Admirers of Giles Tremlett’s exciting dash through Spanish history—and there are likely to be many—may still be skeptical about España’s conclusion. This is that Spain’s “fractured soul” is the result of a profound disagreement about its past. That, he says, is the reflection of strong and enduring regional identities and cultures. To illustrate his case, he points out that when Spain played the Netherlands in the final of the 2010 soccer World Cup, the Spanish players, unlike their full-throated opponents, merely hummed when the country’s national anthem was played. They did so because it has proved impossible to reach agreement on words to accompany the nation’s anthem. For although Spain has existed in its present geographical form longer than most countries of the world, there is no national narrative on...


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