Completing his edgy Spanish trilogy, Jason Webster unearths the secrets of the Spanish Civil War, and turns it into a personal quest for its dark legacy in today's Spain.
After twelve years in Spain, Jason Webster had developed a deep love for his adopted homeland; his life there seemed complete. But when he and his Spanish wife moved into an idyllic old farmhouse in the mountains north of Valencia, by chance he found an unmarked mass grave from the Spanish Civil War on his doorstep.Spurred to investigate the history of the Civil War, a topic many of his Spanish friends still seemed to treat as taboo, he began to uncover a darker side to the country. Witness to a brutal fist-fight sponsored by remnants of Franco's Falangists, arrested and threatened by the police in the former HQ of the Spanish Foreign Legion, sheltered by a beautiful transvestite, shunned by locals, haunted by ghosts and finally robbed of his identity, Webster encountered a legacy of cruelty and violence that seems to linger on seventy years after the bloody events of that war.
As in Webster's previous books, Duende and Andalus, ¡Guerra! reveals the essence of modern Spain, which few outsiders ever manage to see. Fascinating true stories from the Civil War, vividly retold as he travels around the country. Yet the more Webster unveils of the passions that set one countryman against another, the more he is led to wonder: could the dark, primitive currents that ripped the country apartin the 1930s still be stirring under the sophisticated, worldly surface of today's Spain?
“An absorbing book that conveys the raw Spanish experience - its heat, dust, light and shade - with rare and startling actuality. Admirers of his first two books will have their high regard confirmed by this one. Newcomers should start here. They will not be disappointed”
“Written with considerable power and beauty”
The Sunday Times
“The term "romantic traveller", once used indiscriminately by Spaniards to describe any foreigner with a passionate interest in Spain, seems particularly applicable to Jason Webster... you are likely to be seduced by his powers as a storyteller”
“Squarely in the Almodovarian reality of contemporary Spain... goes straight to the heart”
“Webster's surely right to see the legacy of the war in terms of - often turbulent - undercurrents; for him it informs a little-known and largely nasty side of Spain... revelatory and rings true”
“The book's raison d'etre are stories taken from his current surroundings that say something about Spain's ambivalent, deliberately amnesiac relationship with its past, and about ways in which that past continues today... shows that the Spanish Civil War is not only still imaginatively powerful but has lost none of its hold on foreigners”
“Proves himself a writer of true talent,stripping away the myth to reveal the bloody conflict for what it was... brilliantly evokes modern Spain, a shimmering haze of edginess and discontentment which beats down like the noonday sun, and he proves that the dark undercurrents of 70 years ago are still in evidence today”
“There are many... dirty deeds recorded but, partly because of Webster's essentially happy character, his heartfelt prose and his deep love for modern Spain and its vibrant people, this positive and optimistic book leaves an impression of hope after the horror”
“Perhaps only a foreigner, and a foreigner who lives in Spain, could give a truly accurate picture of how the memory of the Civil War still dominates so many people's lives in the country. In all its glare and gloom, this is what Jason Webster's vivid and perceptive journey through the tortured memory of modern Spain provides”
Professor Paul Preston
“It's great! Negotiates that difficult territory between being an outsider and a native and manages to take the reader along for the voyage... a fine and compelling book”
Thad Carhart, author of THE PIANO SHOP ON THE LEFT BANK