Synopses & Reviews
The newly discovered journal of an award-winning poet's experience on the front lines as a member of the Abraham Lincoln BrigadeAll Quiet On the Western Front for the Spanish Civil War.
In 1937, James Neugass, a poet and novelist praised in the New York Times, joined 2,800 other passionate young Americans who traveled to Spain as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigadean unlikely mix of artists, journalists, industrial workers, and intellectuals united in their desire to combat European fascism.
Although rumors persisted over the years that Neugass had written a memoir, the manuscript of War Is Beautiful, a nuanced and deeply poetic chronicle of his service as an ambulance driver, did not come to light for sixty years, until a bookseller discovered it among papers in a New England house once occupied by the radical critic and editor Max Eastman. The memoir combines fast-paced accounts of darting onto battlefields to pick up the wounded with elegiac renderings of days spent "on alert" in an ever-changing series of sharply observed Spanish towns, enduring that most difficult of wartime activities: waiting.
Published now for the first time, War Is Beautiful is poised to take its place alongside works by Erich Maria Remarque, Irène Némirovsky, Wilfred Owen, and George Orwell as a transcendent contemporaneous rendering of wartime life. It includes some of Neugass's own photos taken while in Spain.
"'Who could see you and not remember you?' Federico Garcia Lorca wrote in 1926, describing the brutality of the Guardia Civil, Spain's paramilitary police, toward his beloved Gypsies....For decades, Lorca's insistence on remembrance clashed with Spain's post-Franco pacto del olvido, or pact of forgetting, an agreement between the government and the army that opened the door to democracy in exchange for a sweeping amnesty of the Franco regime. Recently, however, the pact has shown signs of unraveling." Dan Kaufman, The Nation
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Neugass, an American ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled his service as a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. This newly discovered journal of his experience on the front lines is being published for the first time.