After twelve years in Spain, Jason Webster had developed a deep love for his adopted homeland; his life there seemed complete.
But when he and his Spanish wife moved into an idyllic old farmhouse in the mountains north of Valencia, by chance he found an unmarked mass grave from the Spanish Civil War on his doorstep.
Spurred to investigate the history of the Civil War, a topic many of his Spanish friends still seemed to treat as taboo, he began to uncover a darker side to the country.
Witness to a brutal fist-fight sponsored by remnants of Franco's Falangists, arrested and threatened by the police in the former HQ of the Spanish Foreign Legion, sheltered by a beautiful transvestite, shunned by locals, haunted by ghosts and finally robbed of his identity, Webster encountered a legacy of cruelty and violence that seems to linger on seventy years after the bloody events of that war.
As in Webster's previous books, "Duende" and "Andalus", !"Guerra"! reveals the essence of modern Spain, which few outsiders ever manage to see.
Fascinating true stories from the Civil War, vividly retold as he travels around the country. Yet the more Webster unveils of the passions that set one countryman against another, the more he is led to wonder: could the dark, primitive currents that ripped the country apart in the 1930s still be stirring under the sophisticated, worldly surface of today's Spain?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages, map
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 02/07/2007
- Category: Spanish Civil War
- ISBN: 9780552772815
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Review by sanddancer
Jason Webster is an Englisman living in Spain. However, his romantic notions of the country are threatened when he is shown a mass grave of Republican supporters from the Spanish Civil War. The book is his journey finding out more about the war and about attitudes towards it in present day Spain. Chapters tend to alternate between Webster's own experiences travelling around Spain and a chronlogical explanation of the war. His own experiences are interesting, as he discovers some surprising attitudes towards the past, although sometimes I did wonder the things that happened to him were a bit contrived, and one particular section about him being robbed, does really have any relation to the war at all. The history parts were great, for example it explained the different factions clearly, without being dull and the whole text was littered with interesting pieces of information. This was an ideal introduction to the subject particularly since my edition had a handy map, timeline and guide to the key figures.