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Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past Paperback – Mar 4 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Co; Reprint edition (March 4 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802716741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802716743
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Tremlett is as sound on social history as he is on recent politics. "Ghosts of Spain" is a book of remarkable scope...carried along by the author's enthusiasm for his subject and his determination to capture this contemporary Spanish moment. It is a quest in which he succeeds brilliantly, and he emerges as a worthy member of that band of writers, from Richard Ford and Ernest Hemingway to Gerald Brenan and Michael Jacobs, who have fallen for Iberia. "Ghosts of Spain" is a warts-and-all love letter from someone who hopes never to recover from the "coup de foudre.""--"Sunday Times" (London) "Tremlett, Madrid correspondent for the Guardian, went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why....there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New." John Leonard, "Harper's"

" Tremlett is as sound on social history as he is on recent politics. "Ghosts of Spain" is a book of remarkable scope... carried along by the author' s enthusiasm for his subject and his determination to capture this contemporary Spanish moment. It is a quest in which he succeeds brilliantly, and he emerges as a worthy member of that band of writers, from Richard Ford and Ernest Hemingway to Gerald Brenan and Michael Jacobs, who have fallen for Iberia. "Ghosts of Spain" is a warts-and-all love letter from someone who hopes never to recover from the "coup de foudre,"" -- "Sunday Times" (London) "Tremlett, Madrid correspondent for the Guardian, went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why... .there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New." John Leonard, "Harper's""" "Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey... .Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adopted land."--"Wall Street Journal""" "That the West has a lot to forgive and forget is blue-sky clear in Giles Tremlett's GHOSTS OF SPAIN: TRAVELS THROUGH SPAIN AND ITS SECRET PAST (Walker, $26.95). Tremlett, Madrid correspondent for the Guardian, went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why. He will drag us from the beaches of the Costa Blanca, where bikinis saved Spain for northern European tourism, to theslums of Seville, where abused Gypsies and authentic flamenco are still to be found. We will follow im from the brothels of Valencia to the alcazars of Al Andalus to the serpent and axe of Bilbao and Basque terror to the latest statistics on child-rearing, golf courses, homosexuality, and cocaine consumption. We meet drug dealers, real estate hustlers, soccer stars, corrupt businessmen and pols, incorruptible judges, not-so-former Falangist, and Opus Dei. We speak Catalan in Barcelona, listen to the cantigas of trovadores Galicia, look at Picasso' s Guernica in Madrid, watch Pedro Almodovar on TV in La Mancha, and learn that the novelist Camilo Jose Cela, winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature, once upon a time snitched on fellow writers to Franco' s thugs. El Cid, Unamuno, Don Quixote, Garcia Lorca-- there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New except, perhaps, the Manolete Mausoleum in Cordoba; Tremlett doesn' t much care for bullfighting.
But mostly there are ghosts. And most of these ghosts belong to the Spanish Civil War and Franco' s subsequent fascistic Brigadoon. In return for a bloodless transition to democracy after the dictator' s death in 1975, all sides seem to have signed some unspoken agreement to subscribe to what Tremlett calls " Amnistia and Amnesia" -- a plague of forgetting right out of One Hundred Years of Solitude. But now the bodies buried in nameless dumps are turning up, literally, wherever ground is broken for a shopping mall. And nothing like South Africa' s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has ever occurred to Spain, because nobody like Nelson Mandela has ever exerted an influence. Tremlett is excited, hopeful, worried. If we already know that, at our worst, we are capable of radical evil, can' t we dream that our best might muster some radical good? Then, also waiting to be heard from, there are those other Spanish ghosts: the Moor and the Jew."-John Leonard, "Harper's"

"This well traveled journalist... knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life." "-- ""Washington"" Times" (Ann Geracimos)
"Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting.""-- ""Seattle"" Times "(Robin Updike)
"[An] incisive and engaging book... .[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject... .[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" who have chosen to live in Spain. A country finally facing its past could scarcely hope for a better, or more enamored, chronicler of its present."-- "New York Times Book Review" (Sarah Wildman)
" [An] affectionate, deeply informed tour of the country... . a highly informative, well-written introduction to post-Franco Spain. Mr. Tremlett' s taut recounting of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid makes especially timely reading, with the suspects now on trial."-- "New York Times "(William Grimes)
"Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey... .Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adopted land."-- "Wall Street Journal "(Francis X. Rocco)
"[A] provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter... .This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture." "- Library Journal"
" "
"Tremlett... went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why... .there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New."-- "Harpers "(John Leonard)
"[A]n evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war."-- "Star-Tribune "(Michael J. Bonafield)

Praise for "Ghosts of Spain"


"[Tremlett's] affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey...[with the] sort of insight that vindicates his approach to a deeply traditional and fast-changing land."--"Wall Street Journal


""An evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war." --"Minneapolis Star Tribune


""Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting."--"Seattle Times"

Praise for "Ghosts of Spain":


"[Tremlett] paints a rich, multicolored canvas of one of Europe's most fascinating nations.""--Entertainment Weekly"
"This well traveled journalist...knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life." "--""Washington"" Times" (Ann Geracimos)
"Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting.""--""Seattle"" Times "(Robin Updike)
"[An] incisive and engaging book....[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject....[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" who have chosen to live in Spain. A country finally facing its past could scarcely hope for a better, or more enamored, chronicler of its present."--"New York Times Book Review" (Sarah Wildman)
" [An] affectionate, deeply informed tour of the country.... a highly informative, well-written introduction to post-Franco Spain. Mr. Tremlett's taut recounting of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid makes especially timely reading, with the suspects now on trial."--"New York Times "(William Grimes)
"Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey....Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adoptedland."--"Wall Street Journal "(Francis X. Rocco)
"[A] provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter....This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture." "-Library Journal"
" "
"Tremlett...went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why....there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New."--"Harpers "(John Leonard)
"[A]n evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war."--"Star-Tribune "(Michael J. Bonafield)

Praise for "Ghosts of Spain":

"[Tremlett] paints a rich, multicolored canvas of one of Europe's most fascinating nations.""—Entertainment Weekly""This well traveled journalist…knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life." "—""Washington"" Times" (Ann Geracimos)
 
"Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting.""—""Seattle"" Times "(Robin Updike)
 
"[An] incisive and engaging book….[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject….[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" whoz

Praise for "Ghosts of Spain"

"[Tremlett] paints a rich, multicolored canvas of one of Europe's most fascinating nations.""--Entertainment Weekly""This well traveled journalist...knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life." "--""Washington"" Times" (Ann Geracimos)
"Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting.""--""Seattle"" Times "(Robin Updike)
"[An] incisive and engaging book....[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject....[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" who have chosen to live in Spain. A country finally facing its past could scarcely hope for a better, or more enamored, chronicler of its present."--"New York Times Book Review"(Sarah Wildman)
" [An] affectionate, deeply informed tour of the country.... a highly informative, well-written introduction to post-Franco Spain. Mr. Tremlett's taut recounting of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid makes especially timely reading, with the suspects now on trial."--"New York Times "(William Grimes)
"Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey....Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adopted land."--"Wall Street Journal "(Francis X. Rocco)
"[A] provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter....This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture." "-Library Journal"
" "
"Tremlett...went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why....there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New."--"Harpers "(John Leonard)
"[A]n evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war."--"Star-Tribune "(Michael J. Bonafield)

"[Tremlett] paints a rich, multicolored canvas of one of Europe's most fascinating nations.""--Entertainment Weekly""This well traveled journalist...knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life." "--""Washington"" Times" (Ann Geracimos)
"Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting.""--""Seattle"" Times "(Robin Updike)
"[An] incisive and engaging book....[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject....[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" who have chosen to live in Spain. A country finally facing its past could scarcely hope for a better, or more enamored, chronicler of its present."--"New York Times Book Review"(Sarah Wildman)
" [An] affectionate, deeply informed tour of the country.... a highly informative, well-written introduction to post-Franco Spain. Mr. Tremlett's taut recounting of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid makes especially timely reading, with the suspects now on trial."--"New York Times "(William Grimes)
"Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey....Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adopted land."--"Wall Street Journal "(Francis X. Rocco)
"[A] provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter....This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture." "-Library Journal"
" "
"Tremlett...went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why....there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New."--"Harpers "(John Leonard)
"[A]n evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war."--"Star-Tribune "(Michael J. Bonafield)

[Tremlett] paints a rich, multicolored canvas of one of Europe's most fascinating nations. "Entertainment Weekly"

