Over a century after his birth in 1892, almost twenty years after his death in 1975, Francisco Franco remains an intensely controversial figure. His key role in the Civil War, which brought him supreme military and political power in Spain and theMoreOver a century after his birth in 1892, almost twenty years after his death in 1975, Francisco Franco remains an intensely controversial figure.
His key role in the Civil War, which brought him supreme military and political power in Spain and the deep and enduring suspicion and hostility of much of the wider world, has tended to overshadow his subsequent career of four decades as autocratic Head of State in Spain.
The shear longevity of his hold on power is astonishing: he survived the fall of the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini- his repressive measures were successful both in holding Spain down and in holding it together- he achieved a measure of political accommodation with the western democratic powers- and he died in his bed, bequeathing power only at the last moment to his chosen (albeit very different) successor.
Yet - pious, cautious, conservative and narrow-minded - he was not obviously a prepossessing or charismatic figure, or even someone with a ready-made power-base on which to build. How did such a man rise to such power? What use did he make of it?
What were the formative influences on him? Did he have a consistent vision for Spain? If so, how far was he able to realize it? These are questions which Sheelagh Ellwood addresses in this crisp and incisive survey - the latest, and very welcome, addition to the distinguished series of Profiles in Power. She sets her central figure in the context of the social, economic and political evolution of twentieth-century Spain, as it struggled to overcome the loss of imperial grandeur and recover both national confidence and international prestige.
Indeed, her concern throughout is as much with the country as the man, as sheexamines the special circumstances in Spain that made Francos career both possible and so long-enduring. The book draws on a wide variety of Spanish and other sources, and on Dr Ellwoods own research and observation carried out over 20 years. It offers critical interpretation as