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General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly forty years, as one of the most powerful and controversial leaders in that nation's long history. He has been the subject of many biographies, several of them more than a thousand pages in length, but all the preceding works have tended toward one extreme of interpretation or the other. This is the first comprehensive scholar General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly forty years, as one of the most powerful and controversial leaders in that nation's long history. He has been the subject of many biographies, several of them more than a thousand pages in length, but all the preceding works have tended toward one extreme of interpretation or the other. This is the first comprehensive scholarly biography of Franco in English that is objective and balanced in its coverage, treating all three major aspects of his life—personal, military, and political. The coauthors, both renowned historians of Spain, present a deeply researched account that has made extensive use of the Franco Archive (long inaccessible to historians). They have also conducted in-depth interviews with his only daughter to explain better his family background, personal life, and marital environment, as well as his military and political career.             Franco: A Personal and Political Biography depicts his early life, explains his career and rise to prominence as an army officer who became Europe's youngest interwar brigadier general in 1926, and then discusses his role in the affairs of the troubled Second Spanish Republic (1931–36). Stanley G. Payne and Jesús Palacios examine in detail how Franco became dictator and how his leadership led to victory in the Spanish Civil War that consolidated his regime. They also explore Franco's role in the great repression that accompanied the Civil War—resulting in tens of thousands of executions—and examine at length his controversial role in World War II. This masterful biography highlights Franco's metamorphoses and adaptations to retain power as politics, culture, and economics shifted in the four decades of his dictatorship. Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers “An important book, destined to elicit a heated academic debate surrounding the man who ruled Spain for forty years and whose figure still casts a long shadow four decades after his death.”—Journal of Modern History


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General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly forty years, as one of the most powerful and controversial leaders in that nation's long history. He has been the subject of many biographies, several of them more than a thousand pages in length, but all the preceding works have tended toward one extreme of interpretation or the other. This is the first comprehensive scholar General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly forty years, as one of the most powerful and controversial leaders in that nation's long history. He has been the subject of many biographies, several of them more than a thousand pages in length, but all the preceding works have tended toward one extreme of interpretation or the other. This is the first comprehensive scholarly biography of Franco in English that is objective and balanced in its coverage, treating all three major aspects of his life—personal, military, and political. The coauthors, both renowned historians of Spain, present a deeply researched account that has made extensive use of the Franco Archive (long inaccessible to historians). They have also conducted in-depth interviews with his only daughter to explain better his family background, personal life, and marital environment, as well as his military and political career.             Franco: A Personal and Political Biography depicts his early life, explains his career and rise to prominence as an army officer who became Europe's youngest interwar brigadier general in 1926, and then discusses his role in the affairs of the troubled Second Spanish Republic (1931–36). Stanley G. Payne and Jesús Palacios examine in detail how Franco became dictator and how his leadership led to victory in the Spanish Civil War that consolidated his regime. They also explore Franco's role in the great repression that accompanied the Civil War—resulting in tens of thousands of executions—and examine at length his controversial role in World War II. This masterful biography highlights Franco's metamorphoses and adaptations to retain power as politics, culture, and economics shifted in the four decades of his dictatorship. Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers “An important book, destined to elicit a heated academic debate surrounding the man who ruled Spain for forty years and whose figure still casts a long shadow four decades after his death.”—Journal of Modern History

