Two Civil Wars: America and Spain contrasted

In July 2011, I returned from a four week trip to Spain and Portugal, where I was conducting research for my sequel historical novel to Beyond Ultra. I have titled the sequel Valhalla Revealed. If you have already read Beyond Ultra, you will understand the sequel title and should be tantalized by the possibilities. I will update periodically on my progress but my target publishing date is spring 2012.

Lest I get ahead of myself, I will note that Beyond Ultra was rated five stars out of five(!) by the well known ForeWord Clarion Review book review service click here to see the review. In addition, check out the fabulous promotional video for Beyond Ultra, nicely produced by CreateSpace, my publisher.

While in Spain, I was struck by the contrasts between the Spanish Civil War, which was a central event in Beyond Ultra, not to mention in Spain, and the American Civil War. In 2011, America is very visibly "celebrating" the 150th anniversary of the beginning of that conflict, complete with re-reenactments, new books, and of course revisionist history. It seems that after a century and a half, some revisionists still cling to the belief that the war was about states rights when, in fact, it was fundamentally about human rights for America's black population, enslaved in the American South.

It has been only half as long, 75 years, since the Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and my sense is that the Spanish people are only now ready to revisit that tragedy and open up old wounds. That war was fundamentally a war about ideology, but had its origins in economic turmoil and class differences deeply rooted in Spanish society. When the Spanish monarchy fell in 1931, it was replaced by a Republic that, between 1931-1936, could not improve the economic picture. The social and political upheaval, however, was enough to trigger a devastating three year conflict that shattered an already weak economy. The victorious Nationalists, led by Francisco Franco and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, have been attacked ever since, but the real story is much more complex. The opposing Republican government was supported by the communist Stalin-led Soviet Union. Both sides were guilty of many atrocities. The western democracies refused to become involved. That may be understandable for the then isolationist America, but it is harder to comprehend Great Britain's and France's apathy.

During my stay in Spain I had the privilege of meeting Antonio de Oyarzabal, Spain's ambassador to the United States during the Clinton Administration. Ambassador Oyarzabal began his diplomatic career in the 1960's and was involved in the transition to independence for Spanish Guinea in Africa. Needless to say, he has provided some important background on Spanish Guinea that will figure prominently in Valhalla Revealed.

The rest of my trip was also productive by, for example, providing important information on "spy settings" in places like little known Lisbon hotels. In future blogs, I will refer to some of this information when I describe historical events that took place in Spain and Portugal between 1940 and 1975, and how it affected my fictional Hoffman and Ortega families as they continue to confront the challenges of the mid-twentieth century. 

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