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Lead book review

The Spanish Civil War still dominates our perception of modern Spain

Twentieth-century Spain was a violent, corrupt and volatile country – but that hardly made it an anomaly within Europe, says Sarah Watling

8 April 2023

9:00 AM

8 April 2023

9:00 AM

The Penguin History of Modern Spain: 1898 to the Present Nigel Townson

Allen Lane, pp.400, 30

Nigel Townson’s history of modern Spain begins with disaster – or, more specifically, with the Disaster. When an ignominious defeat in the 1898 Spanish-American war lost the country its last major colonies, a crisis of confidence followed, and the ‘Generation of 1898’ set about trying to diagnose Spain’s problem. Since the scope of Townson’s book runs from that year to ‘the present’ (roughly the spring of 2022), there are plenty of crises to cover.

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