30 review for Franco: A Personal and Political Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    Few Americans know much about Francisco Franco, leader of the winning side in the Spanish Civil War and subsequently dictator of Spain. Yet from 1936 until 1975, he was a famous world figure. Now he is forgotten—but not by all. Franco is, and has been for decades, a cause célèbre among the global Left, seen as the devil incarnate for his successful war against Communist domination of Spain. To successfully delay, or worse, block, any Left attempt to establish their permanent rule, thereby reveal Few Americans know much about Francisco Franco, leader of the winning side in the Spanish Civil War and subsequently dictator of Spain. Yet from 1936 until 1975, he was a famous world figure. Now he is forgotten—but not by all. Franco is, and has been for decades, a cause célèbre among the global Left, seen as the devil incarnate for his successful war against Communist domination of Spain. To successfully delay, or worse, block, any Left attempt to establish their permanent rule, thereby revealing that history lacks a progressive direction, is the unforgivable sin. Naturally, therefore, my own impression of Franco was generally favorable. But after reading up on him, my impression of him has changed. Now it is positively glowing. It is very difficult to grasp the controversial figures of the past century. By “controversial,” I mean right-wing, since no prominent left-wing figure is ever deemed, in the common imagination formed by the left-wing dominance of academia and media, to be “controversial.” Instead, such people are “bold” or “courageous.” The only way to get at the truth about a right-wing figure is to absorb a great many facts about him. It doesn’t matter much if the facts are slanted, or are disputed, or even if lies are told, as they always are about any right-wing figure. Reading enough detail allows the truth to come into focus, which mostly means ferreting out where the Left is lying or where one’s impression has been formed by propaganda or half-truths. Even though facts matter most, the first thing to do when reading a book about any right-wing figure, or any event or happening important to the Left, is to check the political angle of the author, to know the likely slant. Somewhat surprisingly, most recent popular English-language general histories of the Spanish Civil War are only modestly tilted Left. The best-known is that by Hugh Thomas (recently deceased and a fantastic writer, mostly on Spain’s earlier history), which I’ve read; Antony Beevor, specialist in popularized histories of twentieth-century war, also wrote one, which I have skimmed. Several others exist, and voluminous Spanish-language literature, as well, about which I know essentially nothing other than as cited in English-language texts. Reading biographies of Franco, rather than histories of the Civil War, pulls back the lens to see Spain across the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, not just in the years between 1936 and 1939. Any history revolving around Franco in that period is necessarily both a history of Spain and the history of Left-Right conflict. This is useful because my purpose is not just to understand Franco, although that’s interesting enough, but what Franco and his times say for our times. While my initial intention was just to read one biography, it quickly became clear that more detail would allow more clarity. I deemed this amount of effort important because I think the Spanish experience in the twentieth century has a lot to say to us. Therefore, I selected three biographies. The first was "Franco: A Personal and Political Biography," published in 2014, by Stanley Payne, a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Payne has spent his entire long career writing many books on this era of Spain’s history, and he is also apparently regarded as one of the, if not the, leading experts on the typology of European fascism. Payne’s treatment of Franco is straight up the middle, neither pro nor con, and betrays neither a Left nor Right bias—although, to be sure, a straightforward portrait contradicts the Left narrative, and thus can be seen as effectively tilted Right, whatever the author’s actual intentions. The second was Spanish historian Enrique Moradiellos’s 2018 "Franco: Anatomy of a Dictator," a shorter treatment generally somewhat negative with respect to Franco. The third, "Franco: A Biography," is by Paul Preston, a professor at the London School of Economics, who like Payne is an expert in twentieth-century Spain. Unlike Payne, or Moradiello, he is an avowed political partisan, of the Left, and his 1993 biography of Franco is vituperative, but it was also the first major English-language study of Franco, and is regarded as a landmark achievement offering enormous detail, even if it is superseded in some ways by later scholarship. Preston also published, in 2012, the dubiously named The Spanish Holocaust, analyzing through a hard Left lens the killings of the Civil War, which I have read in part and to which I will also refer. In addition, I have consulted a variety of other books, including Julius Ruiz’s recent work on the Red Terror in Madrid, and repeatedly viewed the five-hour 1983 series "The Spanish Civil War," produced in the United Kingdom and narrated by Frank Finlay, available on YouTube, which while it has a clear left-wing bias, offers interviews with many actual participants in the war. Unlike my usual technique, which is to review individual books and use them as springboards for thought, I am trying something new. I am writing a three-part evaluation of twentieth-century Spain, through a political lens, in which I intend to sequentially, but separately, focus on three different time periods. First, the run-up to the Civil War. Second, the war itself, mainly with respect to its political, not military, aspects, and its immediate aftermath. Third, Franco’s nearly forty years as dictator, and the years directly after. Using multiple books from multiple political angles will highlight areas of contradiction or dispute, and allow tighter focus on them. True, I have not read any actually pro-Franco books—I would, but, as Payne notes, there are no such English-language books, though he mentions several in Spanish. The American (and English) Right has always been very reticent about any endorsement of Franco. Part of this is the result of ignorance combined with the successful decades-long propaganda campaign of the Left. If you’re ill-informed, it’s easy to lump Franco in with Hitler, or if you’re feeling charitable, Mussolini, and who wants to associate himself with them? Part of it is the inculcated taste for being a beautiful loser, on sharp display for some reason among modern English conservatives, not only Peter Hitchens in his book "The Abolition of Britain" but also Roger Scruton on "How To Be A Conservative." But a bigger part, I think, is distaste for the savagery of civil wars, combined with the feeling that Christians should not kill their enemies, except perhaps in open battle in a just war. On the surface, this seeming pacifism appears to be a standard thread of Christian thought. But examined more closely, it is actually a new claim, since the contested dividing line has always been if and under what circumstances killing in self-defense is permitted. Whether the killing occurs in the heat of battle is a mere happenstance, now incorrectly elevated by some on the Right to the core matter, probably as a backdoor way of limiting killing by the state. The effect, though, is to repudiate killing in self-defense outside of battle, even by the authorities, ignoring the admonition of Saint Paul, that the ruler “beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Competently illustrating this weak-kneed and incoherent line of thought among the modern Right, Peter Hitchens wrote a recent piece in "First Things" about Franco. Hitchens was, in fact, also reviewing Moradellios’s book, and his review exquisitely demonstrates this intellectual confusion and theological incoherence. He goes on at great length about the evils of the Republicans and how their victory would have been disastrous for Spain. But then he goes on at greater length telling us that Christians cannot look to Franco, because he committed “crimes,” none of which are specified in the review (or, for that matter, in the book being reviewed), probably because to specify them would make them seem not very crime-like. We must therefore reject Franco, Hitchens tells us, for an unspecified alternative that was most definitely not on offer in 1936, and is probably not going to be on offer if, in the future, we are faced with similar circumstances. This is foolishness. (It is not helped by Hitchens’s self-focus and his repeated attempts to establish his own personal intellectual superiority, sniffing, for example, that Franco watched television and “had no personal library,” though if Hitchens had read Payne, he would know that was because the Republicans destroyed it in 1936.) And Hitchens whines that Franco “hardly ever said or wrote anything interesting in his life,” which is false, though in part explained by Franco’s oft-repeated dictum that “One is a slave to what one says but the owner of one’s silence.” Hitchens squirms a bit, though, when he (at least being intellectually honest) quotes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s ringing endorsement of Franco. “I saw that Franco had made a heroic and colossal attempt to save his country from disintegration. With this understanding there also came amazement: there had been destruction all around, but with firm tactics Franco had managed to have Spain sidestep the Second World War without involving itself, and for twenty, thirty, thirty-five years, had kept Spain Christian against all history’s laws of decline! But then in the thirty-seventh year of his rule he died, dying to a chorus of nasty jeers from the European socialists, radicals, and liberals.” Hitchens, for no stated reason, seems to think that Moradiellos’s book proves Solzhenitsyn wrong, when the exact opposite is the case. Hitchens even ascribes Solzhenitsyn’s praise to “infatuation on the rebound,” whatever that means, though the quote is from the late 1970s (from the recently released autobiography Between Two Millstones), long after Solzhenitsyn’s experiences in the Gulag. Probably realizing how weak his argument is, Hitchens then switches gears without acknowledging it, dropping the “crimes” line and claiming that since Franco’s work was all undone rapidly after his death, Franco was bad. Which is even more intellectually sieve-like. The lack of mental rigor in this line of thought can be seen if we switch the focus from Franco to any one of scores of Christian heroes of the past. Once you leave St. Francis of Assisi behind, any Christian military hero plucked at random from the pages of history did far worse things to his enemies, and often to his friends, than Franco. Try Charlemagne. Or Saint Louis IX. Or Richard II Lionheart. Or El Cid. Or Don Juan of Austria. All wars fought to decide ultimate questions are unpleasant and involve acts that endanger the souls of men. It is merely the proximity of Franco to us in time, combined with the lack of steel that has affected many Christians for decades now, that makes Hitchens shrink from endorsing Franco and his deeds, all his deeds. In two hundred years if, God willing, the Left and its Enlightenment principles are nothing but a faded memory and a cautionary tale, Hitchens’s complaints will seem utterly bizarre, like a belief that the Amazons were real. Would I care to stand in Franco’s shoes before the judgment seat of Christ? Not particularly. But I am far from certain that it would be an uncomfortable position. Several events appear in every history of the Spanish Civil War. Among these are the 1930 Jaca revolt; the 1934 Asturias Rebellion; and the 1937 bombing of Guernica. In astronomy, there is the concept of “standard candles.” These are stars of a known luminosity, whose distance can be accurately calculated, and against which other celestial objects can then be measured. I think of events that regularly recur in histories as standard candles: happenings about which certain facts are not in dispute, but which different authors approach differently, either by emphasizing or omitting certain facts. By examining each author’s variations, we can measure him against the standard candles, determining, to some degree, whether his history is objective, or a polemic, in which latter case its reliability becomes suspect. [Review/analysis completes as the first seven comments.]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Wang

