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It goes without saying that an Orwell book comes recommended, and HOMAGE TO CATALONIA is indeed a fascinating account of the politics and lived experience of the Spanish Civil War. But the narration, while not the worst I have heard on audible, detracts from the overall experience. He fails to convey the irony and bemusement of the text, and as others have remarked, the accent doesn't sound right.
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The narrative follows Orwell's experiences as a militiaman fighting for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, but the fascinating aspect of the book is Orwell's growing awareness of, and dissatisfaction with, the political environment. One sees, or hears, Orwell go through several stages: his realization of the political infighting on the Loyalist side; his recognition that Soviet geopolitical aims did not accord with those of the Spanish working class; his amazement that the infighting would be allowed to compromise the war against Franco; and his disbelief and finally disgust at the tactics of those following the Soviet line against their supposed allies.
Orwell was both a witness to and a near-victim of the progression of attacks of a totalitarian movement similar to those that were comprehensively described elsewhere by Hannah Arendt. Orwell recognized that the attacks of the Communists against their more radical counterparts needed no basis in fact, yet he hadn't quite accepted that truth, as he went out of his way to disprove the charges. By the time of "Animal Farm" and "1984", he would have internalized this lesson and depicted it in all its basic cruelty. A fascinating question is whether those later books would have been possible without Orwell's experiences in Spain.
Orwell described the horrors and misery of war, but one definitely gets the sense that he would have thought them all worthwhile if his idealistic faith in working class solidarity had not been shattered.
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