Ghosts of Spain Travels through Spain and its silent past

Giles Tremlett

Book - 2007

The edge of a barber's razor -- Secretos a voces -- Looking for the generalisimo -- Amnisita and amnesia: the pact of forgetting -- How the bikini saved Spain -- Anarchy, order and a real pair of balls -- The mean streets of Flamenco -- Clubs and curas -- Men and children first -- II-M: Moros y Cristianos -- In the shadow of the serpent and the axe -- The madness of Verdaguer -- Coffins, Celts and clothes -- Moderns and ruins.

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New York : Walker & Co. : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck 2007.
1st U.S. ed
Item Description
Originally published: London : Faber and Faber, 2006.
Physical Description
386 p. ; 25 cm
Includes index.
Main Author
Giles Tremlett (-)
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Tremlett (Madrid correspondent, the Guardian ), a 20-year resident of Spain, takes a hard look at modern life in that country, delivering a provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter. This is not the picture-postcard Spain of colorful fiestas, sandy white beaches, and tapas bars. This Spain tolerates corrupt government officials, is overwhelmed by hoards of tourists and uncontrolled development along its once pristine coastline, and is unwilling to address the atrocities of the civil war and Franco's oppressive regime. Even so, Tremlett is clearly caught up in the romance that is Spain. His search for authentic flamenco takes him to a prison and the barrios of Seville, and he is intrigued by the differences among the people in Spain's many regions, although his enthusiasm for Basque cooking is somewhat tempered by the possibility that its best chefs may be paying protection money to Basque separatists. This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture.—Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams [Page 140]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An odyssey through Spain's painful recent past examines the causes and consequences of the Spanish Civil War, as well as its repercussions in the lives of modern-day Spaniards, and offers observations on other elements of Spanish life.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An eloquent odyssey through Spain's dark history journeys into the heart of the Spanish Civil War to examine the causes and consequences of a painful recent past, as well as its repercussions in terms of the discovery of mass graves containing victims of Franco's death squads and the lives of modern-day Spaniards. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Spaniards are reputed to be amongst Europe's most voluble people. So why have they kept silent about the terrors of the Spanish Civil War? The appearance, sixty years after that war ended, of mass graves containing victims of Franco's death squads has finally broken what Spaniards call 'the pact of forgetting'. As these graves were dug up, Giles Tremlett embarked on a journey around Spain - and through its recent past.Spanish history, Tremlett discovered, was a tinder-box of disagreements. Why do Basque terrorists kill? Why do Catalans hate Madrid? Did the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dream of a return to Spain's Moorish past? The ghosts of the past were everywhere.Tremlett's journey was also an attempt to make sense of his personal experience of Spaniards. Do they prefer anarchy or order? When do they sleep? How had women embraced feminism without men noticing? What binds gypsies, jails and flamenco? Why do Spaniards go to plastic surgeons, donate their organs, visit brothels or take cocaine more than any other Europeans? Finding answers to those questions involved travelling some strange and colourful byroads.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The appearance, more than sixty years after the Spanish Civil War ended, of mass graves containing victims of Francisco Franco's death squads finally broke what Spaniards call "the pact of forgetting"—the unwritten understanding that their recent, painful past was best left unexplored. At this charged moment, Giles Tremlett embarked on a journey around the country and through its history to discover why some of Europe's most voluble people have kept silent so long. Ghosts of Spain is the fascinating result of that journey. In elegant and passionate prose, Tremlett unveils the tinderbox of disagreements that mark the country today. Delving into such emotional questions as who caused the Civil War, why Basque terrorists kill, why Catalans hate Madrid, and whether the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dreamed of a return to Spain's Moorish past, Tremlett finds the ghosts of the past everywhere. At the same time, he offers trenchant observations on more quotidian aspects of Spanish life today: the reasons, for example, Spaniards dislike authority figures, but are cowed by a doctor's white coat, and how women have embraced feminism without men noticing. Drawing on the author's twenty years of experience living in Spain, Ghosts of Spain is a revelatory book about one of Europe's most exciting countries.