'The definitive work on the British volunteers ...a superbly written and deeply moving vision of the inspiring but doomed efforts of men and women to halt Europe's descent into war.' Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Holocaust On 17 July 1936 a Nationalist military uprising was launched in Spain. In the face of the rebels' bloody onward march, the Spanish Republic turned to the leaders of Britain and France for assistance - but its pleas fell on deaf ears. Appalled at the prospect of another European democracy succumbing to fascism, volunteers from across the Continent - and beyond - flocked to Spain's aid, many to join the International Brigades. As many as 2,500 of these men and women came from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, and contrary to popular myth theirs was not an army of adventurers, poets and public school idealists. Overwhelmingly they hailed from modest working-class backgrounds, leaving behind their families and livelihoods to fight in a brutal civil war on foreign soil. More than 500 of them never returned home.
In this inspiring and moving oral history, Richard Baxell weaves together a diverse array of testimony to tell the remarkable story of the Britons who took up arms against General Franco. From their struggle against the Blackshirts in the 'hungry thirties', to the fall of the Nazis' Third Reich in 1945, Unlikely Warriors follows a band of ordinary men and women who made an extraordinary choice, and offers a startling new perspective on the Spanish Civil War.
Publisher: Aurum Press
Number of pages: 544
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 38 mm
'Richard Baxell is one of the world's greatest experts on the International Brigades. Unlikely Warriors is not only the definitive work on the British volunteers in terms of its research base and its awareness of the complex British, Spanish and international contexts. It is also a superbly written and deeply moving vision of the inspiring but doomed efforts of men and women to halt Europe's descent into war.' -- Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Holocaust 'Baxell draws painstaking miniatures of the uncontroversial heroism of doomed men. It's beyond history; it's myth.' -- Gideon Lewis-Kraus London Review of Books 'Benefiting from an impressive range of research, this is an extraordinary story of heroism, tragedy and sacrifice.' -- Nick Soldinger History of War magazine 'A marvellously accessible history of the British volunteers who joined the struggle against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Richard Baxell sheds new light on the role and achievements of these idealistic men and women. Fascinating.' -- Victoria Hislop, author of The Return 'A story of astonishing principle and courage. Baxell presents the volunteers unromantically but sensitively: as ordinary people who made an extraordinary choice.' -- Maxine Peake 'This is a colorful, heroic, tragic and deeply troubling tale. War is a horror that can serve a good cause. Baxell provides a full account of mostly working class people who voluntarily went to war for a good cause that they believed in. Based on an extraordinary range of material, it is a splendid thing to have this full and satisfying account.' -- Peter Stansky The Volunteer 'The book is beautifully written and it's a totally absorbing read about incredible people whose like we will probably never see again.' -- Alan Lloyd Morning Star 'Well researched and luminously written, Baxell's book shows us what these volunteers were like - their grand heroism and their petty hatreds, the miseries they endured, the awfulness of war.' -- Francis Beckett The Tablet 'Unlikely Warriors is a well researched, largely balanced, highly readable and accessible narrative of what remains a compelling story. For this, Richard Baxell is to be congratulated.' -- Lewis Mates Contemporary British History 'Lively and accessible... Those of us privileged like the author to have met and known a number of the survivors know that Spain always remained in their hearts. The time they spent there was proudly remembered by many as the most important of their lives.' Morning Star 'Baxell's authoritative book draws on unpublished memoirs as well as personal interviews with a tiny band of survivors who lived their experience, in the poignant words of one volunteer, as "a time of hope, when a man with a rifle had some power to divert the tide of human affairs".' Military History Monthly 'Most interesting, because previously least known, are Richard Baxell's detailed descriptions of the backgrounds of the individual volunteers, drawn from unpublished diaries and oral histories, and the reception they received on their return home.' -- Caroline Moorhead Literary Review 'This is a brilliant new book with lots of new material that should appeal to the general reader as well as those who already have a fair knowledge of the subject. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it.' Journal of the Spanish Study Circle 'Examines the motivation of these individuals and recounts their stories in an oral history of remarkable power.' Good Book Guide