The appearance, more than sixty years after the Spanish Civil War ended, of mass graves containing victims of Francisco Franco’s death squads finally broke what Spaniards call “the pact of forgetting”—the unwritten understanding that their recent, painful past was best left unexplored. At this charged moment, Giles Tremlett embarked on a journey around the country and through its history to discover why some of Europe’s most voluble people have kept silent so long.
Ghosts of Spain is the fascinating result of that journey. In elegant and passionate prose, Tremlett unveils the tinderbox of disagreements that mark the country today. Delving into such emotional questions as who caused the Civil War, why Basque terrorists kill, why Catalans hate Madrid, and whether the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dreamed of a return to Spain’s Moorish past, Tremlett finds the ghosts of the past everywhere. At the same time, he offers trenchant observations on more quotidian aspects of Spanish life today: the reasons, for example, Spaniards dislike authority figures, but are cowed by a doctor’s white coat, and how women have embraced feminism without men noticing.
Drawing on the author’s twenty years of experience living in Spain, Ghosts of Spain is a revelatory book about one of Europe’s most exciting countries.