Paul Preston

Sir Paul Preston CBE (born 21 July 1946 in Liverpool) is an English historian and Hispanist, biographer of Franco, specialist in Spanish history, in particular the Spanish Civil War, which he has studied for more than 30 years. He is the winner of multiple awards for his books on the Spanish Civil War.[1]

Paul Preston
Paul Preston MHC.jpg
Preston in 2004
Born (1946-06-21) 21 June 1946 (age 74)
Academic background
Academic work
Era20th & 21st century
InstitutionsLondon School of Economics


Paul Preston on a visit to Spain in 2008

Preston was born in 1946 in Liverpool. Preston said in an interview that he has sympathy for the Second Spanish Republic: "I came from a fairly left-wing family. You could not really be from working-class Liverpool and not be left-wing. Emotionally, in my feeling for the Republic I think there is an element of indignation about the Republic's defeat, solidarity with the losing side. Maybe that's why I support Everton, although Everton wasn't the losing side in my day."[2]

Since 1991 Professor Preston has taught at the London School of Economics, where he is Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies and director of the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies.

He is a frequent visitor to Spain, where his work appears in Spanish and Catalan. He speaks both Spanish and Catalan.[3]

He has a wife, Gabriella, to whom he dedicated The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain.[4]


Preston has produced a biography of Franco (Basic Books, 1994). He has also published a biography of King Juan Carlos I (2003).

Recent books include ones on the subject of foreign correspondents who reported on the Spanish Civil War and Franco's control of his generals. In 2012 he published the English edition of the Spanish Holocaust.[5] This book represents a challenge to the pact of forgetting,[6] examining the many deaths and atrocities associated with the Spanish Civil War, and following the Francoist repression into the early 1950s.[7]

The book was criticised by Stanley Payne; while Payne did praise Preston for his depth and breadth of research into atrocities in and after the war, he criticised Preston for bias when it came to Republican atrocities, as well as arguing that Preston's characterisation of the Nationalists as planning to exterminate their opponents is contradicted by the fact that the overwhelming majority Spanish left was still alive after the wartime and postwar executions, despite being completely at Franco's mercy. Payne argues that Franco's policy was to simply eliminate the leaders and main activists of the Republicans while letting most of the rank and file go free.[8]


  • — (1978). The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: Reform, Reaction and Revolution in the Second Republic 1931-1936. London: Macmillan.[9]
  • — (1993). Franco: A Biography by Paul Preston. HarperCollins.[10]
  • — (1993). Franco: A biography. London: HarperCollins.[11]
  • — (1999). ¡Comrades! Portraits from the Spanish Civil War. London: HarperCollins.[12]
  • — (2002). Doves of War: Four Women of Spain. London: HarperCollins.[13]
  • — (2004). Juan Carlos: A People's King. London: HarperCollins.[14][n. 1]
  • — (2006). The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge. London: HarperCollins.[15]
  • — (2008). El gran manipulador. La mentira cotidiana de Franco. Barcelona: Ediciones B.[16]
  • — (2009). We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War. London: Constable and Robinson.[15]
  • — (2012). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London: Harper Press.[17]
  • — (2013). El zorro rojo, la vida de Santiago Carrillo. Madrid: Debate.[18]
  • — (2016). The Last Days of The Spanish Republic. London: William Collins.[19]
  • — (2020). A People Betrayed: A History of Corruption, Political Incompetence and Social Division in Modern Spain 1874-2018. London: William Collins.
  • Paul Preston, ed. (1976). Spain in Crisis: Evolution and Decline of the Franco Regime. London: Branch Line.
  • Paul Preston, ed. (1976). Leviátan: Antologia. Ediciones Turner.
  • Paul Preston, ed. (2001). Revolution and War in Spain, 1931-1939. Routledge.

Awards and honoursEdit


Informational notes
  1. ^ Published in the US with the subtitle: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy.
  1. ^ Night Waves, BBC Radio Three, 6 March 2012
  2. ^ "The man who can't say no: Preston is working harder than ever". 2013.
  3. ^ (in Spanish) 2007 Cadena SER interview Archived 20 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, accessed via El País website
  4. ^ The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, pg. 530
  5. ^ Spanish and Catalan editions appeared in 2011. España masacrada, El País.
  6. ^ Treglown (February 2012). "The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston: review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  7. ^ Tremlett, Giles (March 2012). "The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  8. ^ Payne, Stanley "The History War", Wall Street Journal, 12.10.2012, retrieved 14.10.2019
  9. ^ Lannon, Frances (1980). "Book reviews". West European Politics. 3 (2): 268–269. doi:10.1080/01402388008424284.
  10. ^ McLynn, Frank (7 November 1993). "The folly of appeasement". The Independent.
  11. ^ Smyth, Denis (1996). "Franco Cunctator". The International History Review. 18 (3): 629–640. JSTOR 40107499.
  12. ^ Pulpillo Leiva, Carlos (2016). "Acercamiento bibliográfico a las relaciones hispano-británicas durante la Guerra Civil Española" (PDF). La Albolafia: Revista de Humanidades y Cultura (9): 44. ISSN 2386-2491.
  13. ^ Brendon, Piers (1 June 2002). "Love and death on the front line". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Brendon, Piers (5 June 2004). "From a pawn to a king". The Guardian.
  15. ^ a b Romero Salvadó, Francisco J. (2014). "Investigando el laberinto español en el Reino Unido". Studia Historica. Historia Contemporánea. Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca. 32: 455, 461. ISSN 0213-2087.
  16. ^ Reig Tapia, Alberto (2007). "Preston, Paul: El gran manipulador. La mentira cotidiana de Franco, Ediciones B, Barcelona, 2008, 371 pp". Historia Contemporánea. Bilbao: Universidad del País Vasco (35): 867–872. ISSN 1130-2402.
  17. ^ García‐Guerrero, Isaac (2015). "Preston, Paul The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth‐Century Spain , London: Harper Press, 2012, 700 pp. £30.00 (hbk)". Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. 15 (2). doi:10.1111/sena.12145.
  18. ^ Buj, Serge (2016). "Santiago Carrillo, une biographie de Paul Preston". Cahiers de civilisation espagnole contemporaine (16). ISSN 1957-7761.
  19. ^ Webster, Jason (19 March 2016). "Franco's bloody finale". The Spectator.
  20. ^ Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación: "Real Decreto 1455/2006, de 1 de diciembre, por el que se concede la Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica al señor Paul Preston, Director del Centro Cañada-Blanch de Estudios Españoles Contemporáneos en la London School of Economics" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (288): 42534. 2 December 2006. ISSN 0212-033X.
  21. ^ Alison Flood (5 October 2012). "Six books to 'change our view of the world' on shortlist for non-fiction prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  22. ^ ACN (12 November 2012). "La Fundació Lluís Carulla atorga el Premi d'Honor a l'historiador Paul Preston". Vilaweb. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  23. ^

External linksEdit