    2019年10月,西班牙政府做出了將佛朗哥墓從烈士谷遷出的決定,這條消息佔住了新聞版面的一角,勾起了人們的回憶。這是二十世紀初的一場重大的政治事件的遺留物,發生在西班牙的內戰,極端的左右兩派惡鬥,不僅在當事國,也在西歐掀起了巨大的騷動。而佛朗哥(Francisco Franco),則是其最直接的產物,一位獨裁者,統治了西班牙近三十年之久。 這位至今仍是難以評價的爭議性,但並不讓人意外也不讓人陌生,特別是對台灣來說,怎麼看待兩蔣應該也是一種近似的回憶。不過一般來說,在華文圈中西班牙內戰及佛朗哥還是相當的冷僻,但值得慶幸的是,簡體書市似乎開始注意到這塊,陸續推出了相關的通史跟專著,這本《愛國的獨裁者:佛朗哥傳》就是上海社會科學院出版社的第三本作品(前兩本是《民主的勝利》跟《民主國王:胡安‧卡洛斯傳》),兩位作者之一的斯坦利‧G. 佩恩(Stanley G. Payne)也曾有一本《西班牙內戰》的通史為中信出版社引進過,有不錯的評價,我也曾拜讀。自從我在林達的《西班牙像一本書》讀到關於佛朗哥的敘述後,一直期待能夠有夠進一步的中文專著,本書算是滿足了我的願望,解答了許多疑惑。畢竟林達是位作家而非 2019年10月,西班牙政府做出了將佛朗哥墓從烈士谷遷出的決定,這條消息佔住了新聞版面的一角,勾起了人們的回憶。這是二十世紀初的一場重大的政治事件的遺留物,發生在西班牙的內戰,極端的左右兩派惡鬥,不僅在當事國,也在西歐掀起了巨大的騷動。而佛朗哥(Francisco Franco),則是其最直接的產物,一位獨裁者,統治了西班牙近三十年之久。 這位至今仍是難以評價的爭議性,但並不讓人意外也不讓人陌生,特別是對台灣來說,怎麼看待兩蔣應該也是一種近似的回憶。不過一般來說,在華文圈中西班牙內戰及佛朗哥還是相當的冷僻,但值得慶幸的是,簡體書市似乎開始注意到這塊,陸續推出了相關的通史跟專著,這本《愛國的獨裁者:佛朗哥傳》就是上海社會科學院出版社的第三本作品(前兩本是《民主的勝利》跟《民主國王:胡安‧卡洛斯傳》),兩位作者之一的斯坦利‧G. 佩恩(Stanley G. Payne)也曾有一本《西班牙內戰》的通史為中信出版社引進過,有不錯的評價,我也曾拜讀。自從我在林達的《西班牙像一本書》讀到關於佛朗哥的敘述後,一直期待能夠有夠進一步的中文專著,本書算是滿足了我的願望,解答了許多疑惑。畢竟林達是位作家而非史家,他筆下有太多啟人疑竇的敘述,需要有更詳細的研究來回答我的問題。 ‧做為君主主義者的佛朗哥 我承認,如果我活在那個時代也會成為一個立憲君主主義者,這算是個人的一種政治幻想,所以我對於復興了西班牙王室的佛朗哥備感好奇。究竟他是抱持著怎樣的心態去做這件事情呢?真的只是一種浪漫嗎? 環顧所有歷史人物,其行為無一都會受到性格跟環境的制約,兩者是交互作用的,前者的影響可能比後者來的大。從書上告訴我們,佛朗哥就是一位小心、謹慎、講究傳統的保守派,儘管他是位實用主義者,但他個性中的這些屬性侷限了其作為。但歷史微妙之處,在於西班牙當時環境需要的恰恰是這樣的人,極端的兩派惡鬥之後,需要一位小心翼翼的收拾殘局者。平心而論,佛朗哥的手段並不特別的殘忍,本書明確的指出,當時的左派在清洗政敵也沒有客氣到哪去,甚至還爆發激烈內鬨,被認為是在戰爭中失敗的原因之一。而且,如果就共和國的立場來攻擊佛朗哥也更是站不住腳,別忘記恰恰是左派對民主主義原則的蔑視才引發右派的反擊,而他們的表現也不像是要恢復這個體制。對當時的西班牙人民來說,兩個派別的極端性其實是大同小異的。就現實來說,當佛朗哥在戰後緩緩地恢復了穩定與提供經濟成長,左派多次想要嘗試奪取政權都得不到人民的支持,正是反映了對其統治的肯定,以及清楚的知道“另外一邊沒有比較好”。 歷史環境需要佛朗哥,也創造了他,或許當事人也是這麼自認。佛朗哥當然不是天生的君主主義傾向,阿方索十三世對其有恩,但他並不愚忠,內戰後的西班牙並不具備立刻恢復君主的條件,或許這是執掌權柄的理由,但多少也可能是實情。或許我們可以懷疑,因為佛朗哥沒有兒子,又討厭女婿,才讓他做出如此決定,但不論如何,至少他留給了西班牙一個相對穩定的政權與體系,挑選出了一位稱職的國王。他仍決定了歷史的流向。 ‧如何具體評價佛朗哥的事業 但是,要怎麼評論這個人一生的作為,卻是一件難題。本書在第十八章引用了一位德國同行沃爾特‧貝內克(Walther Bernecker)擬出的一套方法,個人覺得頗為實用。 一‧當事人主觀想成就的目標 二‧當事人客觀達成的副作用,但可被接受。 三‧當事人意料之外產生的結果,多半是其所反對或無法接受但又不能逆轉的。 按照上面的三個標準來說,佛朗哥主觀想成就的是一個傳統保守,在威權統治下的富強西班牙。而隨著經濟發展帶來的文化與風氣轉變,還有一些自由思想的萌芽是這位現實主義者可以接受的產物。至於之後的民主化則未必是老獨裁者樂見的結果了。 某些對佛朗哥持正面觀感的人會說是他奠定了今日西班牙政治的基礎,這並非溢美之詞。但這是他本人主觀的意志嗎?肯定不是。本書兩位作者明確的指出,佛朗哥對民主主義並沒有好感,但是他也很確定的知道,在自己之後,體制必然生變。他清楚知道,自己選擇的繼承人胡安‧卡洛斯,這位未來的國王是有自由主義傾向。不過,佛朗哥比較沒有一些獨裁者特有的嚴重偏執,他並不試圖阻止,不會非常在意“人亡政息”。作者引用了一段軼聞,胡安‧卡洛斯曾向佛朗哥多次尋求如何統治的建議,但這位老人只是不耐煩的回答:「你既不能也不會照我的那套去做,又何必問!?」如果這段故事屬實,那佛朗哥可真的算是“非常的看透人生”了。 不過說起來,佛朗哥跟當代的其他同行最不同之處,就是他既沒有嘗試建立一套意識型態體系,也沒有組織政黨來鞏固政權。當然,他有尋求一些政治勢力的支持,否則不可能統治,但那些人頂多只是“派系”,而非同屬一套意識形態下的有組織形式政黨,在這種情況下,體制的延續恐怕並不容易。由此反過來看,佛朗哥對自己身後必然“政變”的現實,恐怕也是刻意為之的。 我並非把佛朗哥說的多超然,所有獨裁者的一些特徵他也的確不欠缺,在他的事業背後有得益者也有受害者都是事實,貝內克提供的三個標準至少讓讀者在評價上有了更不容易起爭執的做法。 本書中譯本看來很厚重,有點讓人望而生畏,但其實兩位作者的文筆流暢,敘事跟論述平衡,譯筆也很好,是一個不錯的閱讀體驗。儘管西班牙內戰對華文圈來說可能有點遙遠,但其實不然,在某些性質上其實它跟我們父祖輩曾體驗的過往是有異曲同工之處,而當我們面對許多遺留下來的“歷史問題”時,或許也能提供些參考吧。

