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Lord of All the Dead

On sale

19th March 2020

Price: £10.99

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Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780857058355

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Lord of All the Dead is a courageous journey into Javier Cercas’ family history and that of a country collapsing from a fratricidal war. The author revisits Ibahernando, his parents’ village in southern Spain, to research the life of Manuel Mena. This ancestor, dearly loved by Cercas’ mother, died in combat at the age of nineteen during the battle of the Ebro, the bloodiest episode in Spain’s history.

Who was Manuel Mena? A fascist hero whose memory is an embarrassment to the author, or a young idealist who happened to fight on the wrong side? And how should we judge him, as grandchildren and great-grandchildren of that generation, interpreting history from our supposed omniscience and the misleading
perspective of a present full of automatic answers, that fails to consider the particularities of each personal and family drama?

Wartime epics, heroism and death are some of the underlying themes of this unclassifiable novel that combines road trips, personal confessions, war stories and historical scholarship, finally becoming an incomparable tribute to the author’s mother and the incurable scars of an entire generation.

Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean


José-Carlos Mainer, El País
A brave, persuasive novel
Ángel Basanta, El Cultural
An excellent novel . . . fascinating both in its exploration of the past and in the playful creativity of its own narrative.
Alberto Moreiras, La marea
An admirable novel, truly unique
José María Pozuelo Yvancos, ABC
Only Cercas could have written a novel like this, at the peak of his maturity as a writer; he is one of the best we have
William Boyd
A remarkable act of personal history: brave, revelatory and unflinchingly honest
David Mills, The Times
There is no-one writing in English like this: engaged humanity achieving a hard-won wisdom
Siobhan Murphy, The Times
Cercas' candid wranglings with how to tell this tale, his own deep discomfort and the grave maturity with which he acknowledges he can't feel morally superior to Mena make him a wonderfully warm and wise guide through this sad, small chapter of the Spanish Civil War.
Nick Major, Glasgow Herald
One of the strengths of Lord of All the Dead is the breadth of its subject matter. . . In this elegant and penetrating narrative Cercas shows us how important it is that Mena's life is not forgotten
Lee Langley, Spectator
It's a subversive and disenchanted view of war in general and the Spanish conflict in particular, in a fine translation by Anne McLean . . . It can be moving, unexpectedly funny, racy, demotic or deadpan.
Giles Harvey, New Yorker
A powerful work of D.I.Y. history . . . It may help Spaniards, and people further afield, to better understand the lure of Fascism, a pressing task in today's world"