This well traveled journalist knows his subject as he ventures through the past to explain the present personality of a country so varied that even in modern times its complicated medieval legacy is part of everyday life. "Washington Times (Ann Geracimos)"

Tremlett has written a smart and highly readable book that mixes incisive political history with sophisticated cultural reporting. "Seattle Times (Robin Updike)"

[An] incisive and engaging book .[Tremlett's] sober analysis of how the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004...exposed deep fissures in Spanish society is the best report I've read on the subject .[A]n invaluable book. Indeed, since it appeared in Britain last year, 'Ghosts of Spain' has become something of a bible for those of us "extranjeros" who have chosen to live in Spain. A country finally facing its past could scarcely hope for a better, or more enamored, chronicler of its present. "New York Times Book Review (Sarah Wildman)"

[An] affectionate, deeply informed tour of the country . a highly informative, well-written introduction to post-Franco Spain. Mr. Tremlett's taut recounting of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid makes especially timely reading, with the suspects now on trial. "New York Times (William Grimes)"

Mr. Tremlett['s]...affectionate yet critical intimacy with the country helps to make this book much more than an ordinary journalistic survey .Extended residency has...allowed Mr. Tremlett to gather off-beat stories distinctly revealing of his adopted land. "Wall Street Journal (Francis X. Rocco)"

[A] provocative and vividly written book that is part history, part political and social commentary, and part love letter .This book should be in all public and academic library collections on Spanish history and culture. "Library Journal"

Tremlett went native almost immediately upon his arrival in Spain twenty years ago. He wants us to see, hear, touch, and taste exactly why .there are pages here on almost every exemplary, cautionary, and symbolic aspect of Old Spain and New. "Harpers (John Leonard)"

[A]n evocative, often poignant sojourn through the as-yet uncleared psychic mists of the civil war. "Star-Tribune (Michael J. Bonafield)""

About the Author

Giles Tremlett is the "Guardian"'s Madrid correspondent. He has lived in, and written about, Spain for the past twenty years.

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Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book. It is not a traditional history of modern spain, but instead weaves together various strands of spanish history and current spanish goings-on, using a thematic approach, to a highly enjoyable effect.
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Format: Paperback
A perfect read while in Spain on vacation a few years back. Enjoyable read if you want to learn Spain's modern history, warts and all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book about a very sensitive topic, and considering how reluctant the Spaniards are to even talk about the civil war, the author did an amazing job of researching the subject. It is well written and it's one of those books you hate to finish.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9fd731ec) out of 5 stars 53 reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fda6060) out of 5 stars Great book about a fascinating country May 18 2007
By Brandon Wilkening - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a great journalistic account of the social and political changes that have transformed Spain up to the present day. Tremlett discusses the country's past and present in fairly equal measure. He begins by looking at the legacies of the Spanish Civil War, discussing how only in the past decade has the full scale of the atrocities that took place come to light. He discusses how Spaniards whose relatives were killed by the Francoists have pushed in recent years for their relatives to be given decent burials. He also writes an interesting chapter on Franco's overall legacy, arguing that after his death and the country's transition to democracy he has been largely purged from public discourse. Despite this collective amnesia that he identifies, Tremlett points out that the same left-right cleavage that drove the war still lurks below the surface of Spanish society. The book also contains chapters on the Basque, Catalan, and Galician regions. Tremlett provides very insightful analysis of the origins of and main forces behind Basque and Catalan nationalism, while his chapter on Galicia details that region's emergence as a conduit for Columbian cocaine. One of my favorite chapters looked at gender relations in Spain, in which Tremlett provides some very amusing anecdotes that reveal contrasts between Spain and his native Britain. This chapter also discusses Tremlett's quest to understand the paradox of how a country can be so awash in brothels (which, he reports, 1/4 of Spanish men visited) yet relatively conservative in terms of the sexual mores of its people.

Other subjects covered here include Spain's emergence as a global tourism magnet (and the corruption that has often emerged alongside it) and the 2004 Madrid train bombing, which indirectly led to the defeat of the ruling party in the elections several days later. This was an interesting chapter, in which Tramlett looked at the ways in which the main parties tried to capitalize on this tragedy for political gain. Overall, I found Tremlett to be a very keen analyst of social and political relations, and there weren't really any weak chapters. For instance, I considered skipping a chapter on flamenco music, not being particularly interested in the musical form itself, but the chapter ended up including a fascinating discussion of the social history of Spain's gypsies.

