The People's Army in the Spanish Civil War (Hardback)
A Military History of the Republic and International Brigades 1936–1939
An article written by the author for Dan Snow's History Hit: 'Why did the Republicans lose the Spanish Civil War?'
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Why did the Spanish Republic lose the Spanish Civil War – and could the Republic have won? These are the key questions Alexander Clifford addresses in this in-depth study of the People’s Army and the critical battles of Brunete, Belchite and Teruel. These battles represented the Republic’s best chance of military success, but after bitter fighting its forces were beaten back. From then on the Republic, facing the superior army of Franco and the Nationalists, aided by Germany and Italy, faced inevitable defeat.
This tightly focused and perceptive account of the military history of the Republic and its army is fascinating reading. As well as providing a broad overview of the strategy and tactics of the People’s Army and its Nationalist opponents, Alexander Clifford quotes vivid eyewitness testimony to give the reader a direct insight into the experience of the front-line soldiers on both sides during these three critical battles. Their recollections reveal to the reader what it was like to fight in the scorching heat of the plains around Brunete, in the shattered streets of Belchite – still ruined to this day – and in the frozen hills of Teruel.
Some readers may be dissuaded by the term ‘military history’ fearing a confrontation with highly technical strategic and tactical information, armament specifications, logistics and the competence or otherwise of leadership. Alexander Clifford’s book is a welcome exception. It introduces the reader to the political turmoil in Spain that erupted into a prolonged and brutal civil war in 1936. He details how the miscellaneous militias had to be moulded into a viable People’s Army with its unique features - the International Brigades, ’a unique physical and martial manifestation of global class solidarity during the rise of fascism’ and the Republican officer corps - to oppose the Franco rebels who were determined to destroy the elected Republican government.Eddie Little, North West Labour History Journal
After an analysis of Franco’s leadership and his forces and the course of the conflict up to the spring of 1937 when the People’s Army was created, Clifford analyses the critical battles of Brunete, Belchite and Teruel. These are detailed and will provide a good reference for any research into any local men who fought in these battles. Upon these battles depended the Republican’s chances of victory. This was not to be.
‘ From the spring of 1938, the Republic was crippled and for the superior army of Francisco Franco it was question of when, not if, final victory would come’.
Excellently illustrated with photographs and maps which enables the reader to follow the conflict in its different stages, this is an important contribution to our understanding of this appalling tragedy.
“…a useful read for anyone with an interest in the Spanish Civil War.”The NYMAS Review
With an appendix on weapons, detailed orders of battle, plus good sources and notes Clifford has penned an exceptional book on the Spanish Civil War.World at War #74, reviewed by John D. Burtt
This is not revisionist history, although it corrects several myths. Instead it celebrates the achievement of the Republic in raising a modern army at such short notice which acquitted itself surprisingly well against overwhelming odds.Historical Novel Society, reviewed by Edward James
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This excellent book covers the men who joined the republic cause in Spain, including many from the U.K. It is well researched from primary sources and has an easy and enjoyable narrative style. For those without a knowledge of the civil war, it may be wise to undertake a little background reading on the causes and events of the war, as even I became confused occasionally on the terms republican and nationalist, and who was fighting who. Likewise, a basic knowledge of Spanish geography is useful. Having said that, this book is not intended as a history of the civil war, it focuses on the republic and international brigade, and in this area, I cannot fault it. I found it absorbing, as well as moving, and reminded me how ordinary men and women can become embroiled in the competing interests of politicians.British Military History
There are sixteen pages of photographs in the centre of the book, and various maps contained at the front and within the text. In conclusion, I rate this book highly and commend the author for covering an interesting, yet often overlooked, area of recent military history. My neighbours father fought in the Spanish Civil War, so for me there is a personal interest, but nevertheless, I recommend this book to a wider audience for its content.
