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Spain has never worked as a democracy. Throughout the country’s history only one system of government has ever enjoyed any real success: dictatorship and the use of violence.

Violence, in fact, is what Spain is made of, lying at the heart of its culture and identity, far more so than any other western European nation. For well over a thousand years, the country has only ever been forged and then been held together through the use of aggression – brutal, merciless terror and warfare directed against its own people. Without it the country breaks apart and Spain ceases to exist – a fact that recent events in Barcelona confirm. Authoritarianism is the Spanish default setting.

Yet Spain has produced many of the most important artists and thinkers in the Western world, from Cervantes, author of the first modern novel, to Goya, the first modern painter. Much of Western artistic expression, in fact, from the Picaresque to Cubism, would be unthinkable without the Spanish contribution. This unique national genius, however, does not exist despite Spain’s violent backdrop; it is, in fact, born out of it. Indeed Spain’s genius and violent nature go hand in hand, locked together in a macabre, elaborate dance. This is the country’s tragedy.

La Violencia unveils this truth for the first time, exposing the bloody heart of Spain – from its origins in the ancient past to the Civil War and the current crisis in Catalonia. La Violencia will be in the tradition of those books which come to define our understanding of a country.


Violencia is a thrilling, page-turning adventure that spans the glittering expanse of Spanish history. Webster travels the horizon of Spain with the head-on confidence of the insider who has lived his subject, deftly bringing to life the grandeur, tragedy and mystery of the country which continues to the shape the identity of Europe and the world beyond
Jason Elliot
Jason Webster's Violencia is as opinionated as it is fascinating. Even on periods that I know well, I found it illuminating and always provocative. Moreover, as is to be expected from the man who writes such intriguing crime novels, it is beautifully written and extremely witty
Paul Preston
A provocative and entertaining trot through the paradoxes of Spanish history and contains much interesting information
Literary Review
Violencia examines Spain from prehistory to the present. It is a delightfully engaging read and a good introduction to Spain's turbulent history
The Times
Webster has produced what is destined to be a hotly-debated narrative of the land he knows so well
History of Way