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Forged in Spain

Forged in Spain by Richard Baxell

Published by Clapton Press on 23 November 2023, Forged in Spain is a collection of ten biographies recounting the lives of a number of extraordinary men and women who left their families and friends to risk their lives in the Spanish Civil War. The majority of those to feature were members of the International Brigades, the battalions of foreign volunteers raised by the Communist International (known as the Comintern) to fight for the Republic. However, also included are a number of individuals who served in other roles, such as journalists, political functionaries, relief workers and medics. While the biographies centre on the experiences gained during the war in Spain, they all include an account of the subjects’ early lives and backgrounds, to help explain their political development and their choice to become involved in the war. Likewise, the consequences of their participation in the civil war are explored in detail: how they faced up to the defeat of the Spanish Republic and consequent forty years of Franco dictatorship, their involvement (or not) in the Second World War and their attitudes towards the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

Contents:

The Forgotten Warrior: Malcolm Dunbar
The Niños’ Second Mother: Leah Manning
The Cambridge Rebel: Peter Kemp 
Their Man in Havana: Sam Lesser (aka Sam Russell)
A Family Goes to War: The Haldanes (Charlotte, JBS & Ronnie Burghes)
Out of Orwell’s Shadow: Stafford Cottman 
The Truculent Scotsman: Peter Kerrigan
The Red Musician: Alexander Foote  
The Painter of Words: Clive Branson
The Brilliant Surgeon: Alex Tudor Hart

Reviews of Forged in Spain:

‘As the Spanish Civil War fades from living memory, Richard Baxell has rescued from obscurity some of the brave men and women who left the safety of their homes in Britain to risk all in the fight against fascism, using newly released archival material to bring their stories vividly to life.’

Billy Bragg

‘These enthralling biographies give a picture of the passions of the age … Baxell’s research is meticulous … Forged in Spain is a serious and moving book that may inspire readers to fight the rise of a new fascism today.’

Michael Eaude, The TLS

‘Excellent research based on the latest files from a range of sources, well put together, with some sound judgements and reassessments.’

Stephen Dorril, author of MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service

‘Ten fascinating biographies of extraordinary men and women … this book will obviously be of great interest to both specialists and general readers … thoroughly researched, absorbing to read.’

Brian Rubin, The Orwell Society

‘The great strength of the book lies in Baxell’s project of showing how these individuals’ life stories were given a defining “barricade moment” of political clarity during the war, and how the conflict called forth previously unknown strengths of leadership and organisation from its participants … the personal stories are absorbing and exceedingly well told, as Baxell skilfully interweaves varied sources — archival, oral history and autobiography.’

Helen Mercer, The Morning Star
Flyer for event at the 2024 Crouch End literary festival
Flyer for event at the 2024 Crouch End literary festival.

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