Hell and Good Company

The Spanish Civil War and the World it Made

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About The Book

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning and bestselling author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, “The most extraordinary book about the Spanish Civil War ever encountered” (The Washington Post).

The Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) inspired and haunted an extraordinary number of exceptional artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and John Dos Passos. The idealism of the cause—defending democracy from fascism at a time when Europe was darkening toward another world war—and the brutality of the conflict inspired some of their best work: Guernica, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Homage to Catalonia, The Spanish Earth.

The war spurred breakthroughs in military and medical technology as well. New aircraft, new weapons, new tactics and strategy all emerged during this time. Progress arose from the horror: the doctors and nurses who volunteered to serve with the Spanish defenders devised major advances in battlefield surgery and frontline blood transfusion. In those ways, and in many others, the Spanish Civil War served as a test bed for World War II, and for the entire twentieth century.

From the life of John James Audubon to the invention of the atomic bomb, readers have long relied on Richard Rhodes to explain, distill, and dramatize crucial moments in history. Now, he takes us into battlefields and bomb shelters, into the studios of artists, into the crowded wards of war hospitals, and into the hearts and minds of a rich cast of characters to show how the ideological, aesthetic, and technological developments that emerged in Spain and changed the world forever. “Hell and Good Company is vivid and emotive…thrilling reading” (The Wall Street Journal).

About The Author

Photograph by Nancy Warner

Richard Rhodes is the author of numerous books and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He graduated from Yale University and has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Appearing as host and correspondent for documentaries on public television’s Frontline and American Experience series, he has also been a visiting scholar at Harvard and MIT and is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Visit his website: RichardRhodes.com

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 3, 2015)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451696233

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Raves and Reviews

“[A]n interesting collection of observations on an iconic war that the good guys lost but which produced important cultural and therapeutic advances.”

– Kirkus

“[A] vivid look at how the desperate struggle appeared to participants.”

– Publishers Weekly

"It is through the lives and works of individuals involved in this wasteful conflict [The Spanish Civil War] that Rhodes so graphically allows contemporary readers to appreciate all the nuances of what transpired in Spain in those dark years."

– Booklist (starred)

“Readers unfamiliar with the Spanish Civil War will discover the tragicomic experiences and human costs of Europe’s first war against fascism.”

– Library Journal

Hell and Good Company is characteristically pacy, vivid and emotive. It reliably conveys the conflict’s broad outlines for those who know nothing about the bloody 1936-39 war between the leftist Republican government and the insurgent Nationalist forces of Francisco Franco, while adding enough well-sourced fresh material to interest those more familiar with its horrors… Mr. Rhodes succeeds in re-animating familiar scenarios. His solidly researched account of the initially hesitant, even reluctant gestation of Picasso’s “Guernica,” in particular, makes thrilling reading.”

– Wall Street Journal

"[An] informed and elegant narrative"

– The Economist

“Rhodes, a Pulitzer Prize winner, always has a provocative perspective. His new book proves no exception. He skillfully explores the Spanish Civil War, dropping names such as Picasso and Hemingway along the way. His goal: to make us grasp this terrible conflict. He succeeds.”

– AARP Magazine

“[S]ublime... The most extraordinary book about the Spanish Civil War I’ve ever encountered. His subject is not the war itself but the tremors it produced, the feelings it evoked and the terrible horror it begat. He masterfully extracts huge meaning from small shards of conflict.”

– Washington Post

"A vivid, wrenching view of war, art and love."

– Shelf Awareness

"[A]ccessible and memorable"

– Washington Times

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