Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War by Michael PetrouRenegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War by Michael Petrou

Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War

byMichael Petrou

Paperback | April 12, 2008

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Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War, by veteran journalist Michael Petrou, tells the story of the 1,681 Canadians who, between 1936 and 1939, defied Canadian law to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil war. The war pitted a left leaning, democratically elected Spanish government against a military uprising led by Francisco Franco and supported, with weapons and tens of thousands of troops, by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. By the time it was over, fascism had triumphed in Spain, and more than 400 Canadians were dead.

Until now, little was known about these men and women, and about those who survived. Petrou has changed this. He has drawn on recently declassified material, interviewed veterans, and visited the battlefields of Spain to write the definitive history of Canadians in the war. Jack Granatstein, one of Canada’s leading military historians, concludes: “Based on massive research, this is the best and most complete account of Canadians in the Spanish Civil War we are ever likely to get.”

Renegades reveals that Spanish Civil War veterans were pressured to become police informers, with the cooperation of the federal government; that a 1970 application by a veterans' group for non-profit status was opposed by the federal government out of fear that approving the application might offend Spain's fascist dictator, Francisco Franco; and that the RCMP spied on Canadian veterans at least until 1980, when one police report noted that the veterans’ “political motivations are more in keeping with the NDP philosophies.”

Other highlights include:

  • Detailed and vivid descriptions of the battles the Canadians fought, and their lives in Spain between action. The stories of Canadian prisoners of war are also told – as are accounts of Canadians who were imprisoned and otherwise punished, sometimes severely, by their own commanders.
  • New and sensational information about Dr. Norman Bethune, whom Spanish authorities accused of espionage and of having a secretly fascist lover.
  • The story of a young University Toronto student who was jailed as a suspected spy and was lucky to leave Spain alive. After reading recently declassified documents from Soviet archives about this man, Petrou tracked him down and interviewed him at the age of 90.
Michael Petrou, a senior writer at Maclean's magazine, has covered wars and conflicts across Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. He holds a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford. He lives in Ottawa with his family.
Title:Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil WarFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.98 × 5.95 × 0.81 inPublished:April 12, 2008Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774814187

ISBN - 13:9780774814188

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Table of Contents

Preface: Spanish Tinderbox


Part 1: Origins of the Volunteers

1 Who Were the Canadian Volunteers?

2 Why Did They Fight?

Part 2: International Brigades

3 Going to War

4 Protecting Madrid

5 Aragón Battles

6 Retreats

7 Back to the Ebro

8 Leaving Spain

Part 3: Discipline in the International Brigades

9 Crimes

10 Punishments

Part 4: Renegades

11 The Photographer: Bill Williamson

12 The Idealist: William Krehm

13 The Doctor: Norman Bethune

Part 5: Aftermath

14 Undesirables

15 Conclusion



Bibliography; Index

Editorial Reviews

Between 1936 and 1939, almost 1,700 Canadians defied their government and volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War. They left behind punishing lives in Canadian relief camps, mines, and urban flophouses to confront fascism in a country few knew much about. Michael Petrou has drawn on recently declassified archival material, interviewed surviving Canadian veterans, and visited the battlefields of Spain to write the definitive account of Canadians in the Spanish Civil War. Renegades is an intimate and unflinching story of idealism and courage, duplicity and defeat.More than 1,600 Canadian men and women fought to save Spain’s republic from its fascist opponents; over 400 died in the struggle. Not until the Cold War was over could Michael Petrou get us the fascinating details of who and what and why so many Canadians struggled and died in a war the democracies made it easy for General Francisco Franco to win. - Desmond Morton, author of A Military History of Canada