Bessie’s notebooks reflect the fast pace of a soldier’s life as he jots down impressions, often while under fire. He and his comrades stumble into a fascist camp and must flee for their lives. They endure the shelling and bombing from the forces commanded by General Francisco Franco. Ernest Hemingway visits to provide moral support and cigarettes. The squad must lead Spanish recruits as young as fifteen into a sea of deadly fire. Bessie learns that his best friend has been killed.
Not simply a combat record, the notebooks also record songs the soldiers sang, diagrams of loyalist and fascist positions and combat formations, arguments among the men about politics and the conduct of the war, opinions of their officers, and the desire of many to go home.
Alvah Bessie’s Spanish Civil War Notebooks lend a fresh perspective to one of the most important conflicts of the 1930s, and to a historically crucial opening chapter of World War II....Continua