No modern conflict has inflamed the passions of both civilians and intellectuals as much as the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. Burned into our collective historical consciousness, it not only prefigured the imminent Second World War but also ushered in a new and horrific form of warfare that would come to define the twentieth century. At the same time it echoed the revolutionary aspirations of millions of Europeans and Americans after the painful years of the Great Depression.
In this authoritative history, Paul Preston vividly recounts the political ideals and military horrors of the Spanish Civil War – including the controversial bombing of Guernica – and tracks the emergence of General Franco’s brutal but extraordinarily durable fascist dictatorship.
Arguably no person in history had such a direct and negative impact on the lives of so many as Joseph Stalin. Under the Red Tsar terror knew no limits, it did not discriminate; no one was safe, no institution, no single town or village was immune. Yet, following his death in 1953, Stalin was deeply mourned. He had ‘received the country with a wooden plough, and left it with a nuclear missile shield’. And no-one else, some claimed, could have led the Soviet Union to victory in the Second World War.
So who was Joseph Stalin, what was his role during the Russian Revolution; how did he come to power, what made him such a destructive tyrant, and how did he impose his will on the Soviet Union for so long?
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