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Violencia Reviews

Violencia by Jason Webster

Violencia: A New History of Spain: Past, Present and the Future of the West

Jason Webster

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Constable
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 3 Oct 2019
ISBN: 9781472129857

Violencia exposes the bloody heart of Spain - from its origins in the ancient past to the Civil War and the current crisis in Catalonia.

2 stars out of 5

"Finally, the author’s thinking is out of control. "

A notion of Spanish history as psychomachia – “an age-long Manichaean struggle” of “Santiago the slayer” against “Santiago the seeker” – animates the book; but occasionally a third, detached, rational Santiago shatters the false dichotomy. Bafflingly, Webster adopts the illogical rhetoric of Spanish “rupturists” who claim that there was no democratic “transition” after Franco because there was “no clean break”. He thinks that democracy must “allow the country to break apart” – but there is no majority for secession in any region (only 40 per cent of the electorate participated in the Catalan independence referendum in 2017). He predicts violence in any case for Spain and therefore, by his logic, for the rest of the West. The most horrific aspect of this nonsense is that – for reasons that elude Jason Webster – it may vaguely prefigure the truth. As dichotomy-politics grind moderation out of Western democracies, conflicts will get ever nastier. To comprehend and contain them, we shall need better, more balanced history than is offered in Violencia.


3 stars out of 5
Gerard DeGroot
12 Oct 2019

"a delightfully engaging read and a good introduction to Spain’s turbulent history"

Violencia examines Spain from prehistory to the present. It is a delightfully engaging read and a good introduction to Spain’s turbulent history. Webster, rather like John Julius Norwich, combines considerable knowledge with wonderfully irreverent personal observations. He enjoys, for instance, telling the story of Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella, a “shagged-out crown prince” who copulated his way to an early grave.