Heart of Spain:
Photographs of the Spanish Civil War

Robert Capa

Aperture 1999
A book review by Danny Yee © 2004 http://dannyreviews.com/
War photographer Robert Capa (born André Friedmann in Budapest in 1913) first attained fame through his photographs of the Spanish Civil War. The core of Heart of Spain consists of some one hundred and twenty of these. Capa made several visits to Spain and his photographs cover many of the key events and regions of the war, from Barcelona in August 1936 to internment camps for Republican refugees in France in 1939: the siege of Madrid, Bilbao, Teruel, the disbandment of the International Brigades, Rio Segre, Barcelona, the flight to the French border, and more.

The photographs have captions but no commentary; scattered among them are a few poems and speeches by participants. Context is provided by three essays, one on anti-fascism and the background of the Civil War, one on Capa's life and the itinerary of his trips to Spain (and some controversy over his most famous photo), and one on women in the Civil War. A slightly larger selection of photographs is included as thumbnails, along with some commentary.

The result is a powerful set of photographs. Their dominant feature is a focus on people, and on civilians as well as soldiers.

"Capa understood that the truth about war was to be found not only in the heat of battle but also behind the lines, in the faces of soldiers enduring cold, fatigue, and tedium. Many of his greatest images of war are profoundly sympathetic and compassionate studies of ordinary men and women called upon to perform extraordinary service for their country or for a cause in which they passionately believed."
I was drawn to Heart of Spain because of my fascination with the Spanish Civil War, but Capa's photographs are much broader in their reach; they may also appeal to those not normally drawn to war photography at all.

February 2004

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- books about Spain + Spanish history
- more photography
- books about war + military history
%T Heart of Spain
%S Photographs of the Spanish Civil War
%A Capa, Robert
%I Aperture
%D 1999
%O large format, b&w photographs
%G ISBN 0893818313
%P 200pp