Full of piss, vinegar and militant optimism

March 19, 2013

Clancy Sigal writes to the London Review of Books from Los Angeles, in response to Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s review of Richard Baxell’s Unlikely Warriors:

The drift of Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s piece about the Spanish Civil War is that it was ‘one wake-up call after another’, in which the untrained, poorly armed volunteers had their optimism shattered by the reality of battle (LRB, 21 February). The tone is one of disillusionment. The Loyalist side of the Spanish Civil War was my first ‘cause’, at age ten or 11, because my favourite cousin, Coleman (Charlie) Persily, fought on various fronts with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Over the years I’ve spoken to Cousin Charlie and other American ‘Lincolnistas’ and found their youthful commitment unchanged. Maybe it’s old guys putting a romantic gloss on a bad experience. Or maybe, even in the face of the Loyalists’ ugly factionalism and incompetent leadership, they believed in the Republic despite everything. I found these ageing guys full of piss, vinegar and militant optimism. Happy to have survived, happy to have been there.

Read the original review of Richard Baxell’s book here; for another review of Richard’s book, see the latest IBMT newsletter.


One Response to “ Full of piss, vinegar and militant optimism ”

  1. clyde drexler on April 14, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY???…Are you guys STILL not aware that the Lincoln Brigade was a bunch of self-delusional children who stumbled blindly into a Stalinist madhouse of murder, executions, and Soviet-directed score settling on the Iberian peninsula? I mean, its been over 70 years now. If you have not yet figured out the skinny on the Spanish “civil war” (a tragic rock fight between fascists and communists on a neutral court which the latter lost), you really need to read a book. Getting some background on Munzenberg and Katz would be a great starting point for you.