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EMNs Reactionary Reader: Franco, a Personal and Political Biography by Stanley G Payne and Jesús Palacios

EMNofSeattle

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I am writing to review Franco: a Personal and Political Biography by Stanley G Payne.

Stanley Payne is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a recognized Hispanist and expert on European fascism as well as history of Spain. He's written extensively on the Spanish Civil War as well as on Spanish history generally. Jesús Palacios is a historian and investigative journalist and adjunct professor at the University of Madrid in Spain. Their book Franco is a very well researched book, about 520 pages minus sources and footnotes. The book also contains extensive personal information from interviews from Francisco Franco's now late daughter Maria Carmen Franco y Polo ("Carmencita") as well as interviews with the Francisco Franco foundation, pieced together with historical information and investigation of the dictator's life and leadership.

The book is generally linear for the first several chapters, beginning with Franco's birth, upbringing, entrance and graduation from the Military Academy, and his early war service in Morocco, for the rest of the book the organization is linear in time generally but also by topic and so one chapter may discuss Franco's foreign policy for a certain set of years, then the next his domestic policy in the same time frame. Payne claims the book is not a positive depiction of Franco, but merely a neutral one, however given how much Franco is lied about by lying leftists any neutral treatment of Franco makes him look like the Hero he is and therefore I cannot recommend this book enough. The book for example slays the sacred cow of the Guernica bombing, showing it was a justifiable military strike on a military target that killed very few people and the western allies routinely killed more civilians in bombings during World War 2, it also contrasts the lying lefts open support for genocide by communist regimes in Yugoslavia and Cambodia versus unjustified criticism for the execution of proven war criminals by the Spanish state, like the execution of Julian Grimau, who was a communist war criminal of the Spanish republic responsible for many killings and torture in the Republican zone (pp 405-6)

Broadly speaking the book talks about how Franco grew up close to his mother, his father was a Naval officer who was unfaithful to Franco's mother, causing Franco to become devoutly Catholic, Franco would never cheat on his wife and was a quality father to his daughter his whole life because of this, but Franco grew up devout, he was sickly and a small man with a high pitched voice, but he excelled in the military academy and fought in Morocco with distinction, taking only the most dangerous assignments.

His participation in the Civil war came only after mass persecution of his beloved church, political assasinations by the Spanish Republic, and the violence of the left who used violence to rig elections, target political opponents, and destroy property. the leaders of the Republic of Spain did nothing to stop this. The book details how President Alcala-Zamora was too weak to stand up to the left, then when he was replaced by Manuel Azaña who wanted to provoke a civil war so the left could impose a socialist regime. This led to the civil war of 1936 to 39. The book also describes the Franco regime and shows evidence for how political repression in Spain under Franco was far less then the supposedly democratic republic he overthrew, and far less then left wing regimes of the era. In fact the regime was not totalitarian in many meaningful way.

It does detail Franco's complicated relationship with Hitler, and his willingness to back Hitler during World War 2, however Franco was not a racial supremacist and before the details of the final solution were revealed Franco had already backed off of backing Hitler and was providing support more and more to the British and Americans. Franco keeping his country out of the war allowed Spain to recover from the civil war. Also an interesting tidbit, Franco advised numerous American presidents not to get involved In the Vietnam war. too bad Franco couldn't lead America.

Given the distortions Americans get about this episode in history, this book is a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend it.

5/5

I’m going to make my reading reviews a regular feature, next week will be Crime and Punishment punishment, or maybe the weekend after that since despite being accused of being a Russian, I am not in fact a Russian and have to slog through English translation of this very slow book.
 
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Chomsky

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I am writing to review Franco: a Personal and Political Biography by Stanley G Payne.

Stanley Payne is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a recognized Hispanist and expert on European fascism as well as history of Spain. He's written extensively on the Spanish Civil War as well as on Spanish history generally. Jesús Palacios is a historian and investigative journalist and adjunct professor at the University of Madrid in Spain. Their book Franco is a very well researched book, about 520 pages minus sources and footnotes. The book also contains extensive personal information from interviews from Francisco Franco's now late daughter Maria Carmen Franco y Polo ("Carmencita") as well as interviews with the Francisco Franco foundation, pieced together with historical information and investigation of the dictator's life and leadership.

The book is generally linear for the first several chapters, beginning with Franco's birth, upbringing, entrance and graduation from the Military Academy, and his early war service in Morocco, for the rest of the book the organization is linear in time generally but also by topic and so one chapter may discuss Franco's foreign policy for a certain set of years, then the next his domestic policy in the same time frame. Payne claims the book is not a positive depiction of Franco, but merely a neutral one, however given how much Franco is lied about by lying leftists any neutral treatment of Franco makes him look like the Hero he is and therefore I cannot recommend this book enough. The book for example slays the sacred cow of the Guernica bombing, showing it was a justifiable military strike on a military target that killed very few people and the western allies routinely killed more civilians in bombings during World War 2, it also contrasts the lying lefts open support for genocide by communist regimes in Yugoslavia and Cambodia versus unjustified criticism for the execution of proven war criminals by the Spanish state, like the execution of Julian Grimau, who was a communist war criminal of the Spanish republic responsible for many killings and torture in the Republican zone (pp 405-6)

Broadly speaking the book talks about how Franco grew up close to his mother, his father was a Naval officer who was unfaithful to Franco's mother, causing Franco to become devoutly Catholic, Franco would never cheat on his wife and was a quality father to his daughter his whole life because of this, but Franco grew up devout, he was sickly and a small man with a high pitched voice, but he excelled in the military academy and fought in Morocco with distinction, taking only the most dangerous assignments.

