Cover image for Arms for Spain : the untold story of the Spanish Civil War
Arms for Spain : the untold story of the Spanish Civil War
Howson, Gerald.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 354 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DP269.8.E68 H68 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



When military officers rebelled against the left-wing Spanish Republic in 1936, the leaders of Europe called for an international arms embargo against Spain, in the hopes of preventing escalation. Yet this embargo was regularly flouted for Franco's rebels, giving them an enormous advantage.Arms for Spain tells the story, for the first time, of how the Republic was thus obliged to buy illegal arms from foreign officials who extorted huge bribes for arms they never delivered. Banks and arms traffickers also swindled the Spanish government, often sending arms that were entirely unusable. Howson shows that Russia, long believed to be the Republic's strongest supporter, was in fact the worst offender of all.A major contribution to our understanding of both European politics of the 1930s and the Spanish Civil War, this is a powerful account of one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

A contributing factor in the defeat of the Loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War was foreign intervention. While rebel forces received substantial arms and even military forces from Fascist Italy and Germany, republican Loyalists were limited to sporadic military aid from the Soviet Union and the questionable military value of various international brigades. Immediately after World War II, most historians viewed inaction by France and Britain as classic appeasement, which emboldened German and Italian aggressive actions elsewhere in Europe. Since the 1950s, a growing school of revisionists has cast this inaction as justified by British and French unpreparedness; furthermore, many revisionists assert that the Loyalists had ample military resources to defeat the rebels. Howson, clearly strongly sympathetic to the Loyalist cause, effectively counters these revisionist arguments, which he views as ideologically tainted and based on distorted data. While hardly a balanced work, this is still a valuable contribution to an ongoing historical debate. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

Tracking an astonishing litany of failed arms deals, military historian Howson (Aircraft of the Spanish Civil War) offers up a fresh and surprising argument: the Spanish Civil War's outcome may have been decided by the Republican government's inability to obtain arms and airplanes. As soon as the war started, apparently, every arms dealer in the world set out to scam and swindle the Republicans, selling them worn-out aircraft and antique rifles (without ammunition) at exorbitant prices. Even supposedly friendly governments, like the Soviets, bilked the Spanish. Howson tells his story with relish; the quantity of double-dealing would be farcical if so much death and anguish were not involved. A good complement to a general history of the war, like Burnett Bolloten's The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution (LJ 2/1/91); recommended for academic and larger public libraries.ÄBob Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.