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    "He [Franco] has frequently been denounced as the general who led a Fascist coup d'etat against a democratic republic, but this allegation is incorrect in every detail. The only accurate part of this claim is that he was a general". Fransisco Franco is probably one of the most misunderstood figures in history. He was a monarchist, a devout Catholic (albeit without much mercy) and a simple family man. He was a brave military officer who commanded respect, rather than friendship. His balancing act "He [Franco] has frequently been denounced as the general who led a Fascist coup d'etat against a democratic republic, but this allegation is incorrect in every detail. The only accurate part of this claim is that he was a general". Fransisco Franco is probably one of the most misunderstood figures in history. He was a monarchist, a devout Catholic (albeit without much mercy) and a simple family man. He was a brave military officer who commanded respect, rather than friendship. His balancing act between the Monarchists, Fascists (Falangists), extreme Catholics (the Carlists) and the military was an amazing feat. His monologues were more excruciating than even Hitler's. Franco is also responsible for the deaths of around 60,000 people (the "republicans" around 55,000). I have read much on WW2 history and Soviet history and yet the Spanish Civil War manages to be an area where historians are the least objective, the authors here are an exception. This book is a great insight into the "nationalist" side. His later years are interesting also, with the careful maneuvering with Don Juan, his son Juan Carlos and the Catholic church (that moved away from him, rather than the opposite). Well worth a read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    a definitive chronicle of franco, by an expert on fascism, spain civil war etc.. so well put together you might, just might, come out thinking , hey, ol franco wasn't such a bad guy after all. in 1952-53 they finally treatied with usa to build military bases and get some outside trade going and some outside money coming in. franco left his farcical autarchy economy idea slip away and growth rate of lots of indicators went straight up for over a decade. but then, press still heavily censored, pris a definitive chronicle of franco, by an expert on fascism, spain civil war etc.. so well put together you might, just might, come out thinking , hey, ol franco wasn't such a bad guy after all. in 1952-53 they finally treatied with usa to build military bases and get some outside trade going and some outside money coming in. franco left his farcical autarchy economy idea slip away and growth rate of lots of indicators went straight up for over a decade. but then, press still heavily censored, prisons used in the best stalin tradition, cultural groups persecuted unto an inch of identity. as a basque about the "ring game" at school. it is where your fellow students would snitch on you for speaking basque, then the teacher would beat the shit out of you. anyway, through the 1950s 1960s 1970s his fascism and dictatorship changed over to corporatism or institutionalized authoritarianism just before he finally croaked, he picked prince juan carlos to take over, and planned more or less to have things carry on as before. but the prince became a king and shortly spain became a constitutional monacrchy slash democracy. quite a book though, fun reading, really useful endnotes, nice pics, nice maps.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pedro Juarez

