Spain: The Root and the Flower by John Crow

The best book on this little-studied corner of Europe I have read so far. The author sees Spanish history mostly as a series of tragedies and disappointments, implying that while the rest of Europe was forging ahead on the path to progress, Spain lagged irremediably behind. But he is full of admiration for the qualities of the Spanish people, although he acknowledges that efficiency and industriousness are not among them. At the risk of sounding bigoted, it seems clear that the preponderant influence of the Catholic Church has had a lot to do with retarding the progress of Spain, but that alone does not sufficiently account for the Spanish debacle. But Spain seems to be finally catching up to modernity, in both good ways and bad, and it appears that its worst days are finally over. It has now taken its place as a member of the European community, and the future looks promising if not spectacular.

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