Cover image for Juan Carlos : steering Spain from dictatorship to democracy
Juan Carlos : steering Spain from dictatorship to democracy
Preston, Paul, 1946-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, 2004.
Physical Description:
ix, 614 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Great Britain: HarperCollins, 2004, under the title Jaun Carlos: a people's king.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DP272.4.J8 P738 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Paul Preston, the author of the definitive biography Franco, explores the political and personal mysteries of the Spanish monarch's life in Juan Carlos, a story of unprecedented sweep and exquisite detail. Handed over to the Franco regime as a young boy, Juan Carlos was raised according to authoritarian traditions designed to make him a cornerstone of the dictatorship. How then did he later emerge as an emphatic defender of the democracy that began to form after Franco's death? In his peerless voice, Preston provides the details necessary to answer this central question, examining the king's troubled relationship with his father and his vital work in consolidating parliamentary democracy in Spain. What begins as the story of one monarch becomes at once a history of modern Spain and an indispensable exegesis of how democracies come to be.

Author Notes

Paul Preston is Principe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History at the London School of Economics.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kinguan Carlos of Spain is a hero. He has created an effective--no, vital--place for the monarchy in Spanish politics and national life at a time in European history when the institution of monarchy is somewhat on the wane. Preston, author of the definitive Franco (1994), supplies a much-needed, serious, comprehensive, and absolutely dynamic biography of el rey, impressively researched and deeply probing--not only intouan Carlos the character and king but also into recent Spanish history, which is the necessary context for understanding the king's life. Two major points are stressed here in effecting such an understanding:uan Carlos was raised from boyhood with one purpose, to help regain for the Borbon royal house the throne left vacant in 1931 by the establishment of the Spanish republic; and, once installed as king upon the demise of the seemingly everlasting dictator Franco,uan Carlos was determined that the restored monarchy would function as the force for democracy in the newly opened up, post-Franco Spain. What is learned here is thatuan Carlos' long march to the throne was most certainly not an easy journey, but the king's adeptness at performing as a constitutional monarch has been the primary factor in bringing Spain the political security it enjoys today. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ever since the Middle Ages, Spanish history has been a deeply polemical field. Preston, professor of international history at the London School of Economics, is one of a coterie of English-speaking historians of Spain whose reputation for objectivity has gained them intense admiration among the Spanish public. Following his definitive biography of the dictator Franco, Preston now turns his attention to the man Franco chose to perpetuate his repressive regime, the grandson of King Alfonso XIII. Juan Carlos, with his soldierly temperament and his taste for women and fast cars, was widely perceived as Franco's stooge and an intellectual mediocrity. Preston, however, a self-confessed pragmatist, is thoroughly sympathetic, presenting his subject as an intelligent patriot, repeatedly sacrificing personal happiness in long-term pursuit of democracy. In the pivotal years after Franco's death in 1975, Juan Carlos pacified the left, legalizing the Communist Party and bringing the socialists around to the cause of a constitutional monarchy. At the same time, the king desperately attempted to limit the fallout from attacks by the Basque terrorist group ETA and partially defused the threat of military conspiracy. While unable to avoid the attempted coup of 1981, he was, in Preston's view, undoubtedly instrumental in its failure, preventing a bloodbath and a second civil war. The warmth of Preston's respect for the king will be a surprise to some, but is well supported by the evidence in this exhaustive and compelling book, which should be read by anyone with an interest in contemporary Europe. 16 pages of illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A logical step for this London School of Economics historian after Franco. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 In Search of a Lost Crown 1931-1948p. 1
2 A Pawn Sacrificed 1949-1955p. 52
3 The Tribulations of a Young Soldier 1955-1960p. 95
4 A Life Under Surveillance 1960-1966p. 148
5 The Winning Post in Sight 1967-1969p. 205
6 Under Suspicion 1969-1974p. 249
7 Taking Over 1974-1976p. 301
8 The Gamble 1976-1977p. 354
9 More Responsibility, Less Power: the Crown and golpismo 1977-1980p. 397
10 Fighting for Democracy 1980-1981p. 444
11 Living in the Long Shadow of Success 1981-2002p. 489
Bibliographyp. 521
Notesp. 545
Indexp. 595
Illustrationsp. 613