In 1936 George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, was sent to Spain to report on the Spanish Civil War. Upon arriving there he did the only thing sensible to him at the time, he took up arms with the anarchist militia against the fascist army of Francisco Franco. Orwell took the role of a soldier-reporter in which he wrote a book about his experiences, Homage to Catalonia.
For anyone interested in the dynamics of revolutionary history or Anarchism, this is one book that cannot be missed. Orwell recounts the entire ordeal beginning with joining the militia to narrowly escaping Spain during the political meltdown in a way that would make James Bond cream his tuxedo. Orwell’s recount is told with his signature charm, irony, and wit. It’s not often that we get to read a war book written by literary master who was actually there in the trenches. His first-hand accounts of combat put you right next to him crawling on your belly through mud and barb wire. You feel the panic of the communication lines breaking down in the midst of enemy fire, and the savagely cold nights with hardly a wick light to keep warm. Orwell portrayal of the petty infighting between anti-fascist forces will make the reader cross their head at the absurdity of war.
This isn’t a book that celebrates the glory of the battle field. It is harsh retelling of what it was like to be there in the madness. We get to see the transformation of Orwell starting off as wide-eyed man romanticized by the armed struggle, only to finish off disillusioned by the destruction, propaganda, and deadly ego battles. The relevancy of this book is at a fevered pitch in these modern times, but it’s a scream that is drowned out in the awesome flood of waving flags and avalanching politics.
“If you want a picture of the future,
imagine a boot stamping on a human