This very valuable book looks at the Peninsular War from the point of view of the Spanish civilians - the people who triggered the first provincial uprisings in 1808, filled the numerous Spanish armies and
This is not just a history of the Spanish guerillas. Although they provide the most famous example of popular resistance to Napoleon in Spain, they are only part of the story. With the Spanish bourbons prisoners in France, the provincial uprisings were all examples of popular resistance, with (admittedly often carefully controlled) crowds forcing the local authorities to move.
The main focus of Fraser's work is the people involved in the struggle - looking at who were they, why did they take part in the fighting and what did they want to achieve. Fraser makes use of his immense amount of detailed knowledge of the period brilliantly, bringing it alive in a way that is very rare.
In some ways this book contains an unusual mix of styles, with sections of detailed statistics (on the number and size of guerilla bands for instance) but also accounts of individual experiences of the fighting. For me this is actually one of the book's strengths, for Fraser gives us both a meticulously well researched account of what happened and a feel for the impact it had in some of the individuals involved.
Fraser does not neglect the more traditional military aspects of the struggle, for one of the ways in which popular resistance to the French manifested itself was the ease with which the Spanish could find new recruits for their armies.
This is a very valuable contribution to the English language literature on the Peninsular War, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the war.
1 Spain and the French Connection
2 Preliminaries of War
3 The First Shots of the War
4 Declaration of War: The National Rising
5 New Self-Government: The Juntas
6 Early Victories and Defeats: Lessons of the Popular War
7 Soldiers at the Front and Rural Conflict in the Rear
8 Fatherland and Nation: A National Patriotic Government
9 Napoleon's 1808 Offensive
10 The Contagion of Defeat: Popular Revolts and Local Resistance
12 Popular Territorial Liberation Struggles: Galicia and Cataluna
13 The Church at War
14 Origins of the Guerilla
15 From the Battle of Talavera to the Suprema's Demise
17 The Invisible Army: Guerilla Successes and Failures
19 Military Victory and Political Defeat
Author: Ronald Fraser