His participation in the Civil war came only after mass persecution of his beloved church, political assasinations by the Spanish Republic, and the violence of the left who used violence to rig elections, target political opponents, and destroy property. the leaders of the Republic of Spain did nothing to stop this. The book details how President Alcala-Zamora was too weak to stand up to the left, then when he was replaced by Manuel Azaña who wanted to provoke a civil war so the left could impose a socialist regime. This led to the civil war of 1936 to 39. The book also describes the Franco regime and shows evidence for how political repression in Spain under Franco was far less then the supposedly democratic republic he overthrew, and far less then left wing regimes of the era. In fact the regime was not totalitarian in many meaningful way.

It does detail Franco's complicated relationship with Hitler, and his willingness to back Hitler during World War 2, however Franco was not a racial supremacist and before the details of the final solution were revealed Franco had already backed off of backing Hitler and was providing support more and more to the British and Americans. Franco keeping his country out of the war allowed Spain to recover from the civil war. Also an interesting tidbit, Franco advised numerous American presidents not to get involved In the Vietnam war. too bad Franco couldn't lead America.

Given the distortions Americans get about this episode in history, this book is a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend it.

5/5

I’m going to make my reading reviews a regular feature, next week will be Crime and Punishment punishment, or maybe the weekend after that since despite being accused of being a Russian, I am not in fact a Russian and have to slog through English translation of this very slow book.
Thanks for the review. As always, I'm sure Franco is more complex than wide historical brushes paint him. But he was a little too cosy with the Axis Powers, for my liking.
 

EMNofSeattle

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Thanks for the review. As always, I'm sure Franco is more complex than wide historical brushes paint him. But he was a little too cosy with the Axis Powers, for my liking.
In one sense yes, but on the other hand, I’m willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt for supporting the Germans before the atrocities were well known. This was an era of change in Europe and many of the fascist movements were very different and only tenuously linked by a fear of communism (not unjustified).

So in Spain the actual Fascist party (the Falange) was mainly a party unified by Latin nationalism and industrial socialism, the actual fascists in Spain spoke of a master Spanish race which explicitly included mixed race people in Latin America. The Falangists were a minority of Francos’s support which mainly came from the monarchists and the rural areas. Franco supported Hitler early mainly because of the support the Germans provided in the civil war (countered by international socialist and Soviet support for the Republic) however Spain allowed Jews to flee German territory through Spain and Spanish Morocco which was home to a large Jewish population Jews openly lived as Jews. Spanish authorities never assisted in the “final solution”, unlike many in Eastern Europe and Vichy France.

I do wonder if Hitler never came to power if fascism would be a legitimate political belief today, the exposure of the evils of the Nazi regime and collapse of Italy led to Spain purging the fascists out of the Franco regime and Franco always wanted a National Catholic regime anyway. I would agree the Axis Powers were not the right side to back, but it’s not like we didn’t benefit by stealing their scientists and weapons development for our own usage too. We got very cozy with many former Nazi officials not long after.

Hitler really despised Franco, Franco didn’t much care for him either, it’s an example of the types of bad relationships that get built often in wars.
It’s a complicated world.
 

Chomsky

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In one sense yes, but on the other hand, I’m willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt for supporting the Germans before the atrocities were well known. This was an era of change in Europe and many of the fascist movements were very different and only tenuously linked by a fear of communism (not unjustified).

So in Spain the actual Fascist party (the Falange) was mainly a party unified by Latin nationalism and industrial socialism, the actual fascists in Spain spoke of a master Spanish race which explicitly included mixed race people in Latin America. The Falangists were a minority of Francos’s support which mainly came from the monarchists and the rural areas. Franco supported Hitler early mainly because of the support the Germans provided in the civil war (countered by international socialist and Soviet support for the Republic) however Spain allowed Jews to flee German territory through Spain and Spanish Morocco which was home to a large Jewish population Jews openly lived as Jews. Spanish authorities never assisted in the “final solution”, unlike many in Eastern Europe and Vichy France.

I do wonder if Hitler never came to power if fascism would be a legitimate political belief today, the exposure of the evils of the Nazi regime and collapse of Italy led to Spain purging the fascists out of the Franco regime and Franco always wanted a National Catholic regime anyway. I would agree the Axis Powers were not the right side to back, but it’s not like we didn’t benefit by stealing their scientists and weapons development for our own usage too. We got very cozy with many former Nazi officials not long after.

Hitler really despised Franco, Franco didn’t much care for him either, it’s an example of the types of bad relationships that get built often in wars.
It’s a complicated world.
Great & detailed post! Yeah, I think we need to remember that militarily deficient countries like Spain had to walk a fine line for survival. They were stuck between a rock & a hard place! And yeah, Frqnco wanted a National Catholic Church, and he greatly supported the Church.
 
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