I have long admired Gerald Howson for his dogged determination to get to the truth, whatever the cost in hard labour. No episode in recent history is covered with more acres of ignorance than that of arms deliveries to the Spanish Republic in its struggle with Franco and the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. For the left, the defeat of the Republic was decided by the arms with which Germany and Italy supplied Franco; the right laid more emphasis on the political and military shortcomings of the Republic at war. Howson supplies the facts on which to base our judgements. For him, the true picture only emerges once the details are right.
Edward Heath, in a debate on the advisability of sending British troops to Bosnia, appealed to the House of Commons to consider the lessons of history. Anthony Eden, he argued, was right to keep Britain ‘out of the [Spanish] Civil War. If we had gone into it, it would have