The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of José Robles by Stephen Koch; Guerra! Living in the Shadows of the Spanish Civil War by Jason Webster - review by Frank Fairfield

Frank Fairfield

For Whom The Bell Tolls

The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of José Robles

By

Robson Books 308pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Guerra! Living in the Shadows of the Spanish Civil War

By

Doubleday 294pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

In his 1943 essay 'Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War', George Orwell wrote: 'I think we will come to see that Stalin's policy in Spain, which we now regard as so devilishly clever, was merely stupid and opportunistic.’ Orwell's interest in Stalin and Spain, of course, was more than merely academic: crossing the Soviet dictator's Spanish stooges had almost cost Orwell his life, and decisively altered his politics. Animal Farm and 1984 were the bitter fruits of Orwell's Spanish sojourn. When he wrote in the latter novel, 'If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever', it was probably the face of one of his comrades in Spain, Bob Smillie, of which he was thinking. (Smillie was kicked to death in a Stalinist secret prison.)

Both these searing books are concerned with the long shadows thrown by the Civil War. The Breaking Point explores the fate of another victim of Stalin, and the Spanish experiences of another great literary name: Ernest Hemingway. It is one of those rare books

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter