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Ghosts of Spain

by Giles Tremlett

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5192734,644 (3.97)47
The appearance, more than sixty years after the Spanish Civil War, of mass graves containing victims of Franco's death squads finally broke the unwritten understanding among Spaniards that their recent, painful past was best left unexplored. Madrid-based journalist and 20-year resident Tremlett embarked on a journey around the country and through its history to discover why its people have kept silent so long, and here unveils the tinderbox of disagreements that mark the country today. Delving into such questions as who caused the Civil War, why Basque terrorists kill, why Catalans hate Madrid, and whether the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dreamed of a return to Spain's Moorish past, Tremlett finds the ghosts of the past everywhere. He also offers trenchant observations on Spanish life today, such as why Spaniards dislike authority figures, but are cowed by a doctor's white coat, and how women have embraced feminism without men noticing.--From publisher description.The edge of a barber's razor -- Secretos a voces -- Looking for the Generalísimo -- Amnistía and amnesia : the pact of forgetting -- How the bikini saved Spain -- Anarchy, order and a real pair of balls -- The mean streets of flamenco -- Clubs and curas -- Men and children first -- II-M: Moros y Cristianos -- In the shadow of the serpent and the axe -- The madness of Verdaguer -- Coffins, Celts and clothes -- Moderns and ruins.… (more)
  1. 00
    Guerra by Jason Webster (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Both books look at reactions in modern day Spain to the Spanish Civil War.
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English (23)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Although restricted by Tremlett's perspective, this book offers some insights into the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish part of my family and some of the rather surprising things I saw while visiting Spain a few years ago. It also offers a potentially cautionary parallel between Spain's identity crisis and that in the US, including a shared distrust of government and the media and a tendency to believe whatever we feel like regardless of facts. Upon finishing this book I'm left feeling both comforted and discouraged at the ways in which Spain is like the United States.

I appreciate that Tremlett writes about all corners of Spain even though his personal experience is primarily in Madrid and Barcelona. This can be a somewhat dry read at times, but it helped me to alternate between the paper book and the audiobook (and gave me a break from the comma overuse that seems common in certain British writing).

One disappointment during this book, though, was the discovery that the Castilian pronunciation of my last name is not as pleasant to my ear as the Latin American pronunciation. That Castilian "z"...it just doesn't sound right to me. Maybe it would grow on me if I lived there. ( )
1 vote ImperfectCJ | Dec 31, 2020 |
Impressed me with its detail. ( )
  Happenence | Oct 2, 2020 |
I admittedly haven't finished this book. When I first started it, I was very impressed with the author's understanding of Spanish history (in particular, the continuing trauma of the Spanish Civil War). I enthusiastically read the book up until about Chapter 6, when I became aware of the fact that the author's observations were dissolving into gross generalizations and blatant hyperbole -- which isn't to say that there isn't truth there. But the blanket characterizations of "the Spanish people" began to chafe me as a reader and student/professor of Spanish literature and culture, because if there is only one thing you learn when studying Spain, it is that the country is incredibly diverse and that generalizations never get you very far when attempting to understand "La(s) España(s)"

Unfortunate, it was, that the author failed to convince me, because a lot of the time, he does have very insightful things to say about Spain and its people. I guess journalism (i.e. sensationalism) got the best of him. ( )
1 vote voncookie | Jun 30, 2016 |
I admittedly haven't finished this book. When I first started it, I was very impressed with the author's understanding of Spanish history (in particular, the continuing trauma of the Spanish Civil War). I enthusiastically read the book up until about Chapter 6, when I became aware of the fact that the author's observations were dissolving into gross generalizations and blatant hyperbole -- which isn't to say that there isn't truth there. But the blanket characterizations of "the Spanish people" began to chafe me as a reader and student/professor of Spanish literature and culture, because if there is only one thing you learn when studying Spain, it is that the country is incredibly diverse and that generalizations never get you very far when attempting to understand "La(s) España(s)"

Unfortunate, it was, that the author failed to convince me, because a lot of the time, he does have very insightful things to say about Spain and its people. I guess journalism (i.e. sensationalism) got the best of him. ( )
  anna_hiller | Jun 22, 2016 |
Fascinating as he tries to unravel why there was a Civil War in Spain and what happened. And why the older Spaniards are unwilling to talk, and the youngsters want tto know ( )
  Tonyh. | Jan 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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The appearance, more than sixty years after the Spanish Civil War, of mass graves containing victims of Franco's death squads finally broke the unwritten understanding among Spaniards that their recent, painful past was best left unexplored. Madrid-based journalist and 20-year resident Tremlett embarked on a journey around the country and through its history to discover why its people have kept silent so long, and here unveils the tinderbox of disagreements that mark the country today. Delving into such questions as who caused the Civil War, why Basque terrorists kill, why Catalans hate Madrid, and whether the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dreamed of a return to Spain's Moorish past, Tremlett finds the ghosts of the past everywhere. He also offers trenchant observations on Spanish life today, such as why Spaniards dislike authority figures, but are cowed by a doctor's white coat, and how women have embraced feminism without men noticing.--From publisher description.The edge of a barber's razor -- Secretos a voces -- Looking for the Generalísimo -- Amnistía and amnesia : the pact of forgetting -- How the bikini saved Spain -- Anarchy, order and a real pair of balls -- The mean streets of flamenco -- Clubs and curas -- Men and children first -- II-M: Moros y Cristianos -- In the shadow of the serpent and the axe -- The madness of Verdaguer -- Coffins, Celts and clothes -- Moderns and ruins.

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