Spain in Our Hearts

Adam Hochschild

4.22 based on 2221 ratings & 316 reviews on
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07 April 2016
464 pages

From the moment it began in 1936, the Spanish Civil War became the political question of the age. Hitler and Mussolini quickly sent aircraft, troops and supplies to the right-wing generals bent on overthrowing Spain's elected government. Millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; if not there, where? More than 35,000 volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic.

Adam Hochschild, the acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, evokes this tumultuous period mainly through the lives of Americans involved in the war. A few are famous, such as Ernest Hemingway, but others are less familiar. They include a nineteen-year-old Kentucky woman, a fiery leftist who came to wartime Spain on her honeymoon; a young man who ran away from his Pennsylvania college and became the first American casualty in the battle for Madrid; and a swashbuckling Texas oilman who covertly violated US law and sold Generalissimo Francisco Franco most of the fuel for his army. Two New York Times reporters, fierce rivals, covered the war from opposite sides, with opposite sympathies. There are Britons in Hochschild's cast of characters as well: one, a London sculptor, fought with the American battalion; another, who had just gone down from Cambridge, joined Franco's army and found himself fighting against the Americans; and a third is someone whose experience of combat in Spain had a profound effect on his life, George Orwell.

Beautifully written with a hawk-eye for the telling anecdote, Spain in Our Hearts constitutes an endlessly fascinating and utterly unputdownable survey of the war to defend democracy in Spain that was not only the first act of the Second World War but also, for many across the world, the last great cause.

Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge

Spain in Our Hearts is narrative non-fiction at its very best. Hochschild's achievement is to make this trial-by-combat story come alive, as if it were happening now. It is impossible for a reader not to identify and feel compassion for those sons and daughters of America who risked and often gave their lives for a cause that could not ultimately prevail against the darker forces of Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin - and Texaco. A seamlessly-woven, unputdownable tapestry of war in Europe; intensely, unforgettably moving.

Nigel Hamilton, author of The Mantle of Command

Adam Hochschild weaves a brilliant tapestry of colorful characters into a story that includes the young Ernest Hemmingway, the charismatic Robert Merriman, the scotch-drinking Milly Bennett, the glamorous reporter Virginia Cowles, and dozens of other Americans whose lives were dramatically altered by the Spanish Civil War. Hochschild's poignant narrative evokes E.L. Doctorow's great historical novel Ragtime-but Spain in Our Hearts is no novel but a tragic true story about a critical tipping point in the 20th century's slide into total warfare. Passionate, evocative, and gracefully written

Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Good Spy