The Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) was a confrontation between supporters of Spain’s democratically elected Republic—including peasants, communists, union workers, and anarchists—and an alliance of nationalist Army rebels and upper-class forces, including the Catholic Church and landlords, led by General Francisco Franco. In the political climate of the time, this civil war became the focus of foreign interests advocating conflicting ideas of democracy and fascism. Spain became a training ground where Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy tested military techniques intended for use in a yet to be declared wider world war. Although most Western nations embraced a neutrality pact, individual volunteers from around the world, including the United States, made their way to Spain to support the Republican cause.
Among the Americans was Robert Hale Merriman, a scholar who had been studying international economics in Europe. He and his wife, Marion, joined volunteers from fifty-four countries in International Brigades. Merriman became the first commander of the Americans’ Abraham Lincoln Battalion and a leader among the International Brigades. Now available in a new paperback edition, American Commander in Spain is based on Merriman’s and Marion’s diaries and personal correspondence, Marion’s own service at his side in Spain, as well as Warren Lerude’s extensive research and interviews with people who knew Merriman and Marion, government records, and contemporary news reports. This critically acclaimed work is both the biography of a remarkable man who combined his idealism with life-risking action to fight fascism threatening Europe and Marion’s vivid first-hand account of life in Spain during the civil war that became a prologue to the Second World War.
“As a firsthand account of the confusion and fear and hope of the Spanish battles, it is unsurpassed…it also reveals a poignant awareness of the impact of…war; …the book is a priceless addition to Spanish Civil War literature.”
—The New York Times
“…a poignant love story.”
—Los Angeles Times
“It is a striking portrait of an intellectual who displayed in dangerous action not only exemplary courage but a talent for command.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Told…with great economy and skill …as dramatically constructed as a novel or film. Agonizingly personal, it also clearly sets forth the political and military issues, while thrusting readers into the conflict with frontline immediacy.”
“…a dazzling story of love, courage, and idealism.”
—The Associated Press
“…an important account to the historic literature of modern times.”
—Senator Diane Feinstein