After reading “Summer Snow,” by Rebecca Pawel, the fourth and latest in a series of novels set in the years after the Spanish Civil War, I realized that I had never read a history of that war. I had read plenty about the supposed causes of it, I had read memoirs and biographies of lives that been effected by it, but never a history of the war itself. So, I stopped by a local used book store and picked up a paperback version of the 1962 book “The Civil War in Spain” edited by the remarkable polymath Robert Payne.
The book is contructed from police reports, diaries and other accounts by common citizens, military men, writers and journalists who were either Spanish or resident in Spain during the civil war, like Payne himself, who covered the war for a newspaper called the London News Chronicle. Payne provides the connective tissue that brings the disparate accounts together into an extremely lively and moving history of that conflict. Reading it is like reading a dossier. The book can’t be experienced with a sense of history being safely past. It is in the first person and the present time.
I would recommend it for anyone who is a student of that time, interested in Spain or in the phenomenom of civil war.