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9780192802361 / 0192802364

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About the book:

Spain, influential historians once maintained, was an "exceptional" country--meaning that, in many key respects, it lay outside the course of European history. Unlike any other nation of Western Europe, Spain was for centuries the province of Islamic rulers, and the crowned heads of other parts of the continent scorned it as an "oriental," necessarily backward nation--when in many ways it was considerably more advanced than its neighbors.

The exceptionalist view of Spanish history was misguided and damaging, writes the eminent historian Raymond Carr, but it was one that many Spanish people accepted: to them, it helped explain why Spain, once so mighty and rich an empire, should have fallen behind while the rest of Europe grew stronger and wealthier, and why a retrograde ruler like Franco could have remained in power when democracy flourished elsewhere.

Carr and his colleagues, including several Spanish scholars, seek to restore Spain to the mainstream of European history in this highly useful survey. Taking in a view that extends deep into prehistory and forward to the recent presidential elections, the contributors emphasize the diversity of Spain's many peoples, whose union under the kings and queens of Castile and Aragon would bring so much of the world under Spanish dominion, and the difficulty of maintaining that political union in the recent climate of ethnic and regional rivalry. --Gregory McNamee

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