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Coups

Ronald Fraser, 16 July 1981

Modern Spain 1875-1980 
by Raymond Carr.
Oxford, 201 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 19 215828 7
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... From a distance, the image of a pistol-toting Civil Guard colonel holding prisoner Spain’s cabinet and members of parliament recalled Marx’s phrase that history, tragic in its first occurrence, repeats itself as farce. From a lesser distance, the long night of 23-24 February, with tanks in the streets of Valencia, national television taken over, ministers and deputies incarcerated under armed guard in the Cortes, sometimes seemed like history setting out to repeat itself as tragedy ...

Did he or didn’t he?

Ronald Fraser, 20 August 1992

The Interior Castle: A Life of Gerald Brenan 
by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 660 pp., £25, July 1992, 1 85619 137 0
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... Having described a significant segment of his past in South from Granada, published in 1957, Gerald Brenan went on to write two volumes of autobiography, A Life of One’s Own (1902) and Personal Record (1974). These covered his life from early childhood to his return to southern Spain in 1953 when he was nearly sixty, with a few final pages devoted to the following twenty years ...

Staying at home

Ronald Fraser, 27 July 1989

Federico Garcia Lorca 
by Ian Gibson.
Faber, 542 pp., £17.50, July 1989, 0 571 14815 8
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... In 1973 Ian Gibson published The Death of Lorca, his outstanding investigation into the circumstances, silenced for forty years by the Franco regime, of the poet’s assassination at the insurgent military’s hands in the first month of the Civil War. It is highly fitting, therefore, that Gibson should have now written the life of Lorca, as close to a definitive biography as we are likely to get ...

Revenges

Ronald Fraser, 7 February 1991

Gorbals Voices, Siren Songs 
by Ralph Glasser.
Chatto, 209 pp., £13.95, April 1990, 0 7011 3445 3
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A Place for Us 
by Nicholas Gage.
Bantam, 419 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 593 01515 0
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The Hidden Damage 
by James Stern.
Chelsea, 372 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 1 871484 01 4
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... Ralph Glasser’s and Nicholas Gage’s latest autobiographical instalments find their authors making good in their countries of adoption, England and the US respectively. The cost to each of their ascent from exceedingly harsh social beginnings has been different, but in ways that are not surprising: in England the struggle centred on class, in the US on money ...

When students ruled the earth

D.A.N. Jones, 17 March 1988

1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... welcomed, however, by a quite different readership – the ‘student generation in revolt’ of Ronald Fraser’s title – and I was made to surrender my editorship to Tariq Ali. Before my dismissal, I appeared on television to defend the paper against A.J. Ayer, John Gross and Colin Welch – with a chairman who accused me of being a disciple of ...

Poor Boys

Karl Miller, 18 September 1986

In Search of a Past: The Manor House, Amnersfield 1933-1945 
by Ronald Fraser.
Verso, 187 pp., £15, September 1984, 9780860910923
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Growing up in the Gorbals 
by Ralph Glasser.
Chatto, 207 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 7011 3148 9
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... arranged to dramatic effect in interesting ways. Ralph Glasser’s is fresh from the oven, while Ronald Fraser’s appeared in 1984, gained a second impression last year, and is still being discussed. Juliet Mitchell has called it ‘a miniature masterpiece’, and it is a work which should have been discussed in this journal long before now, and would ...

Looking back

Hugh Thomas, 7 July 1983

The Spanish Civil War 
by David Mitchell.
Granada, 208 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 246 11916 0
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... at Paracuellos – probably the biggest single atrocity of the Spanish war. In Blood of Spain Ronald Fraser made a splendid case for oral history by recording the views and recollections of a great many witnesses – modest, and no doubt the more trustworthy for that – to all these events. The books in question go further than ever in reminding us ...