    There are not that many English language bios out there on this dictator, so it was good to find this one. Four chapters in, it is fascinating. A physically little guy, with grit, luck and pluck, moves up the ladder in military rank and society. Payne shows how many major players on the future Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War interacted with each other, and how Franco's views were shaped. Especially interesting were the portions of the book that cover the brutal war in Spanish Morocco, There are not that many English language bios out there on this dictator, so it was good to find this one. Four chapters in, it is fascinating. A physically little guy, with grit, luck and pluck, moves up the ladder in military rank and society. Payne shows how many major players on the future Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War interacted with each other, and how Franco's views were shaped. Especially interesting were the portions of the book that cover the brutal war in Spanish Morocco, including a military collapse that rivalled any other European colonial war disaster. On campaign, Franco shoots a mutinous soldier in the head, so he's definitely not just a desk murderer. So far the book is giving me what I want - things I did not know. As to bias, that remains to be seen - the jury is still out. I've Read Preston's Civil War, so I thought I would try this book for perspective. So far, I'm glad I did. Update: upon finishing the book, my rating remains the same. As a biography, the book is stronger on Franco's family and personal life than on how his governing decisions affected Spain and its citizens. For example, following the Civil War, political and blood crimes were tried by military tribunals. Franco believed in legality. As an authoritarian, following the rules was important to him. However the trials are not gone into in any depth. There is not much detail on what crimes were prosecuted, and whether there was any fairness in the process. The tribunals could have operated with grudging moderation or been "bloody assizes". Another area was Franco's push to re-establish Catholicism after the war. It is discussed in broad terms, but its impact on the average citizen is not covered in any detail. Rebuilding churches burnt by Republicans, promoting religion in the schools, and concordats are covered, but not whether being a non-practicing Catholic created problems. Persecution of Protestants was an occasional issue, and talked about in general terms - without much detail. The biography covers a lot, but can't cover every aspect of Spain in the Francoist era. It is also limited by the fact that Franco kept his own counsel, and left little in the way of written documents, letters or diaries. There is not a lot of hand-wringing over the cost to the opposition; but rather a cold assessment that while the Civil War and aftermath was bloody, it could have been much worse. Payne and Palacios rate Franco as the most important Spaniard in centuries in regard to his country's development. All in all, the book provides more balance to the large number of pro-republican works available.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marcos Ortega

