'Brief history of Spain', a book for several generations

Fernando García de Cortázar, in 2018. / ignacio perez

The great book by Fernando García de Cortázar, which has become a best-seller since its publication in 1993, changed national historiography

Alvaro Soto

«History of Spain or history of the Spaniards? It is not easy for the historian at the end of the century, freed from the temptations of nineteenth-century 'uniformity', to decide to choose an appropriate term for the last three thousand years of peninsular chronicles». Thus begins 'Brief history of Spain', the great book by Fernando García de Cortázar, who is about to turn 30, and is possibly the greatest best-seller in contemporary Spanish historiography.

Co-written with José Manuel González Vesga and published in 1993 in Alianza Editorial, García de Cortázar offered an original approach to the history of Spain. "History is not only that of kings and heroes, but also that of the plow and the sheep, sea voyages and bureaucracy, laws and books, and, above all, a memory of those who endured the blows of the exploitation and pain," explained the author.

The great success of 'Brief history of Spain' was to reconcile the Spanish with their past. From the black legend to Francoism, the successes in the history of Spain had been overshadowed by its failures. But García de Cortázar managed to turn that perception around. "The history of Spain has been unknown so many times because they have told us wrong or, simply, because they have not told us," the historian referred. In 3,000 years there had been wavering and crises, but also economic achievements and hopes for improvement. "Machado, Lorca and Velázquez are the history of Spain", claimed García de Cortázar. Not everything was bad, on the contrary. "For the sake of challenging Francoism, we Spaniards have been left without a nation," said the historian in an interview with this newspaper.

Reissued without stopping to this day (in its last update it included up to the Ukraine War), 'Brief history of Spain' has been the history book of several generations of Spaniards, which made García de Cortázar proud, who just a month he signed copies of his work at the Madrid Book Fair.

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