SPAIN BOOK REVIEW: March – ‘Forgotten Places: Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War’ by Nick Lloyd

Nick Lloyd: Forgotten Places

This is a guide to Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, beginning in the 19th century with the conditions and movements which led to the social revolution of 1936, and ending with the fall of the city on 26 January 1939 when Franco’s tanks drove down the Diagonal and set about destroying everything the Republic and the revolutionaries had built. Stories from the aftermath of the war, the exile and the Franco regime are also included. In addition with dealing with the more obvious issues such as anarchism, the Spanish Republic, Catalonia, George Orwell, the aerial bombing, and the May Days, etc, the book also looks at themes such as the People’s Olympiad, the American Sixth Fleet in the city, Barça, urbanism, Nazis in Barcelona, Robert Capa, the Spanish in the Holocaust, poster art… Intertwined in the text are contemporary quotes and a few personal accounts of people who experienced the war or its aftermath. There are also biographies of figures such as Salvador Seguí, Ramón Mercader, Andreu Nin, Francesc Boix and Lluís Companys. The book is divided into two main sections: a history of the war from the perspective of Barcelona, followed by a guide to related sites which have often been included as an excuse to tell stories or illustrate wider issues. The book ends with an extensive glossary. Nick Lloyd has been running Spanish Civil War tours in Barcelona since 2009.

Cover art and blurb via amazon

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Nick Lloyd. I first met Nick in 2013 while I was on book research trip and took his amazing civil war tour of Barcelona.  At that time, Nick was still putting together his Spanish Civil War book to accompany the tour, which has taken thousands of people through the events that took place in the Catalonian capital in the late 30’s. Every city and town in Spain has its own story to tell, but Barcelona’s journey is truly unique, as a city ready to take on a bold new world, one where everyday people were ready to join forces and change their lives and country forever. Everyone has seen the posters of workers uniting, of children bombed by fascist planes, or nuns’ bodies dug up and put on display. But as people shuffle through the iconic areas of Barcelona, most have no idea what happened in the very places in which they stand.

Nick Lloyd has dedicated years to putting his impressive and exclusive tour together, giving everyone the chance to feel and experience the real history of Barcelona’s war story, with stories from the famous, to the international athletes in the city on the fateful day that war got declared, to the workers and union men and women who dared to take on the oppression. From the ambitious beginnings, to the arrival of optimistic international volunteers, to the infighting and breakdown of alliances, to the aerial bombings and street fights, to the eventual demise of the Republic and following executions, Nick takes the reader through the war, just as he could on his tour. Both the details of this ancient city’s struggles and maps, photo and details can take a reader on the journey the author has made his own.

A reader could use this work to learn more about Barcelona, attempt to follow in its footsteps around Barcelona, or use it as a companion on one of Nick’s tours (book your own tour HERE). Forgotten Places is a culmination of work by a man who has dedicated himself to Barcelona’s civil war history, and is unrivalled in his field. This book belongs on the shelf alongside the greats of the genre.

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