Franco: A Biography

Paul Preston, Author
Paul Preston, Author Basic Books $37.5 (1002p) ISBN 978-0-465-02515-2
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Hardcover - 1024 pages - 978-0-465-02516-9
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Preston's definitive, gripping biography of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, ``the least known of the great dictators of the twentieth century,'' penetrates the wall of secrecy, propaganda and myths surrounding the fascist demagogue. A brutal tyrant who silenced his opponents with imprisonment, torture and executions and thereby paralyzed the masses with fear, Franco (1892-1975) hid behind a series of masks-desert hero commanding the Spanish Legion in Morocco; modern El Cid during the Civil War, defending the Catholic faith and restoring Spain's national greatness; benevolent patriarch. Moreover, Franco, a cunning politician of startlingly mediocre intellect, deeply believed in these personas, often denied he was a dictator, and ascribed domestic working-class and left-liberal opposition to the machinations of foreign Communist or Masonic elements. Professor of international history at the London School of Economics, Preston demolishes claims by admirers and apologists that the generalissimo skillfully held off Hitler to preserve Spain's neutrality; instead, he shows that Hitler's unwillingness to promise France's colonies to Spain led to a stalemate between the two dictators. By the late 1950s, Preston maintains, Franco was increasingly a figurehead who reluctantly acquiesced in Spain's technocratic turn to capitalism. Photos. (Nov.)
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