Author(s): Ian Patterson
One of the most terrible ideas of the 20th century was that of total war - war by the obliteration of whole civilian populations. The first and in many ways the most striking use of this came exactly 70 years ago when the ancient Basque hilltop town of Guernica was almost completely destroyed by the bombs of the German Condor Legion and Italian fascist squadrons. The book begins with a graphic account of what happened in Guernica on 26 April 1937 and its place in the course of the Spanish Civil War. But Guernica also almost at once became a media focus, and Picasso's great painting, which made Guernica the most famous image of total war, was only one of a huge number of cultural artefacts - paintings, films, novels, poems, plays - to explore the great themes of the last hundred years. Ian Patterson brilliantly traces this hidden story of terror right down to 9/11 and Iraq - the image of Guernica is just as relevant today.