Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War

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A spellbinding story of love amid the devastation of the Spanish Civil War

Madrid, 1936. In a city blasted by a civil war that many fear will cross borders and engulf Europe—a conflict one writer will call "the decisive thing of the century"—six people meet and find their lives changed forever. Ernest Hemingway, his career stalled, his marriage sour, hopes that this war will give him fresh material and new romance; Martha Gellhorn, an ambitious novice journalist hungry for love and experience, thinks she will find both with Hemingway in Spain. Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, idealistic young photographers based in Paris, want to capture history in the making and are inventing modern photojournalism in the process. And Arturo Barea, chief of the Spanish government's foreign press office, and Ilsa Kulcsar, his Austrian deputy, are struggling to balance truth-telling with loyalty to their sometimes compromised cause—a struggle that places both of them in peril.
Beginning with the cloak-and-dagger plot that precipitated the first gunshots of the war and moving forward month by month to the end of the conflict. Hotel Florida traces the tangled and disparate wartime destinies of these three couples against the backdrop of a critical moment in history: a moment that called forth both the best and the worst of those caught up in it. In this noir landscape of spies, soldiers, revolutionaries, and artists, the shadow line between truth and falsehood sometimes became faint indeed—your friend could be your enemy and honesty could get you (or someone else) killed.
Years later, Hemingway would say, "It is very dangerous to write the truth in war, and the truth is very dangerous to come by." In Hotel Florida, from the raw material of unpublished letters and diaries, official documents, and recovered reels of film, the celebrated biographer Amanda Vaill has created a narrative of love and reinvention that is, finally, a story about truth: finding it, telling it, and living it—whatever the cost.

*INCLUDES 16 PAGES OF BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS

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About the author

Amanda Vaill is the author of the bestselling Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara MurphyA Lost Generation Love Story, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, and Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. In addition to her screenplay for the Emmy– and Peabody Award–winning public television documentary Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, she has also written features and criticism for a range of journals from Allure to The Washington Post Book World. She lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Apr 22, 2014
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9780374712037
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
History / Europe / Spain & Portugal
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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When Philip IV of Spain died in 1665, his heir, Carlos II, was three years old. In addition to this looming dynastic crisis, decades of enormous military commitments had left Spain a virtually bankrupt state with vulnerable frontiers and a depleted army. In Silvia Z. Mitchell’s revisionist account, Queen, Mother, and Stateswoman, Queen Regent Mariana of Austria emerges as a towering figure at court and on the international stage, while her key collaborators—the secretaries, ministers, and diplomats who have previously been ignored or undervalued—take their rightful place in history.

Mitchell provides a nuanced account of Mariana of Austria’s ten-year regency (1665–75) of the global Spanish Empire and examines her subsequent role as queen mother. Drawing from previously unmined primary sources, including Council of State deliberations, diplomatic correspondence, Mariana’s and Carlos’s letters, royal household papers, manuscripts, and legal documents, Mitchell describes how, over the course of her regency, Mariana led the monarchy out of danger and helped redefine the military and diplomatic blocs of Europe in Spain’s favor. She follows Mariana’s exile from court and recounts how the dowager queen used her extensive connections and diplomatic experience to move the negotiations for her son’s marriage forward, effectively exploiting the process to regain her position.

A new narrative of the Spanish Habsburg monarchy in the later seventeenth century, this volume advances our knowledge of women’s legitimate political entitlement in the early modern period. It will be welcomed by scholars and students of queenship, women’s studies, and early modern Spain.

At the time of its occurrence, the Spanish Civil War epitomized for the Western world the confrontation of democracy, fascism, and communism. An entire generation of Englishmen and Americans felt a deeper emotional involvement in that war than in any other world event of their lifetimes, including the Second World War. On the Continent, its "lessons," as interpreted by participants of many nationalities, have played an important role in the politics of both Western Europe and the People's Democracies. Everywhere in the Western world, readers of history have noted parallels between the Spanish Republic of 1931 and the revolutionary governments which existed in France and Central Europe during the year 1848. The Austrian revolt of October 1934, reminded participants and observers alike of the Paris Commune of 1871, and even the most politically unsophisticated observers could see in the Spain of 1936 all the ideological and class conflicts which had characterized revolutionary France of 1789 and revolutionary Russia of 1917.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the worthwhile books on the Spanish Civil War have almost all emphasized its international ramifications and have discussed its political crises entirely in the vocabulary of the French and Russian revolutions. Relatively few of the foreign participants realized that the Civil War had arisen out of specifically Spanish circumstances. Few of them knew the history of the Second Spanish Republic, which for five years prior to the war had been grappling with the problems of what we now call an "underdeveloped nation."