    El anti-Preston Este extenso libro contrasta con el de Paul Preston sobre Franco. No cabe duda de que Franco es el personaje que más marcó la historia contemporánea de España y también el más reconocido como el “embodiment” del fascismo mediterráneo, casi un leitmotiv Ubuesco para la izquierda, un ogro con efluvios de político cavernícola y rancio, representante de un anacronismo histórico y hasta el día de hoy bestia negra de los Podemitas y sus aliados. Franco es tan complejo como lo fueron sus El anti-Preston Este extenso libro contrasta con el de Paul Preston sobre Franco. No cabe duda de que Franco es el personaje que más marcó la historia contemporánea de España y también el más reconocido como el “embodiment” del fascismo mediterráneo, casi un leitmotiv Ubuesco para la izquierda, un ogro con efluvios de político cavernícola y rancio, representante de un anacronismo histórico y hasta el día de hoy bestia negra de los Podemitas y sus aliados. Franco es tan complejo como lo fueron sus tiempos, y hacer una biografía balanceada es difícil, porque el otro bando la definirá como “profascista” o “izquierdista”. Podríamos decir que este libro nos presenta una perspectiva refrescante sobre Franco, que ha sido casi exclusivamente objeto de estudio de historiadores de izquierdas, con todo el sesgo que conlleva (aunque algunas partes de dicho sesgo son acertadas). Me apunto a algunas de las críticas a este libro, incluyendo la acusación de que tiene tonos hagiográficos y que glosa algunos aspectos de la dictadura franquista, como la represión y la corrupción institucional; sin embargo, de todos los libros que he consultado sobre Franco, este es el que menos lo caricaturiza y tiene el mérito de añadir un punto de vista a una conversación que ha sido más bien un monólogo. Tengo que reportar, al igual que otro lector, que las notas de pie de pagina no son accesibles hasta que se llega al final del libro, lo que impide la verificación de las referencias.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert Morrow

    Payne writes well, but his subject was a dull little man, an irritating bore who was a minor player in world affairs. If the Eisenhower-Dulles administration hadn't been so paranoid about the Communist menace, his reign would have been blessedly shorter and Spain could have been restored to full health much sooner. Payne writes well, but his subject was a dull little man, an irritating bore who was a minor player in world affairs. If the Eisenhower-Dulles administration hadn't been so paranoid about the Communist menace, his reign would have been blessedly shorter and Spain could have been restored to full health much sooner.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Reza Amiri Praramadhan

    Francisco Franco Bahamonde was El Jefe, Caudillo of Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975. He presided over what widely perceived as the last fascist government in Europe, if not the world (the penultimate would be Portugal’s Estado Novo, which crumbled with the passing of Doctor Salazar and the insurrection of 1974). From a sickly, scrawny little trooper serving in Spain’s colonial wars in Morocco, he became world’s youngest general at that time. This book pointed out that, rather than the gener Francisco Franco Bahamonde was El Jefe, Caudillo of Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975. He presided over what widely perceived as the last fascist government in Europe, if not the world (the penultimate would be Portugal’s Estado Novo, which crumbled with the passing of Doctor Salazar and the insurrection of 1974). From a sickly, scrawny little trooper serving in Spain’s colonial wars in Morocco, he became world’s youngest general at that time. This book pointed out that, rather than the general perception that Franco led the Nationalists from the very beginning of Spanish Civil War, he was one of military officers whom had not dabble too much in politics. He only joined the rebellion after the breakdown of the civilian government and the subsequent takeover of the Spanish Republic by the communists. Compared to contemporary dictators such as Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin, Franco undoubtedly much more normal. He was no great speaker, rather a distant, cold and shy personality, and also, he was no plagued with mental issues. For me, his greatest ability would be his instinct for survival, which enabled him to unite bickering factions of Carlist the monarchist and Falangist the fascist into coherent nationalist force and to ally with Hitler and stay neutral throughout the World War II. He was not a fool in politics too, for he managed to play the Falangists and technocrats of Opus Dei against each other in order to reach some sort of balance within the government. Being a neotraditional Catholic and political pragmatist at the same time, Franco tried to modernize the country while at the same time preserving the Catholic cultural elements of the society (which he undoubtedly fail). The author also asserts that Franco anticipated, if not invented the concept of developmental state, in which political authoritarianism can go hand in hand with economic liberalism. Regarding his view, I think the author has done a great job for reviewing Franco’s place in history, unlike some books that only demonize or beatify Franco. As an admirer of Dictators, I can say that Franco is one of the safer choice as a role model.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Rex

