This is one of those Ospreys that packs a lot of information into its limited space. Quesada covers Franco's Spanish and colonial troops, the Italian and German units sent by Mussolini and Hitler, and the other foreign volunteers. It covers the army, air force and navy, as well as the various forms of paramilitary police that existed in Spain before the outbreak of war. We also get an introduction that covers the pre-revolt period and reminds us that the Spanish Civil War wasn't a simple case of fascist rebels versus a peaceful democratic government. In the pre-war period there were atrocities committed on both sides, with Anarchist groups and anti-Clerical forces responsible for most of those on the left.
There is a tendency to assume that nearly all genuine foreign volunteers served on the Republican side, but here we see that this wasn't the case. The Portuguese dictator supported Franco (even though some of Franco's supports wanted to force a union between Spain and Portugal), and although an attempt to send an official Portuguese contingent failed, a large number of volunteers did go. There was also a sizable Irish unit on Franco's side, led by a former IRA man, and largely inspired by the idea that the war was being fought to defend the Catholic Church. This group didn’t perform all that well, and the survivors eventually returned home.
As well as looking at where Franco got his original troops from, we also see how his army expanded during the war, and how the structure of the army changed over time. We get a good feel for the coalition nature of Franco's army, with his own supporters, Carlists and Falangists each providing significant numbers of troops, and each having their own motives for fighting. As always the text is covered by good pictures, showing almost all of the troop types discussed. This is a useful examination of Franco's fighting forces, looking beyond the much-studied German contingent.
Background to Rebellion
The National Army
The Air Force
Author: Alejandro de Quesada