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One of the oldest and most familiar tropes in the historiography of the American Civil War argues that the conflict posed an urban industrial Union against a rural agricultural Confederacy.
Writing some thirty years ago, Brian Bond noted that ‘strictly speaking, total war is just as much a myth as total victory or total peace’.(1) Undoubtedly, too, some wars – even world wars – were more total than others. If in the First World War civilians suffered indirectly from shortages, separations, blockade, etc., it was still the solders that did most of the dying.
At least three factors go towards explaining why the destruction of Spanish cities during the Civil War (1936–9) and the subsequent reconstruction efforts have long been overlooked and under-studied.