RaveThe Guardian (UK)Paul Preston is Britain’s foremost historian of contemporary Spain. A People Betrayed is a magisterial study of its turbulent past, seen through the optic of those apparently ineradicable twins: corruption and political incompetence ... While corruption and political incompetence were, and are, prevalent in Spain, they are scarcely unique to it. Yet there has been a pronounced tendency among British authors to write with condescension about Spain’s \'troubles\'. Preston himself has never done so, and has never engaged in the mythologising of \'untroubled\' Britain that accompanies it. The fact that he wrote A People Betrayed in the shadow of Brexit, with its home-grown pathology of lies, corruption and eye-popping incompetence, means there is much in his acute analysis of another country’s ills to illuminate our own present malaise ... The book’s dual valency – past and present – is a helpful bonus, though not a surprising one ... The history recounted in A People Betrayed is a long one, but it races along in riveting fashion, replete with eye-catching and often blackly humorous anecdotes – especially for the Franco period and after, involving politicians, bankers, policemen and the royal family. Preston’s narrative combines his gift for cogent, summarising clarity and for telling detail – that the traffic in monopolies included one for rat extermination will stick in many readers’ minds ... Preston has written an admirable book – a lively, comprehensive history of modern Spain, but also, at barely one remove, a compelling essay on contemporary corruption, which is especially worthy of attention today, as we confront an emergency that underlines what states are really for.