Curator Reviews

William Finnegan

Among all of Orwell’s great unflinching reportage, this book stands out as a personal odyssey and first-person witness to history. He went to Spain in 1936, during the civil war there, to help fight Fascism. He joined a leftist militia and found himself targeted not only by Franco’s forces but by Stalinists intent on crushing anyone not toeing the Moscow line. Orwell’s descriptions of wartime Barcelona and impoverished rural Spain, his clear-eyed analysis of the shifting factions in the war, are triumphs of tender, hard-headed participant-observation. He was wounded at the front, shot through the throat by a sniper. His peerless moral grasp of the dangers of totalitarianism began in Spain.

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