The Penguin History of Modern Spain

The Penguin History of Modern Spain

1898 to the Present


'Spain is different,' proclaimed the Franco regime in the forties, keen to attract foreign tourists. For the most part, the world and its scholars have agreed. From the end of its 'glorious empire' in 1898 to the dazzling World Cup victory in 2010, the prevailing narrative of modern Spain has emphasised the country's peculiarity. Generations of historians and readers have been transfixed by its implosion into civil war in the 1930s, seduced by the heroic struggle of the republicans, horrified by the barbarity of the dictatorship which followed. Franco's Spain was seen as a grotesque anomaly in the midst of prosperous and permissive post-war Western Europe. But, as Nigel Townson shows in this richly-layered and exciting new history, beyond the familiar portrait of backward peasants, romantic guerrillas and reactionary Catholics and fascists, there lies a radically different history of Spain: of a dynamic and modernising society that fits firmly into the narrative of modern Europe.

Drawing on over forty years of post-Franco scholarship, The Penguin History of Modern Spain transforms our knowledge of Spain and its politics, society, economics and culture. It interweaves cutting-edge Spanish-led research - never before published in English - and testimonies of artisans, lawyers, soldiers, housewives, factory workers, peasants, for an original and surprising portrait, which allows us, at last, to glimpse the country behind the veil of official propaganda and the romantic myths which still endure today.


  • Nigel Townson has produced a superb synthesis of the new Spanish history, while offering an original and arresting narrative of his own.
    Professor José Álvarez Junco, Complutense University of Madrid

About the author

Nigel Townson

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