A Moment of War by Laurie Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Lee had made his way to Spain. After travelling around the country before being evacuated home by the navy after the Spanish Civil War erupted. Back home in Gloucestershire Lee felt drawn to those fighting the Republican cause, and makes the decision to head back to Spain. Arriving in Perpignan in Southern France he is unable to find anyone to help him get across the border so decides to take a risk and cross the Pyrenees in a snowstorm.
After somehow making it safely across the mountains, he is arrested and imprisoned for being a spy. On the day that his execution was scheduled for, a chance encounter meant that he was released. Lee quickly joins the International Brigade, along with a motley rabble of men from all over the UK and other parts of Europe who felt drawn to the anti-fascist cause too. He was then given limited training, but was arrested again as a brief trip to Morocco when he was in Spain previously had made him a marked man.
He saw very little service, but did travel around to a few locations in the back of an army truck. After the first bombing of a town where he was staying, the realities of the harshness of war, stripped away any romantic notions that he may have still harboured about the fight that he had volunteered for. He has some very near misses, and the impression that you get from the Spanish is that they were not particularly enamoured about having soldiers of other nationalities there, as this was an internal fight that they had to go through. The book is written in Lee’s distinct eloquent style again, making this a pleasure to read even though the subject is not particularly savoury and a fitting end to the series.
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