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Franco was a real dick. He killed a ton of people and was completely unforgiving of anyone who didn't comply with his rigid worldview. He seems not to have an ounce of compassion or empathy until nearly the vary end of his life, and that may be due to cognitive issues he was experiencing that made him more emotional. I'm not exaggerating when I say this book took me months to get through. I have never looked forward to the death of a biographical subject so much. However, I was pleased to learn Franco was a real dick. He killed a ton of people and was completely unforgiving of anyone who didn't comply with his rigid worldview. He seems not to have an ounce of compassion or empathy until nearly the vary end of his life, and that may be due to cognitive issues he was experiencing that made him more emotional. I'm not exaggerating when I say this book took me months to get through. I have never looked forward to the death of a biographical subject so much. However, I was pleased to learn that he, a fastidious and demanding dictator, awoke each day at 8 a.m. I will bring this information to my next performance review.  In general, it seems he was very lucky. Lucky to be in the right place, at the right time before and during the Civil War. Lucky to be able to put off the Germans and freaking Hitler for years and avoid participation in WWII. However, there also were quite a few 'lucky' plane and automobile crashes that took out his challengers, so who's to say where luck ends and ruthlessness begins? I laughed when I imagined his twelve-hour cabinet meetings, what a jerk. I also found it funny that everyone was like "the food at Franco's palace sucks." It's CRAZY that this was happening while people in the US were watching All in the Family and MASH.  Anyway, I would recommend skipping to the last few chapters of the book which have a nice summary of the story. The authors seem to gloss over a lot of the more nefarious deeds and motivations of Franco in an effort to provide a more "balanced" approach. This lengthy volume is more about the banal bureaucracy of a self-centered and egotistical man who literally thought he was a gift from God.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Frank Minich

    Overall, the book was sympathetic to Franco. Reading it, you got the feeling that Francisco was obliged to take control as Spanish civil society crumbled. He seemed to be an incorruptible man who, once atop the tiger, was unable to get off it except by death. Perhaps the situation would have been greatly different had Franco had a son. This book does not emphasize the violence of the Spanish civil war, nor the subsequent level of repression and reprisal. Instead, it posits that the level of viole Overall, the book was sympathetic to Franco. Reading it, you got the feeling that Francisco was obliged to take control as Spanish civil society crumbled. He seemed to be an incorruptible man who, once atop the tiger, was unable to get off it except by death. Perhaps the situation would have been greatly different had Franco had a son. This book does not emphasize the violence of the Spanish civil war, nor the subsequent level of repression and reprisal. Instead, it posits that the level of violence by either side was similar. Franco engineered the restoration of the monarchy, to occur on his death, which was successful; it appears he had done his best to prepare Juan Carlos for his eventual responsibilities without tying the future king's hands. That perhaps some authoritarianism was necessary might be indicated by the current state of Catalonia succession efforts. I found the lack of reasonable segmentation within the lengthy chapters to make the book more difficult to read in multiple sittings. Overall, I enjoyed the book. When I recently visited Spain on a cruise, our excursion tour guide seemed to make a point of not mentioning Franco; when I asked why, she said that folks in Germany don't mention Hitler. I see that the young tend to whitewash history not just in the U.S.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alger Smythe-Hopkins

    A carefully positioned and high-level biography of the man who (for better or worse) created the modern Spanish state. Given how controversial Franco's memory is even forty plus years after his death, Payne's project here is to try and get something of a more nuanced and analytically useful picture of Franco, one that steers away from stories of exaggerated violence or overstate his military or leadership skills. What emerges in this book is a man who was not terribly clever, but was a pragmatic A carefully positioned and high-level biography of the man who (for better or worse) created the modern Spanish state. Given how controversial Franco's memory is even forty plus years after his death, Payne's project here is to try and get something of a more nuanced and analytically useful picture of Franco, one that steers away from stories of exaggerated violence or overstate his military or leadership skills. What emerges in this book is a man who was not terribly clever, but was a pragmatic realist who was comfortable accepting almost any reversal in stated policies so long as the change promised to strengthen the Spanish state. This is a useful lens through which to view the confused legacy of a man who started a committed non-political military figure with decided authoritarian fascist leanings and ended up a lifelong dictator heading up democratic reforms, championing liberal economic policies, and the restoration of the monarchy that he knew would overturn most of his projects. By the end of Franco's life you get the sense that even he felt that he had simply outlived his own time and was willing (if not immediately) to allow Spain to move on into a new future. Clearly written and perhaps the first sensible account of the Spanish Civil War that I have ever read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Renzzo Gomez Reatiga

