cover image Tomorrow Perhaps the Future: Writers, Outsiders, and the Spanish Civil War

Tomorrow Perhaps the Future: Writers, Outsiders, and the Spanish Civil War

Sarah Watling. Knopf, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-31966-6

In this brilliantly conceived study, historian Watling (The Olivier Sisters) spotlights international writers, artists, and activists who opposed the fascist takeover of Spain in the 1930s, arguing that the conflict drew in individuals who conceived of themselves as outside the mainstream. Watling sees the Spanish Civil War as a flash point when “people from all walks of life,” and especially artists, understood the conflict “as a question, a provocation that demanded an answer,” which as outsiders they were primed to provide. Watling’s most prominent profile subjects are women—Nancy Cunard, Martha Gellhorn, Josephine Herbst, and Sylvia Townsend are among the most well-known. Other memorable outsiders include Jewish photojournalist Gerda Taro, who documented the plight of Spanish refugees with fellow photographer Robert Capa before she was killed in action, and African American nurse and memoirist Salaria Kea, whose dedicated service at a hospital outside Madrid “reawakened” the idealism of poet Langston Hughes when he visited the facility in the fall of 1937. Digging deep into the archives to resurface overlooked stories, Watling skillfully traces the motivations that led so many different people to make the extraordinary decision to fight fascism. The result is both an essential take on the Spanish Civil War and a stirring reflection on personal responsibilities in times of crisis. (May)