'Perfidious Albion' and the Spanish Civil War

Post date: 29/02/2024

The latest book by Paul Preston, the foremost historian of the Spanish Civil War, turns the spotlight on Britain’s crucial but often overlooked involvement in the war.

‘Perfidious Albion’: Britain and the Spanish Civil War, brings together a collection of essays by Preston, who is the Founding Chair of the IBMT and a great supporter of the Trust’s activities. It will be published by The Clapton Press on 21 March.

The first part of the book focuses on the hypocrisy of British foreign policy towards the Spanish Republic. It was a policy that was greatly influenced by right-wing diplomats Norman King and Sir Henry Chilton and played a decisive part – along with the help that Franco received from Hitler and Mussolini – in the defeat of the Spanish Republic.

In sharp contrast, part two discusses the selfless contribution and humanitarian efforts of medical personnel from across the globe, including many doctors and nurses from Britain, Ireland and Commonwealth countries.

Among those whose contributions are described in detail are Len Crome, Reggie Saxton, TC Worsley and the Canadian Hazen Size and Norman Bethune.

Part three assesses the influence of four prominent ‘writer-historians’, George Orwell, Herbert Southworth, Burnett Bolloten and Gerald Brenan, on British perceptions of the Spanish Civil War.

In the case of Orwell, author of the Spanish Civil War memoir ‘Homage to Catalonia’, Preston concludes that the Englishman was a great writer, but an unreliable guide to events that took place in Spain.

‘Perfidious Albion’ is sure to be essential reading for anyone interested in a comprehensive and fascinating look at the influences that shaped British foreign policy and attitudes towards Spain at a critical time in its history.

See a review in the Morning Star.

Order a copy of the book from The Clapton Press

IBMT logo

Support our work

You can support the IBMT by joining us or affiliating your union branch – see details and membership forms here:
menuchevron-up linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram