There have been any number of good books on the Spanish Civil War, but the depictions which continue to affect us are the contemporary accounts: Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, Picasso’s Guernica, André Malraux’s Man’s Hope, the poetry of Federico García Lorca, Arthur Koestler’s blistering account in The God That Failed, the idealistic poetry of John Cornford, the groundbreaking photojournalism of the young Robert Capa. This was a cosmopolitan crowd for such a local conflagration, but it almost immediately became clear that this civil war was a dress rehearsal for the World War that was brewing, with Russia and Germany fighting by proxy, trying out their devastating new arsenals on the unfortunate Spanish.

To earnest anti-fascists, the lines seemed clearly drawn, and thousands of volunteers...


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