Lord of All the Dead
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In this deeply personal work of historical interrogation, Javier Cercas—“the bard of [the] movement for the recovery of Spain’s suppressed memory” (The New York Times Book Review)—unpacks the legacy of the Spanish Civil War by way of his own family’s history. Growing up, Cercas was inculcated with the legend of his beloved great-uncle, Manuel Mena, who died at nineteen in the bloodiest battle of the Spanish Civil War—while fighting for Franco. Who was this young man? A fascist hero whose memory is now an embarrassment or a committed idealist who happened to fall on the wrong side of history? In Lord of All the Dead, Cercas pieces together the life of his enigmatic relative and in so doing tells the story of an entire generation. Combining intimate family history, investigative scholarship, personal confession, and a novelist’s imagination, Cercas has crafted a transcendent portrait of a country’s indelible scars, a book about heroism, death, the persistence of the past, and the meaning of an individual life against the tapestry of history.