General background

General reading

  • Nick’s guidebook Forgotten Places: Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War is available in print and on Kindle. It is also for sale at the bar where we finish,.and in Poble-sec, Barcelona at Spice Café (Carrer Margarit, 13).It contains most of the stories we tell on the tour and lots more besides . 
  • Helen Graham. The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction. This is in our opinion the best introduction to the war. (also available as an audiobook which is highly recommended). 
  • Ronald Fraser. Blood Of Spain Remarkable oral history of the war based on interviews with survivors made in the 1970s. Significant portions on based on Barcelona.
  • Paul Preston. The Spanish Holocaust A harrowing read from the world’s leading expert on the war, and possibly Preston’s crowning achievement, charting the barbarity on both sides but highlighting the difference between popular violence on the Republican side with the state sanctioned terror unleashed by the rebels.. 
  • Antony Beevor. The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. The 2006 edition, completely revised with new sections after his access to KGB archives is a great introduction to the war. Contains less battlefield history than his other works (also available as an audiobook).
  • Andy Durgan The Spanish Civil War: lucid 150-page overview of the causes, course and impact of the conflict from the socialist left, but free of a doctrinaire straight-jacket.
  • George Orwell. Homage to Catalonia. Still remarkably fresh and honest, this is a superb wartime journal much of which takes place in Barcelona.
  • Julien Casanova: España partida en dos: Breve historia de la guerra civil española (2013). There are huge numbers of books published in Spanish and Catalan. This list is centred on sources in English but we thought this was also worth recommending for those who read Spanish.



The war in Barcelona

The war outside Barcelona

Spanish Civil War in Madrid


Origins of the war

The Spanish military 

Barcelona contests

  • Barcelona in the First World War
  • Michael Eaude. Barcelona; the city that reinvented itself. The best introduction by far on the modern history of  Barcelona. A very entertaining and illuminating read. Mike’s overview Catalonia: a cultural history is also highly recommended. Both books offer fascinating blend of history, art, culture and travel.
  • Robert Hughes. Barcelona His seminal and wonderful Barcelona ends rather disappointingly without much in the way of conclusion in around 1910.
  • Joan Ganau: Invention and Authenticity in Barcelona’s Barri Gótic (Graduate School of Architecture, 2006)

Catalan presidents Macià and Companys and Second Spanish Republic

  • Attempt by Macìa to declare a Catalan Republic in 1931 (Wikipedia). His successor, Lluís Companys, the president of Catalonia during the war was later shot by the Franco regime in Montjúic castle in October 1940. (Wikipedia)
  • Declaration of the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 (Wikipedia)

Ideological differences on the Left in Catalonia 

(please also see your info sheet after the tour)


  • A Very Short Introduction to Anarchism Recommended primer. For those who want to go further in, see Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall
  • Chris Ealham. Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Barcelona, 1898-1937, Very well researched radical history of the city and anarchism. Essential reading if you are interested in the revolution in Barcelona. Available as book or online for free here.
  • VIDEO. Classic anarchist documentary about the Spanish revolution. Living Utopia (ÝouTube)        

Defeat of coup in Barcelona and development across Spain

  • 18-19 July the coup is defeated in Barcelona by worker militias and loyal police units. Workers get hold of 10,000s of arms.
  • The war as the result of a half failed coup. For section of Britain’s establishment’s role in the coup See Franco’s Friends (2011) by Daily Telegraph journalist Peter Day

The People’s Olympiad

Social Revolution

George Orwell

Anticlericalism and violence on Republican side v Francoist violence

  • Photos of anticlerical violence
  • The Franco regime as a state of fear; the Transition, SCW and politics of memory today, discussion of historical memory around the world
  • For more on the violence we would recommend Paul Preston’s The Spanish Holocaust. A harrowing read from the world’s leading expert on the war, and possibly Preston’s crowning achievement, charting the barbarity on both sides but highlighting the difference between popular violence on the Republican side with the state sanctioned terror unleashed by Franco’s rebels.

The militias

Aerial bombing

1937 May Days

Art and culture


Graphic Novels

  • Los surcos del azar (By Paco Roca, The Furrows of Chance). Tells the moving and heroic tale of the Spaniards who helped liberate Paris. Review in English from The Volunteer)


  • Land and Freedom – Ken Loach
  • Butterfly’s Tongue (La lengua de las mariposas)- José Luis Cuerda
  • Soldiers of Salamis (Soldados de Salamina) – David Trueba
  • The Blind Sunflowers (Los girasoles ciegos) – José Luis Cuerda

Photography and journalism


There are numerous books in Spanish on the role of women but relatively few in English

International humanitarian aid

The International Brigades and role of different states






New Zealand and Australia

Continental Europe

Latin America


Battle of the Ebro 

  • Wikipedia
  • Ebro battle tours: Alan Warren: Alan also offers interesting Civil War tours in Barcelona. He is probably the biggest expert on the International Brigades on the ground
  • Web: Email:.
  • Ebro Battle museum and sites: Excellent museum in Corbera d’Ebre (also essential for old town ruined by battle). Their site is in English (click on ENG)  and has loads of info with maps on individual battle sites (see “historic sites”):  There are several other SCW museums in the area which form a network (see web).

Fall of Barcelona, Catalonia and the Republic


Exile and camps in France

Spanish Republicans in the Second World War

Spanish Republicans in the Nazi camps

Individual participants

Other books

  • Giles Tremlett. Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past The best introduction to contemporary Spain with an interesting discussion on the how the Civil War still affects the county today, but also with insightful and at times amusing chapters on topics such as children, flamenco and sex. Good chapter too on Catalonia. Written by The Guardian correspondent to Spain.
  • Jason Webster: Guerra: Living in the shadows of the Spanish Civil War. His other books including Duende: A journey in search of Flamenco (2003) are also recommended.
  • Paddy Woodworth: The Basque Country: a cultural history. Fascinating and well-written account of this complex land. 

Other Barcelona tours

  • General Tours in Barcelona: tip-funded, passionate, excellent: Web
  • Private official guide: Dan Wilde – knowledgeable and fun with access to official sites as a guide Email:
  • Barcelona Food Tours: Both delicious and recommended: or
  • And for a bit more off the beaten track, great foodie explorations in the neighbourhood of Gràcia:
  • Food tours in Madrid: These people know their stuff. Check out their excellent website