the bulk of the campaigns of 1924-27 against Abdel Krim and his 'Republic of the Rif', underlining the calculated use of poisonous gases... his argument is innovative and very convincing.' -Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, Times Literary SupplementDrawing on documents buried in archives for decades and interviews with war veterans, some over 100 years old, Sebastian Balfour demolishes traditional interpretations of the Spanish colonial and civil wars. Throwing fresh light on military cultures, racism, and the experience of the soldier in war, from the early twentieth century to the 1930s, he reveals the extraordinary brutality of the colonial war in Morocco and the export of that brutality to Spain in the Civil War. Above all the author exposes for the first time the story of the chemical warfare waged by Spain against Moroccans resisting the invasions of their lands.

Excerpt

The central epic of twentieth-century Spain was the colonial war in Morocco and the Civil War. Spain undertook a colonial mission in northern Morocco at the beginning of the century that appeared to offer some compensation for the loss of its overseas colonies in 1898 and promised to raise it to the status of other European powers. But it was sucked into a colonial war from 1909 that led to a succession of military disasters resulting in dictatorship and the fall of the monarchy in 1931. The experience of that war politicized many of the Spanish conscripts who were mobilized to fight for a cause they barely understood. It also created a brutalized and interventionist officer elite, which rose in revolt against the Republic in 1936. Without the intervention of the colonial army backed by the military force of Hitler and Mussolini, the coup would have failed. The so-called Army of Africa crossed the Straits of Gibraltar with a mission to destroy the internal enemy and transform a decadent Spain from outside. The self-appointed agents of Spain's purification were those officers who had fought and won a colonial war, and that war inspired their initial strategy and tactics in the Civil War. The regime installed by Franco also derived its mythological and ideological underpinning from the colonial experience.

Despite the huge literature both wars have attracted, no serious study has been made of the links between them. The war in Morocco itself has generated dozens of volumes, from the panegyrical, self-exculpatory accounts of right-wing military protagonists to the anti-war, autobiographical novels of middle-class conscripts who fought there against their will. Yet all of them give at best only glimpses of the war and at worst a complete distortion of the nature of the encounter between Spaniards and Moroccans. The Civil War, for its part, has given rise to more volumes than any other event or historical process in Spain's history. Yet the influence that the colonial war had on its genesis and development has received attention only in the broad narratives of twentiethcentury Spanish history. This fracture between the literature of the two wars is no doubt due partly to traditional demarcations of theme and chronology. The colonial war ended in 1927 and the Civil War began in 1936 after five eventful years of the Republic that have absorbed the interest of historians.

This book, therefore, is the first overarching study of the colonial war and the Army of Africa in the Civil War. It attempts to fill the many gaps in the existing bibliography and to challenge some of its hypotheses, in particular with reference to the colonial war. The vast number of texts on the issue deal only with specific conjunctures and the conclusions they draw are very limited. Apart from the links between the colonial war, the Civil War, and the . . .

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