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In Hiding: The Life of Manuel Cortés

“So brief and yet so complete, so movingly human.”—Arthur Miller, New York Times
In Hiding is the spellbinding story of a man who spent thirty years holed up in his own home to escape execution. Manuel Cortés was a Socialist Party member, an activist in the Republic’s land reform movement, and an organizer in the farm workers’ unionization struggles. As Mayor of Mijas in Andalusia, he became caught up in the ferment of revolutionary Spain in the late 1930s.

A marked man, he evaded Franco’s execution squads to survive in hiding through a generation of persecution and terror until amnesty was decreed in 1969—a period of thirty years. With his wife and daughter, he attempted to escape to France, but failed. In this absorbing narrative, based on numerous interviews with the mayor conducted by Ronald Fraser, a master of oral history, Cortés’s truly awe-inspiring ordeal is supplemented by his family’s life histories and experiences during the Civil War.

A haunting tale and a monument to the art of the oral historian, In Hiding reminds us what the Spanish Civil War was really about.

Reviews

  • “In the mountain of books about the war there cannot be another so brief and yet so complete, so unguarded and yet so subtle, so movingly human as this.”
  • “[In Hiding] bears [Fraser's] trademark style, a kind of literary anthropology that tells sweeping stories with a pointillist logic ... Scrupulous about structure and detail, his tales are unfailingly readable—from his depiction of a Spanish village in Tajos to his oral history of the civil war, The Blood of Spain.”
  • “A truly fascinating account.”

Blog

  • "Scalped to the bone by the heat and drought"—an extract from Ronald Fraser's novel Drought

    The below is an extract from Drought: A Novel, by the eminent oral historian of Spain Ronald Fraser and recently republished by Verso.

    This extract follows British journalist John Black, recuperating in the arid, parched Andalusian village of Benalamar, one that is almost untouched since the end of the Civil War.  It is a community reeling from the death of a local farmer, Miguel, who killed himself ostensibly over access to the vast reserves of water that are spilling uselessly back into the ground that could otherwise sate the community over the long, hot summer.  Amongst the turmoil, a foreign businessman arrives into the village with plans to save the day...


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  • New Left Review - new issue out now

    The May/June issue of New Left Review is out now, featuring the following essays:

    Susan Watkins: Another Turn of the Screw?

    Beneath the rolling surface of the Euro-crisis, a further chapter of the EU integration project is underway. Susan Watkins on the institutional machinery Berlin is imposing across the Union, and the political stakes – and hypocrisies – laid bare by the struggle.

    Michel Aglietta: The European Vortex

    Global economic turmoil has exposed the structural flaws in the single currency. Amid deepening divergences between industrial north and debt-laden south, Michel Aglietta assesses the Eurozone’s chances of recovery, and the impact of its continued travails on the world economy.
    Michel Aglietta is author of A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The US Experience.

    Perry Anderson Ronald Fraser

    Tribute to the author of Blood of Spain, locating the impulse behind his oeuvre in a commitment to explore lived experience. Reconstructions of work, war, politics and subjectivity, from Napoleonic era to post-Fordist present.
    Amongst others, Perry Anderson is the author of The New Old World and Spectrum.

    Ronald Fraser: Politics as Daily Life

    How are collective mobilizations refracted through the prism of personal experience – and in what conditions can individual histories be constituted as history? Ronald Fraser reflects on memory, method and militancy.
    Ronald Fraser is author of In Hiding, In Search of a Past  and Napoleon's Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War, 1808-1814.

    Alèssi Dell’Umbria: The Sinking of Marseille

    The recent fate of France’s second city – post-war decline followed by modish resurgence – seen in the longe durée by its radical historian. A social and political archaeology  of Marseille, amid the steady dismantling of its urban worlds.

    Roberto Schwarz: Political Iridescence

    Brazil’s foremost literary critic engages with the autobiography of Caetano Veloso, its best-known musician. The dense wave of relations between 60s counter-culture and left movements, and its rending by years of dictatorship and capitalist triumph.
    Roberto Schwarz is the author of forthcoming Verso book, Two Girls

    The issue also features the following book reviews:

    Fredric Jameson on Francis Spufford, Red Plenty. A documentary-cum-fable reconstructs the lost future of the Khrushchev era.
    Visit NLR to read the review.
    Amongst others, Fredric Jameson is the author of Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One.

    Tom Hazeldine on D. R. Thorpe, Supermac. Lengthy apologia for Harold Macmillan from a serial Tory biographer.
    Visit NLR to read the review.

    Gregory Elliot on Lucio Magri, The Tailor of Ulm. The trajectory of Italian communism, analysed by an unillusioned participant-observer.
    Visit NLR to read the review.

    Paul Buhle on Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage. Chronicle of the United Farm Workers and their mercurial leader, Cesar Chavez.
    Visit NLR to read the review.
    Paul Buhle is author of It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest.

    Visit the New Left Review to access the new issue or subscribe.

  • Ronald Fraser: 1930 - 2012

    We are sad to announce the death on 10th February of Ronald Fraser, the most distinguished English historian of Spain, and a member of the New Left Trust. Ronnie played a huge part in helping to establish, first New Left Review (as its Business Manager in 1963) and later New Left Books, the parent company of Verso in 1969. Till the very end he kept a watchful, if distant, eye on both institutions.

    From the very beginning he was a great exponent of interviewing working people (in Britain) and peasants (in the villages of Andalucia) as a way to create a new historical archive based on the experiences of the subaltern classes. The existence of both New Left Review and Verso owes a great deal to his business skills at a time when left intellectuals regarded money matters as ‘vulgar' and not worth too much thought.

    In the near future we will be organising an evening in London to pay homage to his work. In the meantime the tribute he would have greatly appreciated was a new generation of scholars and activists finding a way to his books.

    Tariq Ali

    UPDATE: His obituary in the Guardian, written by Tariq Ali.

    UPDATE 21st Feb: His obituary in the New York Times, written by Douglas Martin.

    UPDATE 22nd Feb: His obituary in the Washington Post, written by Matt Schudel.

    For writing by Ronald Fraser, see below.

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Other books by Ronald Fraser