The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in Twentieth-Century Spain

By Paul Preston | Go to book overview

Preface

The historiography of modern Spain is overwhelmingly, and perhaps inevitably, obsessed with the examination of the causes, course and consequences of the Civil War. The fratricide of the 1930s has given rise to a bibliography which is astonishingly large, disproportionately so when compared with that on the Second World War. Leaving aside the enormous body of propaganda, polemic and personal memoirs, one curious feature of the abundance of writing on twentieth-century Spain is the sheer weight of scholarship about the left. At one level, that is understandable. The revolutionary exploits of Spanish anarchists make passionately interesting reading. The bitter rivalries between Spanish socialists and anarchists are hardly less engrossing. The internecine conflicts between anarchists, socialists and communists lie at the heart of the reasons for the defeat of the Spanish Republic, and with it, the collapse of the great collectivist experiments of the Civil War.

On the other hand, the fascination of the left rather obscures the fact that the Spanish Republic was a short-lived interval, almost an aberration, in a modern history dominated by the right. Accordingly, the immediate justification for this book is the relative lack of serious consideration of the Spanish right in English, or indeed in any other language. Most of those who have written about, or have been sympathetic to, the left have little or nothing to say about the right. A majority of those who have written about the right have tended to be propagandists of its cause, taking for granted that ultimately the justification for the Civil War could be found in left-wing disorder. There are, of course, outstanding and honourable exceptions. 1 Nevertheless, by comparison

1 Although I do not always agree with their conclusions, the prolific works on various aspects of Francoism, the army and the right in general by Javier Tusell in Spain and Stanley G. Payne in the United States are indispensable. My own debts to them will be apparent from the footnotes of the present book. The writing of Martin Blinkhorn on Carlism is seminal and, in demonstrating how the ideological well-springs of the Spanish right are to be found in traditionalism, has resonances far beyond its immediate subject The trail-blazing contributions of Herbert R. Southworth to the study of Falangism in particular and of the wider aspects of Francoist manipulations of its own historical record remain crucial. A short guide to further reading also highlights some important monographic contributions by young Spanish scholars.

-xiii-

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