    Excelente narración cronológica, los autores lograr trenzar un hilo histórico en diferentes ámbitos de la larga dictadura de franco, como el social, económico, personal e ideológico. Gran recopilación desde el inicio de su carrera militar hasta el final de su régimen de casi 4 décadas. Libro muy recomendado.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Antonio

    If you want to get an insight on how Spain was run in the XX century this is a great book. It shows the good, the bad and the ugly about Franco dictatorship from an unbiased perspective.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    There are so many so-called "Histories" on the Man usually from a hostile albeit read leftist persuasion behind the book,this book is balanced and fair and at times seems to me to be too much so,it does not endorse His dictatorship but lays bare the facts of The Spanish Civil War and how he was an unwilling participant he wasn't the leader that distinction someone else already had,he is a reaction and with all good reason to leftist violence and failure of the so-called Republic and "Republicans There are so many so-called "Histories" on the Man usually from a hostile albeit read leftist persuasion behind the book,this book is balanced and fair and at times seems to me to be too much so,it does not endorse His dictatorship but lays bare the facts of The Spanish Civil War and how he was an unwilling participant he wasn't the leader that distinction someone else already had,he is a reaction and with all good reason to leftist violence and failure of the so-called Republic and "Republicans".As the Author so finely points out ,The Book's conclusion is the best part, I could have gone without the many personal(too personal) items regarding his last days such as what were the things he said on his deathbed or his cries. The Author used many good sources, I feel Franco Got too soft on times as he was neither A Fascist or a Monarchist,He praised the Falange but wasn't entirely convinced,Praised Monarchy but wasn't completely Monarchist,He was a Ally of The Axis not out of any true Fascist desire or principle but because he believed he was part of a strengthening Europe and he even didn't care for Much Capitalism,more of a State Planner which I dislike.He was Anti-Masonic which I like,Devout Catholic which again speaks to me and most importantly Anti-Communist.He was a big a character as De Gaulle but more consistent.There are many things to praise him about and Spain is Better off just as Chile was Better off because of Pinochet. Franco wasn't an extreme Right-winger sadly,he did give in to pragamtism and sometimes would come around hence why he had Carlists and Falagists surround him he felt both represented the Nationalist movement as well as the Monarchists,so in esscence despite what you read of him he remains a mystery on some fronts much Like De Gaulle,the only Thing for Sure not to be debated was his Patriotism for La Patria.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zechariah Kim

    Excellent insight into a European dictator that "got away with it". Written in a very personal tone, but without becoming too familiar. Many details of Franco's character and how they interacted with the culture of Europe at that time *almost* make him a sympathetic persona. Excellent insight into a European dictator that "got away with it". Written in a very personal tone, but without becoming too familiar. Many details of Franco's character and how they interacted with the culture of Europe at that time *almost* make him a sympathetic persona.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eugenio Gomez-acebo

    Excelente biografía de Franco, un personaje denostado por prácticamente todo el mundo no sólo como diabólico y fuente de todos los males, sino como mediocre y gris. Payne y Palacios ayudan a construir la imagen de un dictador austero, recto, con ideas claras (pocas), que supo mantenerse en el poder durante décadas. Aunque se creyó que su poder emanaba de algo más que la suerte, su determinación y habilidad política y represora le permitió morir en la cama en un país que le apoyaba mayoritariamen Excelente biografía de Franco, un personaje denostado por prácticamente todo el mundo no sólo como diabólico y fuente de todos los males, sino como mediocre y gris. Payne y Palacios ayudan a construir la imagen de un dictador austero, recto, con ideas claras (pocas), que supo mantenerse en el poder durante décadas. Aunque se creyó que su poder emanaba de algo más que la suerte, su determinación y habilidad política y represora le permitió morir en la cama en un país que le apoyaba mayoritariamente. Capaz de sobrevivir a una autarquía y de corregir la política económica. El libro se centra sobre todo en los movimientos diplomáticos con Italia, Alemania y Estados Unidos. Demoledora y certera es su imagen familiar con sus costumbres domésticas, una persona que dejó de hablar completamente, frío y duro. Me interesó conocer su amplia afición al golf.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monte

  18. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Perez

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom Nichols

  20. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Milne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Witchwood

  22. 4 out of 5

    Howard Phillip

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bernard Nauta

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gary Patsley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Celia Crotteau

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Angel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gerardo Valdes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  30. 4 out of 5

    E. Kahn

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