With a foreword by Jon Snow. In July 1936 insurgent Spanish troops organized a military coup to oust the elected Republican government in Madrid. The rebel generals expected to force a quick, clean regime change but they failed. The botched uprising turned into a bloody civil war. Hundreds of thousands died in a bitter conflict which tore the country apart and rapidly turned into the prelude for an even greater conflict yet to com--the Second World War. The siege of Madrid was the key battle of the war. The world watched and waited for the city to surrender as General Franco's Nationalist army, backed by Hitler and Mussolini, closed in on the Spanish capital. But Madrid did not fall. Madrilenos fought tooth and nail to defend their city. Helped by volunteers from fifty other countries--the International Brigades--they held out against all the odds until the end of the conflict in 1939. Despite its central role in twentieth-century history, the siege of Madrid is an episode largely hidden from today's visitor. There is no guide to the war sites and few clues for the inquisitive traveller who wants to know more. Frontline Madrid fills that gap.
This unique guide book explains what life was like in the city under siege and what happened in the battlefield dramas. The simple to follow maps and diagrams make it easy to visit the frontline sites. The vividly written descriptions bring events and people compellingly to life. The role of prominent individuals, British and American--Orwell, Hemingway, John Cornford - is explored. Off the beaten track, from the University district in the city centre to the mountains of Guadarrama less than an hour away, the remains of the war in Madrid can still be found--gun emplacements, bunkers, trenches and occasional debris. Frontline Madrid retraces the footsteps of those who lived through the conflict to take the reader on a tour in time. The usual tourist traps are left far behind to enter the gripping world of a war which shaped modern European history.
David Mathieson has lived and worked in Madrid for more than 15 years. He is the founder of Spanishsites.org, an educational project which organizes tours of the battlefield sites described in this book. For many years David was Special Advisor the late Robin Cook, the former British Foreign Secretary.