The Spanish Civil War is one of those events that I have always felt I should know more about. Thanks to Stanley Payne
's concise, lucid new work on the subject
, I feel less that way. I do not exaggerate when I say that Payne, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, is the nation's foremost expert on Spanish history and on historical fascism in general. That expertise shines in this book and really comes to the fore in this interview. Published by Cambridge University Press as part of its Essential Histories series, Payne's work synthesizes a lifetime of study in Spain, laying out the origins of the civil war in Spain's deeply fractured political culture, and tracing the international and military developments that led to Francisco Franco's eventual triumph in 1939. As Payne points out, the Spanish Civil War has been mythologized for political purposes since the day it began, much to the detriment of our understanding of the real story. The details of how and why the war began, how it was fought, and what was at stake have too-often been lost in a public effort to assign blame or capture the war's legacy for political purposes. Payne revels in debunking some of these myths while carefully balancing conflicting arguments and accounts. Enjoy.