The International Brigades is nothing less than magisterial, and provides the first 'comprehensive, global history' of that conflict written in English in over 40 years ... Tremlett has organized his enormous book chronologically, so that each skirmish and battle where the volunteers were present is documented, and rich details are provided through a combination of first-hand witness and participant accounts, newspaper articles, and secondary sources.
[A] sweeping and brilliant new history of the International Brigades ... Tremlett – a veteran Guardian journalist based in Madrid – assembles a magnificent and readable history ... With the far-right on the rise across the West and the term anti-fascist becoming degraded by those who deny its threats with false equivalence, Tremlett offers both powerful history and a vital warning.
[Tremlett's] gripping narrative recreates the heartbreak and heroism of the conflict ... A highly readable, monumental account of the idealism and suffering of the most international army ever assembled since the Crusades.
Tremlett has chosen a chronological narrative, foregrounding the voices of the fighters themselves. Inevitably, that means treating the political, diplomatic and military history of the war as background. This approach makes it difficult, at times, for the reader to judge the significance of a specific tactical engagement against the strategic situation ... In its focus on the Soviet generals and commissars, the book provides a valuable addition to the postwar accounts based on individual memoirs ... The book is at its best when telling the unvarnished stories of the individuals drawn to the republican cause ... Tremlett’s book marks a heroic episode in the history of the left. At a time when real fascists with real guns are patrolling the streets of American cities, and when far-right violence is on the rise in Spain, the sacrifice of the International Brigaders deserves to be remembered. In doing so, Tremlett reminds us that even just wars are dirty and chaotic, breeding grounds of sadism and injustice, and that the selfless often die first.