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In 1936, George Orwell went to Spain to report on the civil war and instead joined the P.O.U.M. militia to fight against the Fascists. In this now justly famous account of his experience, he describes both the bleak and the comic aspects of trench warfare on the Aragon front, the Barcelona uprising in May 1937, his nearly fatal wounding just two weeks later, and his escape from Barcelona into France after the P.O.U.M. was suppressed.
As important as the story of the war itself - is Orwell's analysis of why the Communist Party sabotaged the workers' revolution and branded the P.O.U.M. as Trotskyist, which provides an essential key to understanding the outcome of the war and an ironic sidelight on international Communism. It was during this period in Spain that Orwell learned for himself the nature of totalitarianism in practice, an education that laid the groundwork for his great books Animal Farm and 1984.
"I wonder what is the appropriate first action when you come from a country at war and set foot on peaceful soil. Mine was to rush to the tobacco-kiosk and buy as many cigars and cigarettes as I could stuff into my pockets." Most war correspondents observe wars and then tell stories about the battles, the soldiers and the civilians. George Orwell--novelist, journalist, sometime socialist--actually traded his press pass for a uniform and fought against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 and 1937. He put his politics and his formidable conscience to the toughest tests during those days in the trenches in the Catalan section of Spain. Then, after nearly getting killed, he went back to England and wrote a gripping account of his experiences, as well as a complex analysis of the political machinations that led to the defeat of the socialist Republicans and the victory of the Fascists.