‘Spain in Our Hearts’ by Adam Hochschild

25897691Rich Benjamin at The Guardian:

Spain in Our Hearts offers little in the way of new information, except for a fascinating account of Texaco’s crucial role in bankrolling Franco. Hochschild’s contribution lies in the storytelling, his sure command of military history, and his beautiful sense of private hurt, which together yield original insight. An astute observer of contrasts, he navigates the hairpin turns between intimacy and barbarism, euphoria and despair, naivety and cynicism. The book effortlessly hopscotches from global history to individual – and emotional – experience.

“The whole experience of being hit by a bullet is very interesting and I think it is worth describing in detail,” wrote republican volunteer George Orwell. “There must have been two minutes during which I assumed that I was killed. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world, which, when all is said and done, suits me so well. The stupid mischance infuriated me. The meaningless of it! To be bumped off, not even in battle, but in this stale corner of the trenches, thanks to a moment’s carelessness.” Manning a frontline trench, Orwell had absent-mindedly poked his head above a parapet, and taken a sniper’s bullet. It missed his carotid artery by a few millimetres. Witnessing the imprisonment, torture and killings ordered by Stalin’s Spanish henchmen against his fellow leftists, disillusioned him, though he continued fighting loyally. “Whichever way you took it,” he wrote, “it was a depressing outlook. But it did not follow that the government was not worth fighting for as against the more naked and developed fascism of Franco and Hitler.”

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