"I was nineteen years old, still soft at the edges, but with a confident belief in good fortune. I carried a small rolled-up tent, a violin in a blanket, a change of clothes, a tin of treacle biscuits, and some cheese. I was excited, vain-glorious, know¬ing I had far to go; but not, as yet, how far." Despite this romantic and optimistic opening, what Lee finds is the most primitive and feudal country in Europe, a peninsula untouched by the modern world, a land of labor without dignity, a church devoid of compassion, and a country ripe for revolutionary change. There is humor, love, and adolescent awakening, but beneath is a foreboding sense of a savage future, a premonition that a war will come. For Lee, 1936 was the end of innocence, when "it was being learned again that men needed more than courage, anger, slogans, convictions, or even a just cause when they went to war." Thus Lee becomes entangled in the passionate, violent, and bloody struggle that was the Spanish Civil War.
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