Hugh Thomas

Hugh Thomas The Spanish Civil War was first published in 1961: a revised edition followed in 1977. He has since written a history of Cuba and An Unfinished History of the World. A novel, Havannah!, will be published at the end of the year.

Red Spain

Hugh Thomas, 9 April 1992

During the Spanish Civil War the Communist Party established a stranglehold over the Republican Government and Army. They were able to do this for many reasons. First, they could present themselves as the collaborators of the Soviet Union, the chief provider of armaments. They acted as agents for the International Brigades. In addition, they adopted a conciliatory domestic policy, suggesting that the Anarchists, Left Socialists and others were all wrong to think of revolution while the war was going on. The consequence was a great increase in Communist Party membership to include thousands of middle-class Spaniards whose ‘Marxism’ merely spelled the need for a refuge from the Anarchists. The novelist Goytisolo recalls that his father, an engineer in a Catalan factory, joined the Communists in order to try and prevent the Anarchists from taking over the plant.

Diary: In Mexico

Hugh Thomas, 2 June 1988

‘Are you a priest?’ The question came from a taxi-driver in Mexico City’s Calle Francisco Madero. And it was, I suppose, a reasonable question. In Mexico, priests are never allowed in the street in robes, except at Easter time. I did once see a monk in habit walking at dusk between the churches of Santo Domingo and Caridad in San Cristobal de las Casas, but I was assured that he must have been a ghost. In addition, I now look, at a distance, vigilant and sombre: and that day there had been a great manifestacion of loyal Catholics a short distance away in the cathedral square, the Zocalo. The issue had assumed astonishing proportions. About three weeks before, the Museum of Modern Art had allowed a modern painter to exhibit in the main hall a representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the face of Marilyn Monroe in place of that of Our Lady. This blasphemy had outraged the leaders of Catholic opinion. The unwritten understanding in Mexico is that while the Church is not constitutionally recognised, the state does nothing to interfere with el culto. In a few weeks the director of the Museum of Modern Art resigned and began writing articles in the press about the unworthy prolongation of Mexico’s centuries of censorship. The assembly in the Zocalo followed. The previous day our host at a beautiful hacienda near the pyramids of Teotihuacan had said that he was returning to the capital on Saturday night, not Sunday, breaking the habit of a lifetime, in order to be present at the Zocalo at 8.30 a.m. He was taking the event exceptionally seriously.

Looking back

Hugh Thomas, 7 July 1983

In a review, 22 years ago, of my history of the Spanish Civil War, Malcolm Muggeridge concluded that the one merit of the book was that no one would want to go into the disagreeable matter again. That proved over-optimistic. Since then, there has been a flood of memoirs, monographs and reconsiderations. After 1970, it enveloped Spain.

Sad Nights

Michael Wood, 26 May 1994

One of the strangest recurring moments in the Spanish invasion of the Americas was the reading of the Requerimiento, the Requisition, a document which both proclaimed possession of a territory...

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Head over heart for Europe

Peter Pulzer, 21 March 1991

‘We should have to contend with the ordinary Englishman’s almost innate dislike and suspicion of “Europeans” ... Intensive re-education would be needed to bring this...

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Peter Campbell, 5 January 1989

I never knew – I’m not sure I’m pleased to know – that a gull fed an Alka Seltzer sandwich will explode. That, along with a lot of information about what is done to a...

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Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

The history of the United States since the close of World War Two has so far produced relatively little in the way of academic scholarship and even less in the way of serious scholarly argument....

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Eden and Suez

David Gilmour, 18 December 1986

Writing at the end of the Thirties, George Orwell remarked that the British ruling class had decayed so much that the time had come ‘when stuffed shirts like Eden and Halifax could stand...

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Homage to Spain

Douglas Johnson, 22 May 1986

Revolutions have frequently been analysed and categorised. Wars, and the art of war, have been carefully studied. But the category of civil wars has been neglected. Perhaps this is because they...

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Carry on writing

Stephen Bann, 15 March 1984

‘Putting on again joyously the hateful harness’. That is how Robert Pinget’s diffident and slightly dotty narrator, Monsieur Songe, describes the process of taking up his pen...

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Mrs Thatcher’s Spengler

Tom Nairn, 24 January 1980

In the Preface to Book I of The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler proudly declared that his work was ‘a German Philosophy’. There was no incompatibility between this and a history...

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