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Violencia - A New History of Spain

Out 3 October

'As opinionated as it is fascinating. Even on periods I know well, I found it illuminating and always provocative. Moreover, as is to be expected from the man who writes such intriguing crime novels, it is beautifully written and extremely witty.'

Paul Preston

‘Violencia is a thrilling, page-turning adventure that spans the glittering expanse of Spanish history. Webster travels the horizon of Spain with the head-on confidence of the insider who has lived his subject, deftly bringing to life the grandeur, tragedy and mystery of the country which continues to the shape the identity of Europe and the world beyond.’

Jason Elliot

‘Jason Webster has written sensitively and knowledgeably about Spain for years. In this fine new history, his deep affection for the country is evident, as is his concern about its future.’

Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker

An absolutely fascinating book about a country we don't know enough about.’

Iain Dale, LBC


Deep fault lines are appearing in Spain: extremist groups are on the rise, a region on the fringe pushes for independence. But the country’s history shows this is nothing new. After centuries locked in bloody civil war, can democracy ever work? In Violencia, Jason Webster tells the story of Spain from its origins to the present day, drawing on rich anecdote and decades of research to uncover its genius both for cruelty and enlightened thought. He shows how Spanish history is in danger of repeating itself and argues that the country has long predicted developments in the West.

Spanish history is rarely seen as a whole, not least by the Spanish themselves. Yet viewed in its entirety patterns emerge from the Moors to the Conquest of the Americas and the Spanish Civil War: every century has seen violent internal conflict, while the only form of government which has united the country has been violent authoritarianism. 

Spain is often overlooked by her neighbours, yet events there have presaged developments elsewhere for centuries, from the Crusades to Western colonialism, the Second World War, the Cold War, and the Occupy movement. Spanish history has produced brilliant lights which have shaped the world. Western culture – from rational thought to the Renaissance and the birth of the novel - would be unrecognisable without the country’s influence. But Spain is a Cassandra, doomed to foresee the future while those around her remain blind to her talents. 

Is Spain about to replay its past by resolving its current problems through violence? Or can it find another way? Only with Troy’s destruction was Cassandra proved right. When will the West start listening to Spain’s message about what may soon come to pass elsewhere?