Top positive review
Important addition to SCW history
Reviewed in the United States on April 13, 2020
For anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War, there is one major problem, namely, the surfeit number of books on the subject. Many, if not most, are junk: sloppy, lazy histories or, worse, tendentious (read: lying) accounts that bear no relation to the real event. Paul Preston is the worst of this breed. Worse still are the innumerable (and insufferable) memoirs of those who fought on the Republican (Communist/Socialist/Anarchist) side. Whoever claimed that history is written by the victors never spent any time reading the prodigious outlay of propaganda written by the losers.
There are, of course, good histories and memoirs by those who sympathized with the "rebels," or Franco's side of the conflict, but they are far outnumbered by the type described in the above paragraph. Thankfully, Mystery Grove Publishing has remedied this to a degree with its republication of Peter Kemp's Mine Were of Trouble.
This is an account by a Protestant Englishman who spoke no Spanish and had never visited Spain but whose conscience led him to leave his family and a bright career and go to Spain to fight on behalf of those Spaniards who supported law-and-order against the Left menace.
There isn't much I can add to the excellent reviews already published. I'll point out that, even if you have never read a book on the SCW, this is a thrilling and enlightening account of the war, albeit through the eyes of one man. His narrative provides a basic outline of the war's progression, complete with insights into the Spanish character and unique circumstances that he encountered. Kemp's prose is lively and detailed and does not get too involved in the muck to confuse or bore the reader; he leaves one wanting more without feeling cheated. And Kemp does not shy from criticizing or recounting stories of Franco's side which do not shine the best light on the Nationalists. His analysis of the Guernica hoax is very good as is all of his military analysis.
In a world today where every movement is tracked, it is liberating to consider that 80-some years ago a man could leave his home country and fight in another country's civil war, return to his home country for a funeral, and pick up where he left off.
The only criticism I can level--as a friend--is that the book is marred with typos. The good news is that these can be corrected for future editions which, it is hoped, are many.