‘Here were the very people who for twenty years had hooted and jeered at the “glory” of war, atrocity stories, at patriotism, even at physical courage, coming out with stuff that with the alteration of a few names would have fitted into the Daily Mail of 1918. The same people who in 1933 sniggered pityingly if you said that in certain circumstances you would fight for your country, in 1937 were denouncing you as a Trotskyist-Fascist if you suggested that the stories in New Masses about freshly wounded men clamouring to get back into the fighting might be exaggerated.’
(George Orwell.) I'm about a third of the way through The Battle For Spain. Beevor does a good job of breaking the subject matter into digestible chapters, perhaps shorter than is typical for historical works. It is, however, relentlessly depressing: the Republicans are fractious and disorganized, and all too often odious; even when they do get it together, you know it'll all be for nothing. The Nationalists are nothing short of nightmarish.
Both sides seem to have been much less individualistic than modern Britain (despite the Republicans stripping away many of the restrictive social conventions previously forced upon them). Is that a deep change across time and place, I wonder, or something that this country would be likely to return to in the face of intense conflict?