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Account of the Spanish Civil War Reprinted

21 November 2006

Classic Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War Reprinted

'It seemed to me as if the dying sun were like the fading glow of the People's Government of Spain. On that autumn evening it appeared as if nothing could save Madrid and Spain from Franco.'

Geoffrey Cox's Defence of Madrid is one of the most important books ever written on an aspect of the Spanish Civil War. This vivid eyewitness account resonates with the terror, courage and hardships facing Madrid under siege.

Otago University Press has now republished this classic book. It is believed to be the first time a book by a New Zealander has been republished seventy years after it was written and during the author's lifetime.

A revolt by Spanish military in Morocco in July 1936 launched the bloody start of the Spanish Civil War. Nationalists - including Catholic clergy, the landed and fascists - fought against the Republican government - supported by worker and peasant militia. The conflict lasted nearly three years, drawing international supporters to both sides.

Twenty-six-year-old New Zealander Geoffrey Cox was working for London newspaper News Chronicle when he was dispatched to Spain in October 1936. Madrid was under attack by the rebel Nationalist forces and the newspaper's correspondent there had been arrested.

It was generally expected that the capital would fall within the week, but, surprisingly, the defenders of Madrid held off their attackers for more than two more years. During his six weeks in the city, Cox witnessed history in the making. The unexpected repulsion of the Franco's rebels was coupled with a growing sense of hope in the Republican zone. The city was bombarded from the air and raided during the night, but the arrival of Russian tanks and planes and the International Brigades made a significant difference to Madrid's ability to defend itself.

The Spanish Civil War ushered in a new, dangerous period in newspaper reporting. Journalists were at risk from artillery fire and bombing raids, and subject to the cold and hunger experienced by Madrid's people. About a dozen reporters were arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the Rebels, and five were killed during the course of the conflict.

These scenes have chilling similarities to scenes of urban and guerrilla warfare throughout the twentieth century and today.

This edition of Defence of Madrid includes photographs and samples of Cox's reporting from the front.

Geoffrey Cox As a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand, Geoffrey Cox atypically chose a career in journalism. He soon became a foreign correspondent reporting from Berlin on the establishment of the Nazi regime, recalled in his book Eyewitness: A Memoir of Europe in the 1930s. A posting to Madrid followed. After World War II, Cox went on to found Independent Television's News at Ten. He now lives in Gloucestershire, England.

Publication details Defence of Madrid: An Eyewitness Account from the Spanish Civil War Geoffrey Cox Release: 10 November 2006. RRP $39.95 --


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