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Public Squabbles

P1010009.JPGAdmit it or not everybody likes a bit of gossip and to watch an argument – preferably a public spat. The International Brigade and the Guerra Civil have produced a few gems. Frank Graham, ex IB published ‘Volunteer for liberty, the Spanish Civil War’ in 1999. It is fairly decent book with a detailed look at Brunete and the Aragon Front.  However my favourite bit is the section – ‘Slanders about the International Brigade.’ Wow, he was angry!

G. Orwell and ‘Homage to Catalonia.’
Frank believes the book is a ‘mixture of muck and fantasy’. Orwell is a ‘neurotic liar.’ Frank doesn’t actually say why he thinks these things but is clearly very angry and believed that Orwell ‘was working for the British Secret Service and reporting on who he considered as subversive writers’.

My View – Homage to Catalonia is a master piece of literature. It is a school set book because it is a brilliant. I can only assume Frank does not like people if their politics are different to his – sounds like the old Communists versus POUM hatred. I thought the main part of H to C was to explain the complexities of Spanish politics and to feel the frustration he felt around the events in Barcelona. 
Since 1999 we now know that Orwell was in fact under investigation by the UK authorities. There is no evidence to support the secret service theory.  Sorry Frank – you are wrong.

‘A Moment of War’ and Laurie Lee

As far as Frank is concerned Laurie Lee (author of another school set book ‘Cider with Rosie’) was a ‘liar’ and never fought in the Spanish Civil War as he claimed. Frank published an article from John Dunlop (ex IB) which rubbishes ‘A moment of war’. John was at Teruel which appears in the book. John (& others) agree Lee was in Spain but never actually fought in a battle – many think he has woven other peoples experiences into his own story.
My View – Frank is right. Laurie Lee was a great story teller but he seems to have got carried away. He should have described it as fiction rather than suggest it was autobiographical. I can understand Frank’s anger.  Laurie himself said that A Moment of War was ‘a book in which I tell a truth which is larger than my own particular experience’; Wikipedia,

‘Land and Freedom’ by Ken Loach

According to Frank the film is ‘a farrago of nonsense and venom...boring...incomprehensible’ a ‘crudely planned attack on the Spanish Communist Party, and the Popular Front.’
My View – Why did the Popular Front fail? Because of attitudes like Franks. The whole part of the film is to try and explain how POUM and the Anarchists felt. The failure to find common ground between all the political parties was the disaster. Franco never won the war, the Popular Front lost it. By the way – the film is a bit boring!

Hugh Thomas and Wally Tapsell

Frank says Hugh Thomas is responsible for a ‘farrago of nonsense’ over Wally Tapsells reported death at Belchite. Wally Tapsell was the ex leader of the young communist league and in 1937 British political commissar.
My View – Have a heart Frank, Hugh’s book ‘The Spanish Civil War’ is so detailed a few mistakes can be forgiven. Tapsell actually died shortly after at Calaceite in April 1938.
See Books on the Civil War