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The Spanish Second Republic Revisited

From Democratic Hopes to the Civil War (1931–1936)

In the Series
Studies in Spanish History

Manuel Álvarez Tardío is Senior Lecturer in the History of Political Thought and Social and Political Movements at Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid. He has been a visiting research fellow at the universities of Tufts (Boston), Madison-Wisconsin (USA) and the Sorbonne (Paris).

Fernando del Rey Reguillo is Professor in the History of Political Thought and Social and Political Movements at Complutense University of Madrid.Author of The Power of Entrepreneurs. Politics and Economy in Contemporary Spain (Oxford, 2007).

The Spanish Civil War is one of the most studied events in modern European history. Its origins, that is to say the politics of the Second Republic (1931–1936), have been much debated. The republican period has been much idealized and in particular the myth of Spanish democracy beset by fascism, of which Franco was its leading figure, has been much cultivated. But was this really the case? Recently historians of the Republic have proposed a new and non-ideological perspective on the 1930s. Spain’s path was at once different yet in many ways similar to that of Europe during the interwar period.

The Spanish Second Republic Revisited brings together leading and innovative specialists to analyse the main obstacles to the consolidation of democracy in Spain and to debate the principal stereotypes of the traditional historiography of both left and right. The issues addressed include: the breakdown of democracy; whether the CEDA was an opportunity or a threat; the centrist appeal under the Republic; how the elections were viewed and conducted; the transformation of fascism; new revelations about the Communist party; the politics of exclusion at the local level; the perceived necessity for repression; new perspectives on the Civil Guard; the role of intellectuals in the Republic; and revisionism and sectarian history.

The Spanish Second Republic Revisited offers a new and dynamic vision of why Spanish democracy failed to consolidate itself and why it finally fell into the terror of civil war. The book is essential reading for all those interested in modern European history.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-459-8
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $74.95
Release Date: December 2011
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-592-2
Paperback Price: £22.50 / $34.95
Release Date: December 2011
Page Extent / Format: 320 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Series Editor’s Preface, Nigel Townson
Introduction, Manuel Álvarez Tardío and Fernando del Rey Reguillo

1 Stanley G. Payne, A Critical Overview of the Second Spanish Republic

2 Luis Arranz Notario, Could the Second Republic have become a Democracy?

3 José Manuel Macarro Vera, The Socialists and Revolution

4 Manuel Álvarez Tardío, The CEDA: Threat or Opportunity?

5 Gabriele Ranzato, The Republican Left and the Defence of Democracy, 1934–1936

6 Nigel Townson, A Third Way? Centrist Politics under the Republic.

7 Roberto Villa García, The Limits of Democratization: Elections and Political Culture.

8 José Antonio Parejo Fernández, The Mutation of Falangism, 1934–1936

9 Tim Rees, Revolution or Republic? The Spanish Communist Party

10 Fernando del Rey Reguillo, Policies of Exclusion during the Second Republic: A View from the Grass Roots

11 Julius Ruiz, Old Wine in New Bottles: The Historiography of Repression in Spain During and After the Spanish Civil War

12 Gerald Blaney, New Perspectives on the Civil Guard and the Second Republic, 1931–1936

13 Javier Zamora, Intellectuals and the Republic

14 Pedro Carlos González Cuevas, On the Irrelevance of Fascism in Spain


The raison d’être behind The Spanish Second Republic Revisited is not to defend a particular ideological or political standpoint but to elucidate and explain this dynamic, agitated period in Spanish history in all its complexity. Certainly, this does not mean that the authors of this volume share a common vision of the Second Republic, but it does signal their collective intent to escape the ideological certainties that have conditioned so much of the work on the regime. Nigel Townson, General Series Editor of Sussex Studies in Spanish History

The winners of great struggles often write histories of their triumphs, and this was true in Spain during the decades of the Franco regime of works about the Republic and Civil War, 1931–39. Today, few would lend credence to much of the history that was published under this regime’s auspices. But the losers – democrats, socialists, and anarchists, among others on the Left – won admirers who, during the same decades, also wrote histories that admired the losers and were starkly partisan. Hence, an unchanging stalemate in historical interpretation persisted: for the Francoists, their cause was nation and church against communism, among other evils; for others, the events pitted a democratic people against fascism. Over the past three decades, however, new critical historians have found their voice in Spain and elsewhere. This important volume, devoted to key movements and moments in the Republic, is a collection of 15 articles by such historians, most of whom are Spanish. Their work is both powerful and provocative, and will invite both severe criticism and thoughtful engagement. For example, one historian observes that leftist socialists “were embarked on a trail of absurdities…” and ultimately were “irresponsible.” Summing up: Essential. Choice

The present volume is a welcome addition to Nigel Townson’s Sussex Studies in Spanish History which continues to offer to English-language readers significant studies of twentieth-century Spain. Like all good histories, this collection of fourteen essays by mostly Spanish scholars debunks myths, i.e. “an idyllic vision of the Republic and a Manichean version of its collapse” (p. 4).
... Given its goal of “de-sacralization,” it is fitting that Stanley Payne provides “A Critical Overview” of the Republic. His essay is remarkable for its ability to place the Second Republic into the context of interwar European politics and to compare it – rather unfavourably – to the more democratic Weimar Republic which “maintained equal constitutional rights for all sectors of politics and society” (p. 11). Payne makes the stimulating case that the final phase of the Spanish Republic should be compared not to Weimar of 1933 but rather of 1923 “amid … political crisis, hyperinflation, social collapse, political extremism, and, finally, insurrections from left and right” (p. 15).
... The inclusion [in this volume] of more social/economic context might lead to a greater understanding of both the left’s revolutionary desires and the right’s fear of the same. Nevertheless, this coherent collection accomplishes its main goal of offering to scholars the most innovative scholarship on the Second Republic. All students of Spanish history will profit greatly from consulting it.
Michael Seidman, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

Reviewed in European History Quarterly, 2013: 43(3), 519–597, by Alejandro Quiroga, University of Newcastle, UK

Reviewed by Sasha D. Pack, in the Journal of Modern History, The University of Chicago Press/JSTOR, May 2014

This collection of solidly right-of-centre essays opens with a critical overview of the Republic by Stanley Payne in which he highlights the tension between democracy and constitutionalism on the one hand, and arbitrary government and revolution on the other, leading ultimately, to ‘the most complex political situation to be found anywhere in interwar Europe’ (13). One of his principal findings is that the historiography of the Republic is still floundering in the realm of myth, if not intellectual laziness and banality. This edited volume sets itself the ambitious task of righting this wrong.
Reviewed in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 2014

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