A book on the history of Spain

Jan 12th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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A book on the history of Spain


My wife and I are travelling to Spain (and Portugal) to celebrate our wonderful 10 years of marriage. Having just finished the books we were reading, we both agreed it would be great to read some books that take place in and around the places we will be visiting in Spain. We will see Madrid, Toledo, and Seville and all of these places will be that much more interesting for us if we have read some books (fiction or non-fiction) that take place in Spain during the most interesting periods of time. So, when we stay at the Hostal del Cardenal in Toledo (for example) we will have a greater appreciation and understanding of what sorts of things occurred there and around Toledo.

Does anyone have any suggestions for us?

Thanks in advance - this site has been invaluable for me (the husband) who has assumed responsibility for organizing this trip for the two of us.
10YearAnniversary is offline  
Jan 12th, 2004, 07:41 PM
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If you are looking for short histories, you might try "Moorish Spain" by Richard Fletcher. As its name suggests, it focuses on the Moorish history of Spain, and might give you some background on your visit to Seville and Andalusia. Also, "The Medieval Spains" by Bernard E. Reilly might be useful, although it is a bit heavier a read. It depends on how interested you are in a detailed Spanish history.

The only thing about these books is that they are not organized in a way that would lend itself to tourist itineraries--in other words, there is no section called "Seville" or "Toledo." You might try looking for the Companion Guides for more of a structured approach. The Companion Guide to the South of Spain might come in handy if you are planning to travel through the south. I believe there is also one for northern Spain.

As for fiction, I have seen others recommend "Driving Over Lemons," although I have not read it myself.

MMM is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 02:21 AM
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It's not a historical novel, but "The Seville Communion" by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a wonderful detective story set in Seville.
laverendrye is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 03:14 AM
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An old but still excellent book about the history of Spain is Iberia by James Mitchner. Also, re-read your Hemingway espeically For Whom the Bell Tolls and his collection of short stories, many of which are set in Spain during the 1930s.
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 03:14 AM
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Sorry, it is James Michner of course.
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 03:19 AM
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Michener's Iberia is great - very readable, and covers it all.
Russ is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 03:21 AM
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Try Iberia by James A. Michener - a sweeping work about the author's travels in Spain. Although it was published in 1968, many of the observations are still very valid, and it is rich with historical detail and anecdotes. It also gives a nice insight into "old" Spain. There are lengthy chapters on Seville, Toledo and Madrid.

Another classic is Laurie Lee's "As I walked out one Midsummer morning", which traces the author's wanderings through Spain, on foot.
hanl is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 03:22 AM
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looks like great minds think alike
hanl is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 06:13 AM
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I read " THE STORY OF SPAIN" by Mark Williams before going and found it very helpful.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 06:59 AM
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Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes, which is about the influence of Spain on Latin America, but which does a great job explaining the contributions of different cultures that have histories on the Iberian peninsula (Moors, Jews, Christians).

Barcelona by Robert Hughes, which is a history of this city that includes how its famous landmarks are a reflection of this history.
tommy is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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Another book is Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. It is his gripping personal account of living in Barcelona and volunteering with the socialists army during the Spanish Civil War 1930s. Might make for an interesting discussion in parts of southern Spain where you are going where Franco and his army had more support.
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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Despite being a fascist, Franco looked the other way and permitted many Jews fleeing Hitler to enter Spain during the Holocaust. A wonderful book called "The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot" recounts this by way of a personal history of the author, and goes on to throw a lot of light on the whole subject of Jewish Iberia, "conversos," "Meranos," and crypto-Jews in Spain and Spanish America. Fascinating read, especially relevant for visits to Toledo and Andalusia.
Gardyloo is offline  

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