In Spanish Republic and the Civil War, Gabriel Jackson expounds the history of the Second Republic and the Civil War primarily as seen from within Spain.

From the author of the acclaimed Everybody Was So Young, the definitive and major biography of the great choreographer and Broadway legend Jerome Robbins

To some, Jerome Robbins was a demanding perfectionist, a driven taskmaster, a theatrical visionary; to others, he was a loyal friend, a supportive mentor, a generous and entertaining companion and colleague. Born Jerome Rabinowitz in New York City in 1918, Jerome Robbins repudiated his Jewish roots along with his name only to reclaim them with his triumphant staging of Fiddler on the Roof. A self-proclaimed homosexual, he had romances or relationships with both men and women, some famous—like Montgomery Clift and Natalie Wood—some less so. A resolutely unpolitical man, he was forced to testify before Congress at the height of anti-Communist hysteria. A consummate entertainer, he could be paralyzed by shyness; nearly infallible professionally, he was conflicted, vulnerable, and torn by self-doubt. Guarded and adamantly private, he was an inveterate and painfully honest journal writer who confided his innermost thoughts and aspirations to a remarkable series of diaries and memoirs. With ballets like Dances at a Gathering, Afternoon of a Faun, and The Concert, he humanized neoclassical dance; with musicals like On the Town, Gypsy, and West Side Story, he changed the face of theater in America.
In the pages of this definitive biography, Amanda Vaill takes full measure of the complicated, contradictory genius who was Jerome Robbins. She re-creates his childhood as the only son of Russian Jewish immigrants; his apprenticeship as a dancer and Broadway chorus gypsy; his explosion into prominence at the age of twenty-five with the ballet Fancy Free and its Broadway incarnation, On the Town; and his years of creative dominance in both theater and dance. She brings to life his colleagues and friends—from Leonard Bernstein and George Balanchine to Robert Wilson and Robert Graves—and his loves and lovers. And she tells the full story behind some of Robbins’s most difficult episodes, such as his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee and his firing from the film version of West Side Story.
Drawing on thousands of pages of documents from Robbins’s personal and professional papers, to which she was granted unfettered access, as well as on other archives and hundreds of interviews, Somewhere is a riveting narrative of a life lived onstage, offstage, and backstage. It is also an accomplished work of criticism and social history that chronicles one man’s phenomenal career and places it squarely in the cultural ferment of a time when New York City was truly “a helluva town.”
New York Times Bestseller: “A marvelously readable biography” of the couple and their relationships with Picasso, Fitzgerald, and other icons of the era (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Wealthy Americans with homes in Paris and on the French Riviera, Gerald and Sara Murphy were at the very center of expatriate cultural and social life during the modernist ferment of the 1920s. Gerald Murphy—witty, urbane, and elusive—was a giver of magical parties and an acclaimed painter. Sara Murphy, an enigmatic beauty who wore her pearls to the beach, enthralled and inspired Pablo Picasso (he painted her both clothed and nude), Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
 
The models for Nicole and Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night, the Murphys also counted among their friends John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, Fernand Léger, Archibald MacLeish, Cole Porter, and a host of others. Far more than mere patrons, they were kindred spirits whose sustaining friendship released creative energy. Yet none of the artists who used the Murphys for their models fully captured the real story of their lives: their Edith Wharton childhoods, their unexpected youthful romance, their ten-year secret courtship, their complex and enduring marriage—and the tragedy that struck them, when the world they had created seemed most perfect.
 
Drawing on a wealth of family diaries, photographs, letters and other papers, as well as on archival research and interviews on two continents, this “brilliantly rendered biography” documents the pivotal role of the Murphys in the story of the Lost Generation (Los Angeles Times).
 
“Often considered minor Lost Generation celebrities, the Murphys were in fact much more than legendary party givers. Vaill’s compelling biography unveils their role in the European avant-garde movement of the 1920s; Gerald was a serious modernist painter. But Vaill also shows how their genius for friendship and for transforming daily life into art attracted the most creative minds of the time.” —Library Journal
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