Franco (Magill Book Reviews)
Francisco Franco was once a pariah in the Western world. A brutal dictator, he came to power through war, leading the Nationalist insurgents who wiped out Spain’s brief experiment with republican government during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Cruel and remorseless towards his enemies, Franco established a rigidly authoritarian regime in Spain, replete with fascist trappings modeled on the example of his wartime allies Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Yet during World War II, Franco stayed neutral, thereby rendering an indirect, but invaluable, service to the Western democracies. In the postwar years Franco’s Spain, fiercely anticommunist, came to be seen as a pillar of defense. In the 1950’s, the United States negotiated a bargain with the dictator that allowed the basing of American bombers on Spanish soil. In his last years Franco presided over a rebirth of prosperity in Spain, and its economic reintegration with Western Europe. By the time he died, there were those who argued that Franco, for all his faults, had proved a largely beneficent actor on the world stage.
Paul Preston in FRANCO: A BIOGRAPHY takes issues with this revisionist view of the dictator. Writing with an authority born of years of studying modern Spain and exhaustive research on his subject, Preston maintains that Franco was a cunning opportunist who subordinated the needs of his people to his own lust for power. Preston makes an impressive case that Franco’s...
(The entire section is 382 words.)
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Franco (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Few historical episodes stir as much passion as the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. The war represented the breakdown of an intensely polarized society. Rightists based in the army launched a rebellion against the left-wing government of the Spanish Republic. The ensuing struggle, brutally waged by both sides, devastated Spain and cost the lives of more than 600,000 people. The Spanish Civil War would be notable as yet another moral disaster of the Iberian Peninsula, but it did not remain an internecine brawl. It was quickly internationalized, and absorbed into the wider political currents of the 1930’s. The fascist powers of Germany and Italy championed the authoritarian crusade of the Nationalist insurgents, while the Soviet Union came to the defense of the beleaguered Republic. The Spanish agony became a tragedy into which outsiders read foreign meanings. The war was used as a martial laboratory for the great powers, and German and Soviet “advisers” experimented on the dusty plains of Castile with the weapons and tactics that would be unleashed to greater effect during World War II. The Spanish conflict early on came to be regarded as the opening phase of the general war all too many people anticipated in the tumultuous 1930’s. Hence thousands of idealists traveled to Spain to fight on the side of the Republic, and against the Nationalists aligned with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Others, more frightened by Joseph Stalin’s Russia than Hitler’s...
(The entire section is 2204 words.)