The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War

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For over half a century, the history of the Abraham Lincoln brigade-the 2,800 young Americans who volunteered to fight for the Spanish Republic against General Francisco Franco's rebellion in 1936-has been shrouded in myth, legend, and controversy. Now, for the fist time, we have a comprehensive, objective, and deeply researched account of the brigade's experience in Spain and what happened to the survivors when they returned to the United States. (About one-third of the volunteers died in Spain). The book is largely based on previously unused sources, including the newly opened Russian archives, and more than 100 oral histories. The author charts the volunteers' motivations for enlisting in the fight against Spanish fascism and places their actions in the context of the Depression era. The battleground experiences of the brigade have never before been depicted in such vivid detail, and such battles as Jarama, Belchite, and the Ebro come alive in the participants' words. The author uses the military aspects of the war to illuminate such related issues as the influence of political ideology on military events and the psychology of a volunteer army. He also closely examines the role of the Communist party in the conduct of the war, including the Orwell question -allegations of a Communist reign of terror in Spain-and investigates the alleged racial problems within the brigade, the first fully integrated military unit in American history. The book continues the saga of the brigade by relating the problems of the surviving volunteers with the U.S. Army during World War II; their opposition to the Cold War, the Vietnam war, and U.S. intervention in Central America; the persecution during the Red Scare of the 1950s; and their involvement with the civil rights movement.