The University of Wisconsin Press

European History / Politics / Spain

Republic of Egos
A Social History of the Spanish Civil War
Michael Seidman

“The most original piece of research on the Spanish Civil War that I have ever seen. There is nothing like it in any language.”
—Stanley Payne, author of Fascism in Spain, 1923–1977

Most histories of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) have examined major leaders or well-established political and social groups to explore class, gender, and ideological struggles. The war in Spain was marked by momentous conflicts between democracy and dictatorship, Communism and fascism, anarchism and authoritarianism, and Catholicism and anticlericalism that still provoke our fascination.

In Republic of Egos , Michael Seidman focuses instead on the personal and individual experiences of the common men and women who were actors in a struggle that defined a generation and helped to shape our world. By examining the roles of anonymous individuals, families, and small groups who fought for their own interests and survival—and not necessarily for an abstract or revolutionary cause—Seidman reveals a powerful but rarely considered pressure on the outcome of history. He shows how price controls and inflation in the Republican zone encouraged peasant hoarding, black marketing, and unrest among urban workers. Soldiers of the Republican Army responded to material shortages by looting, deserting, and fraternizing with the enemy. Seidman’s focus on average, seemingly nonpolitical individuals provides a new vision of both the experience and outcome of the war.

Seidman combines a most impressive command of the existing literature on the Spanish Civil War with a highly original emphasis on the ways in which hunger, fear, sex, quality of leadership, quality of supplies (or lack thereof), isolation from friends and family, prospects of victory or defeat, and the struggle for sheer survival affected the morale and the behavior of millions of anonymous participants. At the same time he makes many illuminating analogies with the English and American civil wars and with the revolutionary experiences of France and Russia.”
—Gabriel Jackson, author of The Spanish Republic and the Civil War

Michael Seidman is professor of history at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington and author of Workers against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts.

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September 2002

LC: 2002002808 DP
406 pp.   6 x 9   10 maps

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