Spain's Cause Was Mine: A Memoir of an American Medic in the Spanish Civil War

Hank Rubin, Author, Peter N. Carroll, Foreword by
Hank Rubin, Author, Peter N. Carroll, Foreword by Southern Illinois University Press $30 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8093-2159-9
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-8093-2317-3
Ebook - 185 pages - 978-0-585-31088-6
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Rubin's decision to join the International Brigades in the Spanish civil war was impulsive. Approached by the ""campus Red"" while a student at UCLA in 1937, he agreed to fight General Franco's forces with little idea of what he was getting into. Looking back, Rubin, now a San Francisco restaurateur, writer and wine critic, analyzes the combination of factors that prompted him to go: sympathy for Leftist politics, a Jewish awareness of fascism's dangers, the idea that ""going to war seemed to me a step into manhood."" The first half of this memoir describes the challenges of reaching Spain at a time when Americans were forbidden to enter the country (including an overnight hike through the Pyrenees). The best chapters are those that recount the challenges of training with a low-budget, multinational army, from wearing used clothes complete with repaired bullet holes to patrolling towns with unloaded guns because of artillery shortages. A bout of jaundice led Rubin out of combat and into the medical corps, where he was at the forefront of rapid changes in emergency medical treatment. Rubin is an accessible narrator who doesn't shrink from describing his awkward sexual experiences or the digestive discomforts of army life. But his writing rarely rises beyond a simple recounting of events, and much of the latter part of the book is devoted to an uncompelling account of his laboratory work. Overall, however, this memoir gives an effective general introduction to the Spanish civil war. 5 b&w photos. (Dec.)
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