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SECRET WAR IN THE SPANISH SIERRAS – long-concealed details of a desperate conflict
For long the subject was taboo. But now the lid’s off. A highly praised new book entitled “Between Two Fires – Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras” reveals the secrets of a forgotten war.
By: Maroma Press
Between Two Fires - Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras appears at a time when Spain is involved in intense, often bitter debate about its recent past under the 40-year Franco dictatorship.
British journalist David Baird spent more than five years investigating a Communist-led rebellion against the Franco regime that raged long after the 1936-39 Civil War.
It is a story of heartbreak and heroism as he relates what happens in a village in Andalusia when it find itself caught between the ruthless Civil Guard and guerrillas led by a legendary chieftain named Roberto.
“It’s a microcosm of what happened all over Spain when up to 100,000 people collaborated with the guerrilla movement,” says Baird. “Yet because of the strict censorship the conflict went virtually unreported.”
Guerrillas, villagers, Civil Guards give a poignant account of bloodshed and betrayal, courage and heroism. While Roberto’s mini-army of up to 150 men fought in the mountains between 1944 and 1952, politicians as far apart as London and Moscow pulled the strings. During the dark days of the Cold War, Stalin himself became involved.
The author conducted scores of interviews and scoured official archives from Madrid to Washington.
“It was a battle against time,” he says. “Many of the old-timers who lived through those years are dying.”
Among Baird’s discoveries:
*details of how OSS agents secretly trained and armed Communists in North Africa
*confidential reports throwing a grim light on the murder of three young villagers
*how close the Allies came to invading Spain during the Second World War
“Most of all,” claims Baird, “I wanted to give a voice to the humble countryfolk in the same sort of situation suffered today by innocent civilians caught up in conflicts around the world, from Beirut to Baghdad.”
Comments noted British historian Paul Preston: "As exciting as any thriller, yet deeply moving, Between Two Fires deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the history of contemporary Spain."
In his prologue Ian Gibson, acclaimed biographer of the poet-dramatist García Lorca, comments: “David Baird, excellent writer and experienced journalist, reconstructs — and narrates as though it were a novel — the history of those tormented years.”
Between Two Fires - Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras is published in conjunction with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies at the London School of Economics.
Twice awarded Spanish national prizes for his writing, David Baird’s other books include Sunny Side Up – The 21st century hits a Spanish village and East of Malaga – Essential guide to the Axarquía and Costa Tropical.
Between Two Fires - Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras by David Baird is on sale at English bookshops in Spain (price: 18.90 euros) and by direct order from the publishers, Maroma Press of Málaga (£16.50 including postage for UK delivery).
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About Maroma Press: This company publishes books, both fiction and non-fiction, with Spanish themes. Recent history, guidebooks, novels with intense human interest are its specialities. NO new manuscripts are required at this time as Maroma Press already has a number of projects in the pipeline. It is based in the province of Malaga.