The Potter, the Priest and the Stick in the Mud

David A. Bell: Spain v. Napoleon, 6 November 2008

Napoleon’s Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War 
by Ronald Fraser.
Verso, 587 pp., £29.99, April 2008, 978 1 84467 082 6
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... means that some historians of the period now ignore the Spanish War of Independence altogether. Ronald Fraser’s Napoleon’s Cursed War will not do much to help resolve the debate over the conflict’s significance. The author, best known for an acclaimed oral history of the Spanish Civil War, has done extensive research, and written a fluid and ...

Homage to Spain

Douglas Johnson, 22 May 1986

Homage to Catalonia 
by George Orwell.
Secker, 260 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 436 35028 9
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The Spanish Civil War 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 1115 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 241 89450 6
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The Triumph of Democracy in Spain 
by Paul Preston.
Methuen, 274 pp., £14.95, April 1986, 0 416 36350 4
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... of course, add up to the total collective experience: this is the conclusion which, in 1979, Ronald Fraser drew in his remarkable oral history of the Spanish Civil War, Blood of Spain. If there was enthusiasm, there was enthusiasm on both sides. Incompetence, treachery, disagreement, heroism, cowardice, bewilderment are scattered through the many ...

Author’s Editor

A. Alvarez, 24 January 1980

... the gratitude and affection of a host of authors as different as Edna O’Brien and Eric Ambler, Ronald Blythe and Antonia Fraser. That, perhaps, is the crucial difference between the two men. Lane was a publisher’s publisher, a man with immense commercial flair who opened up markets no one had ever dreamed existed but ...

El Casino Macabre

James Morone: Rebellion of the Rich, 21 June 2007

Wall Street: A Cultural History 
by Steve Fraser.
Faber, 656 pp., £12.99, April 2006, 0 571 21829 6
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Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors 
by Charles S. Maier.
Harvard, 373 pp., £18.95, May 2006, 0 674 02189 4
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... of material desire, of consumption, of get rich now. You might call it an empire of greed. Steve Fraser is a fine New Deal historian whose biography of the union leader Sidney Hillman, wistfully entitled Labour Will Rule, chronicled labour’s ascent into the top ranks of the Democratic Party in the 1930s and 1940s. He flatly admires the egalitarian ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... and the commissars had prevailed. It was nonetheless a compromise – the story is recorded by Ronald Fraser in Blood of Spain (1979) – and both sides had kept their heads during a series of knife-edge confrontations. Had it turned out differently, Neugass might not have got pork for supper. ‘Most of the anarchists,’ he tells his diary, like one ...

Oh for the oo tray

William Feaver: Edward Burra, 13 December 2007

Edward Burra: Twentieth-Century Eye 
by Jane Stevenson.
Cape, 496 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 07875 7
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... of The Tea-Shop, 1929, one of Burra’s Naughtee Paree numbers, perfect for a Folio Society Ronald Firbank reprint, makes it to the dust jacket.) Pictures, it’s true, might distract from the commissioned narrative and, anyway, biographers of painters should avoid frisking pictures for personal disclosures. Yet of all 20th-century British ...

Who needs a welfare state?

Deborah Friedell: The Little House Books, 22 November 2012

The Little House Books 
by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Library of America, 1490 pp., £56.50, August 2012, 978 1 59853 162 6
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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 
by Wendy McClure.
Riverhead, 336 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 59448 568 8
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... Now more than 250 Hmong live there, and run two grocery stores. Little House on the Prairie was Ronald Reagan’s favourite television programme and also, by some accounts, Saddam Hussein’s. It was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s eight novels, which have now entered the Library of America as The Little House Books: the first Tea Party favourites to join ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson, 18 December 1986

L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... Sub-Committee on Korean-American Relations, chaired by the liberal Minnesota Congressman, Donald Fraser. The Moonies have never fully recovered from the ‘Koreagate’ revelations that followed. Day after day the media regaled the public with the details of KCIA attempts to bribe Congressmen, intimidate Koreans living in the US, and use the Moonies cover ...

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