Lost account of Spanish war sees light after 70 years

Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:21pm EDT
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By Angus MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters) - When Henry Buckley crossed the Pyrenees in 1939 with the remnants of the defeated Spanish Republican forces, he had reported on Spain for 10 years, witnessed the great battles of the civil war, and won a reputation as the most informed of all the foreign correspondents who had covered it.

The next year, he had written his account of the turbulent years leading up to the war and the conflict itself, "The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic", just as the wider fight against fascism that he had predicted engulfed Europe.

But a German bomb hit the London warehouse where the copies were stored, destroying all but a few. It remained a collector's item until this month, when a new edition was finally published.

"There are thousands of books on the Spanish Civil War and I would put it in the top five. It's a wonderful book," said historian Paul Preston, professor of Spanish studies at the London School of Economics.

"This is the culmination of a long struggle to get it out."

The book is infused with Buckley's sympathy for Spain's poor, eking out a living in feudal conditions in a country dominated by the army, landowners and the Roman Catholic church.

He was outraged by Britain's refusal to back the elected Republican government and maintenance of an arms blockade against it while Hitler and Mussolini supported General Franco's nationalist rebels with ground, air and naval forces.

He was a great friend of Ernest Hemingway and the photographer Robert Capa; Hemingway sought him out whenever he arrived in Spain to get a good briefing on the situation.   Continued...

A bagpiper plays the Second Spanish Republic anthem during a ceremony to mark the 79th anniversary of Spain's Second Republic at a cemetery in Gijon April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso/Files