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Historians at War

Cold War Influences on Anglo-American Representations of the Spanish Civil War

Dr Darryl Burrowes currently works at Flinders University, Australia. After careers as a history teacher in London, and an educational book-seller in Adelaide, Darryl returned to university in 2011 to embark on a third career as an historian. He was awarded a PhD in 2017.

No event of the twentieth century aroused as much passion as the Spanish Civil War. People felt compelled to take sides, whether for the elected Republican government, or for Franco and the Nationalists who were seeking to overthrow it. It was a conflict which reverberated around the world, persuading many to travel to Spain and to take up arms for their cause. When the war was finally over, its impact was felt in the pages of history books, as historians, too, took sides in forming judgments on the causes of the war and on its legacies. At no stage was this historical legacy of the war more bitterly contested than during the Cold War.

Historians at War examines how the works of four Anglo-American ‘writer-historians’, who are widely accepted as contributing to the foundational analysis of the Spanish conflict, were shaped not just by the events of the past, but by the political climate of the time in which they were written. Using a plethora of primary materials, including archival documents and first-person accounts, Dr Burrowes scrutinizes the lives and works of two novelists, George Orwell and Gerald Brenan, and of two Spanish Civil War specialist historians, Burnett Bolloten and Herbert Southworth, in order to determine to what extent these writers participated in the murky cultural politics generated by the Cold War’s rabid anti-communist climate, and how they presented and interpreted the roles played by the Spanish Communist Party and the USSR in Spain’s Second Spanish Republic and its Civil War.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, London School of Economics

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-945-6
Hardback Price: £70.00 / $89.95
Release Date: November 2018
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-973-9
Paperback Price: £27.50 / $39.95
Release Date: September 2019
Page Extent / Format: 300 pp. 234 x 156 mm
Illustrated: No



List of Abbreviations

  • Terminology, Parameters, and Aims                                                                 
  • Historiography                                                                                                   
  • Approach and Methodology
  • Structure                                                                                                            

Chapter One – Homage to Catalonia: George Orwell’s Spanish Civil War         

  • Issues of Mythologization                                                                                 
  • Orwell in  Spain: Involvement and Disillusionment                                         
  • Homage to Catalonia: Representations of the PCE and USSR in the Spanish Civil War                                                                                                           
  • Appropriation                                                                                                   
  • Summary                                                                                                         

Chapter Two – Gerald Brenan: From The Spanish Labyrinth to South From From Granada 

  • The 1950s: ‘The Winds of Change’                                                                  
  • The Spanish Labyrinth:
    Genesis and Significance
  • Historiography: Issues of Misrepresentation and Romanticisation                  
  • Brenan in Spain                                                                                                  
  • Brenan Politicized
  • The Spanish Labyrinth: Researching, Writing,
  • Brenan’s Change of Heart, and Cold War Pragmatism                                    
  • Summary                                                                                                       

Chapter Three – Burnett Bolloten: Dedicated Scholar Unravelling a ‘Grand Camouflage’ or Obsessed Cold War Warrior?

  • Setting the Scene: Background to the Historiographical War
  • Bolloten – The Historian: Trials and Tribulations                                             
  • Early Life and Influences – 1909 to 1935                                                        
  • War Correspondent and Communist Engagement – 1936                            
  • The Move to Mexico – 1937                                                                          
  • Writing the Villalba Episode                                                                           
  • Mexican Years: Communist Disengagement – 1937 to 1940                        
  • California Bound: The Gladys Factor, Health and Wealth Issues 1946-49    
  • Getting Published: Continued Money Problems                                             
  • George Weller to the Rescue: The Value of Networking                                
  • From Stoush to History War: Taking Sides and Cold War Issues                  
  • The Politics of Publication                                                                              
  • ‘Birds of a Feather Flock Together’: The Paul Seabury Eulogy                      

Chapter Four – Herbert Rutledge Southworth: Defender of the Spanish Republic from Cold War Revisionism

  • Catching the Spanish Bug: In the Service of the Republic                              
  • World War II: Getting Down to Business        
  • The Historian Takes Shape                                                                               
  • The Southworth Corpus                                                                                    
  • The Southworth Reputation: Reality and Myth                                               
  • Cold War Political Pressure                                                                              
  • Southworth: Historian at Work
  • Summary                                                                                                    





Burrowes is measured in his conclusions. Having set out to identify the extent of intelligence service influence, he is himself aware of the need for caution in an area where the documentary evidence is distinctly limited.
Reviewed by Paul Corthorn, Queen’s University Belfast, in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies: Hispanic Studies and Researches on Spain, Portugal and Latin America (XCVII, 2020) 

Cautious though his conclusions may be, Burrowes’ book undoubtedly makes an important contribution towards deconstructing some of the enduring myths established during the cold war. Like Sebastiaan Faber’s study of Anglo-American Hispanists that precedes it, this book should prove to be of interest beyond professional historians and students, for this is no dry academic (pun intended) debate. As even a cursory examination of the contemporary Spanish media will demonstrate, it is not just historians who become embroiled in memory wars.
Reviewed by Richard Baxell, London School of Economics, in War in History 28(1) 

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