I found this publication well thought out for the reader, the style of explanations of this complicated war made for a really enjoyable read, even with a basic understanding of the subject.Despatches, COVID-19 Quarantine Special - review by Susie Rotherforth
The Spanish Civil War... deserves a much wider appreciation and that's what you get here in Alexander Clifford's excellent and detailed look at the conflict. It covers the three great offensives of the Republicans, each campaign and battle incorporates the experiences of those who were there but also seeks to put many of the events into context.The Armourer, June 2020
If you have an I terest in the Spanish civil war then this is a good starting book.Richard Domoney-Saunders
It outlines the conflict and is an easy book to read and digest, the author has done his research well and covers the war from the peoples army point of view.
An honest account of a forgotten war.
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Clifford's account is well-researched, balanced and written in an engaging style throughout... He combines foot soldier accounts with grand battle strategy without losing the flow of the battles... you get a very clear idea of the ebb and flow of the action and what it was like to have fought in that action.¡No pasarán! The Magazine of the International Brigade Memorial Trust
Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to people who, like me, are fascinated by the military side of the Spanish Civil War, but also to general readers who I believe would enjoy this too."
Ranked #1 Spanish Civil War book of 2020 by Book AuthorityBook Authority, May 2020
This tightly focused and perceptive account of the military history of the Republic and its army is fascinating reading. As well as providing a broad overview of the strategy and tactics of the People’s Army and its Nationalist opponents, Alexander Clifford quotes vivid eyewitness testimony to give the reader a direct insight into the experience of the front-line soldiers on both sides during these three critical battles.
Read the full review here
Clifford’s picture of his subject as an army is as acute as it is to the point... an interesting read... Those familiar with the standard reading will therefore find their knowledge of the conflict significantly extended, while it is to be hoped that the work will find its way onto many course bibliographies.Charles Esdaile, European History Quarterly
The best English language review of the Republican campaigns during the Spanish Civil War. The author has presented a convincing review of campaigns and the contribution of the International Brigade. – Very Highly Recommended.Firetrench
Read the full review here
I believe Alex’s The People’s Army in the Spanish Civil War is exceptional, it is accessible in that it spans the divide between academic and populist publications. It can be read by anyone as the History teacher here presents the information in a way that is clear, but challenging. The chapter structure and style of writing make the reading of this volume a pleasure, the chapters are distinct units, part of a larger unit, one has the feeling of fulfilment on reaching the end of a chapter. It is usual to impose a qualification on recommendation, limiting the recommendation to a particular grouping of people. In this case this would be unnecessary, for experts on, and novices too, the topic will get something from this publicationThe Battlefields Trust
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Alexander Clifford has written a closely-detailed account of military aspects of the war in Spain. The facts of how each side was armed are essential for an understanding of what helped or hindered their activities. And the nature of the war was often shaped by political concerns, so they have relevance to what the soldiers did. His book is a useful addition to the vast library about what happened in Spain in the 1930s, It has notes, a bibliography, and an interesting appendix by Freddy Clifford about the different weapons used by combatants on both sides of the conflict.Jim Burns, The Penniless Press, 2020
See the full review here
The People’s Army in the Spanish Civil War is exceptional, it is accessible in that it spans the divide between academic and populist publications. It can be read by anyone as the History teacher here presents the information in a way that is clear, but challenging. The chapter structure and style of writing make the reading of this volume a pleasure, the chapters are distinct units, part of a larger unit, one has the feeling of fulfilment on reaching the end of a chapter. It is usual to impose a qualification on recommendation, limiting the recommendation to a particular grouping of people. In this case this would be unnecessary, for experts on, and novices to, the topic will get something from this publication.Tony Fox, The Battlefields Trust, March 2020
For the full review see here
Author interview on War ScholarWar Scholar
It is well written and offers a different perspective on the Spanish Civil War. A worthy addition to the extensive literature on this conflict.Balkan Wargamer
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The author has produced a very clear and lucid description of the Republican Army and its performance in the Spanish Civil War. It is well supported with maps and images and a very useful summary of the weapons available to the Republicans. The narrative consistently points out the courage and effectiveness of the Republicans but also how hindered they were by the absence of a mass of the necessary materiel, particularly tanks. In short, the Republicans could break in but not break through; a continued lesson from WW1. A story of its time.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide