In 1974 Francisco Franco died. The Spanish people could finally begin openly discussing the legacy of the Spanish Civil War in order to build a future. However, in a country where repression was the norm until recently, how do you have a transparent dialogue? In 1975 the Paneros, an infamous literary family, aired a scandalous documentary about their lives that, in the decades since, has been interpreted as an attempt to answer this question. Shulman's amazing book chronicles the story of the Paneros, the treacherous twists and turns they navigated, as well as the impact of their now cult favorite documentary.
In 1972 during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, a group of intruders abducted Jean McConville, the 38 year old mother of ten, and she was never seen again. It was not until 2003 that her remains were unearthed on a beach. Then, in 2013, Dolours Price died. She was a front line soldier for the IRA, who, in a secret oral history project had confessed to her involvement in the death of Jean McConville. But at the heart of this story is Gerry Adams, who ordered the killing. This is a chilling story, superbly told by an award winning New Yorker staff writer.
Before he was George Orwell of literary fame he was Eric Blair, a largely unknown Englishman who arrived in Barcelona in 1936 to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell, with a touch of sadness and humor as well as a refreshingly modest humanity, thoughtfully conveys the story of his involvement in this enigmatic conflict. This isn't a story of someone who had a profound impact on the war. Rather it's the story of someone who experienced the profound impacts of war in all its glory, horror, and absurdity. Glimmers of the writer he was to become lie within.