Lord of All the Dead
A nonfiction novel
Javier Cercas, Anne McLean
From the internationally renowned author of The Impostor, a courageous journey into his own family history and that of a country collapsing from a fratricidal war--his most moving, most personal book, one he has spent his entire life preparing to write.
Javier Cercas grew up hearing the legend of his adored great-uncle Manuel Mena, who died at nineteen in the bloodiest battle of the Spanish Civil War--while fighting for Franco's army. Who was this young man? A fascist hero whose memory is an embarrassment or a committed idealist who happened to fall on the wrong side of history? Is it possible to be a moral person defending an immoral cause? Through visits back to his parents' village in southern Spain, interviews with survivors, and research into the murkiest corners of the war, the author pieces together the life of this enigmatic figure and of an entire generation. This sui generis work combines intimate family history, investigative scholarship, personal confession, war stories, and road trips, finally becoming a transcendent portrait of a country's indelible scars--a book about heroism, death, the persistence of the past, and the meaning of an individual life against the tapestry of history.