Overall, I would heartily recommend this book to anybody interested in Spanish history, culture, and/or politics. I would NOT recommend it to those expecting more of a travel guide type of book; although Tremlett does visit and write evocatively about numerous regions, such descriptions are not the main substance of this book. If I had to make one minor criticism, it is that the chapters themselves were often not tightly organized. For example, the chapter on the Basques jumps from past to present and does not really follow any sort of structure. This wasn't really a problem for me, because Tremlett writes well and never bored me, but it might be a problem to some. Another minor complaint is that the book doesn't include a map, which might have been useful for readers like me who aren't intimately familiar with Spain's geography. Overall, though, I think that this is social and political journalism at its finest, and anybody wishing to learn more about this fascinating country could do worse than to start here!
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa260f870) out of 5 stars Cracking the Spanish Mystique April 2 2007
By Andrea Huber Burda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having been to Spain a number of times since 1991, I always sensed that Spain was "different" from any other western European country. REcently I attended a Hemingway field study in Madrid by R. W. Burda, and I read this book before and during my stay. I can't say enough about the book--Giles Tremlett must have researched for years. I highly recommend this to anyone visiting or living in Spain as an expatriate, as Tremlett himself does. He begins with the ghastly Civil War years (perfect companion piece to the understanding of Hemingway's FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and SUN ALSO RISES), the Franco years, pointing out that King Juan Carlos is the first-ever king elected by a dictator! For a country full of loquacious people (138,000 bars in Spain, more that any other European country!), they are eerily silent about the painful past. ...if you want to start to understand what makes Spaniards tick, read this book. Better yet, buy it along with a ticket to Madrid and read it there in all the tapas bars you can manage to get to!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fdc1c9c) out of 5 stars An outsider's insight May 27 2007
By Stephen McHenry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A British journalist who has lived 20 years in Spain, married and raising his 2 children in Madrid, the author investigates, reveals and muses upon Spanish culture, history and the forces of the "two Spains" as they come together, or rub against each other, in forming the modern Spanish world. A fascinating look at Spain, its subcultures from the Basques to the Catalans to flamenco to the Galicians, to drug culture to tourism and the very difficult and delicate process of choosing to forget the differences of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's regime in order to move forward in a country that was once the most powerful on earth.

I like Spain and its history. This is one of the very best insights into modern Spain. Highly recommended.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa024115c) out of 5 stars If you have time for only one book about Spain. Dec 2 2007
By R. Ray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you have time to read only one book about Spain, Ghosts of Spain, would be my pick for you. I have been to Spain several times: to Valderama for the Ryder Cup; to the Pyrenees to hike; to Barcelona to see Gaudi's works; to Bilbao to see "Puppy" and the Gehry Guggenheim; and to Guernica because of Picasso's painting of the same name. There is little in Spain that hasn't captured my interest. Ghosts of Spain has pulled together my varied experiences and has made sense of them. Ghosts is rich with history, pre- and post Franco, and with a devoted admirer's unravelling of modern Spain's political, economic, artistic, and social sensibilities. Read Ghosts and you will arrive in Spain to find that Giles Tremlett has given you an amazing gift, a "Rosetta Stone" for Spain. Whether you speak Spanish or not, Tremlett's Ghosts will make the new and the strange feel familiar. If you already know Spain, I suspect that Ghosts is even more of a "must read."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fd96f3c) out of 5 stars "How the Bikini Saved Spain" ..and other short stories... March 20 2008
By William A. Sowka Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice follow up after reading the classic Iberia by James Michener. Brings the reader up to date on life in modern Spain which is still haunted by ghosts of its civil war and the battle between tradition and modernism. La Transicion, or Spain's transition to democracy is something that is occuring both historically, politically, and personally as Spain enters a more globalized, connected world. Tremlett describes this "transicion" from all perspectives, but it is his personal perspective, as an ex-pat Brit raising his family in Spain, which I found particularly enjoyable. His descriptions of day to day life juxtaposed into chapters dealing with deeper historical and political events, such as the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the legacy of Franco, the Basque separatist movement, the pride of Catalans, and the 2004 Islamic bombings, makes this book very readable and pertitent to truly understanding not only the country but its people, and their remarkable history.


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