RaveThe Times (UK)Although an admirer of [Thubron\'s] works, I embarked on this one harbouring the dabbler’s secret fear of being awed but not entertained ... My concern was unfounded. Thubron has produced a fascinating read packed with curiosities and incident, and, travelling in his 80th year, sheds a little of his customary emotional reticence, offering glimpses of the rare bird that is himself.
PositiveThe Times (UK)Preston has written a Spanish history about a period so steeped in assassination, mob violence, civilian bloodshed, corruption and failed governments that about halfway through reading it I wondered if I had the grit to carry on ... fascinating ... Preston, the author of an acclaimed biography of Franco, has a reputation for being pro-left, pro-republican. The clue to the tenor of the work is the title, which belies the fact that many Spaniards did not feel betrayed by a lack of social progress. Still, the book’s depth of research cannot be faulted, and the examples of grand malfeasance and political corruption are extraordinary ... Preston’s account takes us through the close-run, coup-endangered transition to democracy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He concludes that the long history of corruption scandals and political incompetence — left, right and monarchical — is the cause for Spain’s polarisation and fragmentation today. Perhaps he oversimplifies the reasons for the country’s present woes, not giving due weight to wider influences such as the global rise of populism and international economic pressures. Nonetheless, after I had finished reading A People Betrayed, I applauded Preston’s — and my own — heroic feat.