The Spanish Civil War was the last in Europe to be fought for idealistic reasons. When it ended, idealism had been totally and tragically defeated.
Hermanos! is about the men and women who came to Spain as volunteers from every corner of the world—Germany, Ireland, the USA and Britain—to join the International Brigades in what they saw as a crusade against fascism. It is about the cruel war they fought, and the terror and murderous fury of the battles in which most died. It is also about the politics of international socialism and of those who infiltrated into Spain and intrigued for power, and the weapons—distortion, secret police, terror, death—they used in a ruthless and cynical exploitation of idealism for their own ends. And it is about those who fought in the streets, crying, “Unios! Hermanos proletarios!”
William Herrick’s Spanish Civil War is far different from Hemingway’s. Equally tragic, equally conscious of the dignity and nobility of the men involved, nevertheless it reveals the harsh and painful reality of the workings of politics. It is also memorable for the passionate story of Jacob Starr and Sarah Ruskin, and for its battle scenes in which Herrick manages to convey, in his sharp, idiosyncratic and sardonic style, the hope and optimism that turned to despair and inevitable defeat.