Books - Between Two Fires




Author:  David Baird
ISBN 13:  978-8461220533
Publisher:  Maroma Press
Date First Published:  15/02/2008

For long the subject was taboo. Now a new books throws fresh light on a forgotten war that raged in the 1940s and early 1950s in the mountains of Spain.

Entitled Between Two Fires - Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, the book appears at a moment when Spain is involved in intense and often bitter debate about its recent past under the 40-year Franco dictatorship.

Comments noted British historian Paul Preston: "As exciting as any thriller, yet deeply moving, Between Two Fires deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the history of contemporary Spain." 

Journalist David Baird spent more than five years investigating a Communist-led rebellion against the Franco regime in the 1940s. A state of war existed in the sierras of Málaga and Granada.  It is a story of heartbreak and heroism as he relates what happens in a village trapped between the ruthless Civil Guard and guerrillas led by a legendary chieftain named Roberto.

Guerrilleros, villagers, Civil Guards give a poignant account of bloodshed, betrayal and courage. While guerrillas fought in the mountains, politicians as far apart as London and Moscow pulled the strings.

During the dark days of the Cold War, Stalin himself became involved. Franco tried to ignore the revolt, branding the guerrillas "bandits", and few outside Spain knew anything of the struggle.

The author conducted scores of interviews and scoured official archives from Barcelona to Washington, noting: "It was a battle against time. Many of the old-timers who lived through those years are dying."

In his research he discovered:

  • How close the Allies came to invading Spain during the Second World War
  • Important new details of United States involvement in the guerrilla movement - members of the OSS secretly trained and armed Communists in North Africa
  • Confidential reports which throw a grim light on the murder of three young villagers by Civil Guards


"But most all," claims Baird, "I wanted to give a voice to the humble countryfolk who found themselves living a nightmare. It's the same sort of situation suffered by innocent civilians caught up in conflicts around the world, from Beirut to Baghdad."

In his prologue Ian Gibson, acclaimed biographer of García Lorca, comments: "David Baird, excellent writer and experienced journalist, reconstructs - and narrates as though it were a novel - the history of those tormented years."

The book is published in conjunction with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, based at the London School of Economics. A Spanish edition has been published by Editorial Almuzara of Córdoba.

Between Two Fires can be bought in English-language bookshops or direct from the publishers, Maroma Press (email: [email protected]).