Franco’s Pirates

Review by Martin Koenigsberg

The Spanish Civil War is fascinating in its own right- but also is instructive now that we have another Land War in Europe. ER Hooton, an author on conflict in the 20th Century takes on the Naval campaigns that did have effect on the land war that was central to the struggle. The Fascist Nationalists and the Socialist-then Communist Republicans both tried to conduct naval warfare -with the Nationalists being far more successful. The Nazi Germans and Blackshirt Italians also sent both weapons for the Nationalists- as well as naval forces to help. The French and the British tried to play the Naval Power adults in the room- safeguarding neutral shipping- but were not very successful. Overall, it made sailing anywhere near Spain, or Spain’s Atlantic islands a dangerous exercise in the late 1930s. Spain’s two coastlines (on either side of Portugal) are quite long- and any traffic coming by sea from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean has to pass lots of it, so this had a big effect on European trade. There were blockade runners of all kinds- some legit trade with both combatants, submarines, and lots of gunboats stopping ships on all sort of pretexts. The Intelligence agencies – then in their post WWI infancies- were all trying gamely to figure out what was going on- but Hooten shows how confused the situation was. Reading about this- informed by the present Houthi Naval confrontation in the Red Sea- one can see parallels and comparisons. I learned a lot and feel like any reader would too, military history buff or general audience member. There are a lot of adult themes, but they are political and not graphic injury passages, so a Junior Reader about 13/14 years can get value from this book. It’s a treasure chest for the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast- a whole new part of a whole new struggle most of us have not studied much. The gamer has dozens of scenario/campaign ideas- although some other resources would probably be called for. The Modeler has a tonne of Build/Diorama ideas – the Air war element to the Naval SCW being rich with niche aircraft from the 1930s. The Military Enthusiast gets a long look at a whole Naval confrontation from the 20th Century they might not have thought of before. It’s a compelling story of a crisis that has echoes today. We would do well to heed these warnings…

WhatAreYouReading #BookReviews #20thCenturyHistory #MilitaryHistory #NavGeek #NavalHistory #SpanishHistory #FascistHistory #RepublicanHistory #SocialistHistory #SovietHistory #SpanishCivilWar #BetweenTheWars #RoyalNavy #NaziHistory #ItalianColonialHistory #RegiaMarina #WargameResearch #FrancosPirates #NavalAspectsOfTheSpanishCivilWar1936to39 #ERHooton #CasematePublishing #Blockade #Mediterranean #Majorca #Fascism #VictoryAtSea #CruelSeas #20thCenturyWargaming

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