A Stranger in Spain

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AStrangerinSpainH.V. Morton was described by The Times years ago as “One of the world’s great travel writers.” He has written “The stranger who wishes to approach Spain with sympathy and appreciation must do so through its history.” Following his pronouncement, the book is the story of Morton, a leisurely, curious traveler, writing about interesting events in the history of Spain, about its countryside and its people, as he ambles, some years after World War II, from one end of the country to the other.

Famous as well as infamous personages and events enliven the twelve hundred years of Spanish history covered by the book, from the occupation of Spain by the Moors in 711 CE to the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, starting in 1939. Some of the more colorful and improbable participants include Richard Coeur de Lion, Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire as well as multiple Habsburgs, Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella, caliphs of Cordoba, artists like Velásquez and Goya, Queen Joan the Mad, Henry VII of England and Isabel of Castile, to name a few. But many of his interesting anecdotes involve chance encounters with ordinary citizens.

Morton has a talent for bringing historical characters and events to life. For anyone contemplating a trip to Spain, familiarity with this book should make that experience more meaningful, but a trip to Spain is not required to enjoy reading it. Morton has also written numerous books about travel in France, Italy and England that are equally enjoyable.

Fred Rubinstein

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