Lord of All the Dead
Javier Cercas, Anne McLean
Lord of All the Dead is a courageous journey into Javier Cercas’ family history and that of a country collapsing from a fratricidal war. The author revisits Ibahernando, his parents’ village in southern Spain, to research the life of Manuel Mena. This ancestor, dearly loved by Cercas’ mother, died in combat at the age of nineteen during the battle of the Ebro, the bloodiest episode in Spain’s history.
Who was Manuel Mena? A fascist hero whose memory is an embarrassment to the author, or a young idealist who happened to fight on the wrong side? And how should we judge him, as grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that generation, interpreting history from our supposed omniscience and the misleading
perspective of a present full of automatic answers, that fails to consider the particularities of each personal and family drama?
Wartime epics, heroism and death are some of the underlying themes of this unclassifiable novel that combines road trips, personal confessions, war stories and historical scholarship, finally becoming an incomparable tribute to the author’s mother and the incurable scars of an entire generation.
A powerful work of D.I.Y. history . . . It may help Spaniards, and people further afield, to better understand the lure of Fascism, a pressing task in today's world" * New Yorker * A brave, persuasive novel -- Jose-Carlos Mainer * El Pais * Only Cercas could have written a novel like this, at the peak of his maturity as a writer; he is one of the best we have -- Jose Maria Pozuelo Yvancos * ABC * An admirable novel, truly unique -- Alberto Moreiras * La marea * An excellent novel . . . fascinating both in its exploration of the past and in the playful creativity of its own narrative. -- Angel Basanta * El Cultural * It's a subversive and disenchanted view of war in general and the Spanish conflict in particular, in a fine translation by Anne McLean . . . It can be moving, unexpectedly funny, racy, demotic or deadpan. -- Lee Langley * Spectator * One of the strengths of Lord of All the Dead is the breadth of its subject matter. . . In this elegant and penetrating narrative Cercas shows us how important it is that Mena's life is not forgotten -- Nick Major * Glasgow Herald * Cercas' candid wranglings with how to tell this tale, his own deep discomfort and the grave maturity with which he acknowledges he can't feel morally superior to Mena make him a wonderfully warm and wise guide through this sad, small chapter of the Spanish Civil War. -- Siobhan Murphy * The Times * A remarkable act of personal history: brave, revelatory and unflinchingly honest -- William Boyd There is no-one writing in English like this: engaged humanity achieving a hard-won wisdom -- David Mills * The Times *
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