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Rob’s History Blog, Entry #1

Today I was reminded of one of my favorite stories from history. In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began. On one side were the forces of the slightly left-of-center elected Spanish government, on the other, the hard-right fascists rebels of general Francisco Franco.

After the war began, various journalists went to Spain to cover the action. Among them was the great British novelist George Orwell. Not content with journalism, however, Orwell left his post as a newspaperman and joined a volunteer militia unit fighting against the fascists.

Orwell later wrote a book about his experiences in Spain titled “Homage to Catalonia.” In it, he described his reaction when someone asked him why he left the relative safety of the press corps in order to fight. Orwell said he was fighting for “common decency.”

Common decency. Orwell abhorred authoritarian fascism—its vulgar, uncritical nationalism, its chauvinism, its racism, its scapegoating, its anti-intellectualism, its open militarism and blatant disdain for democratic values.

The nominally democratic powers of the day, the United States, Great Britain, and France, did almost nothing to help the Spanish government. Meanwhile, both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy provided General Franco the military supplies needed to win by 1938. The democracies of the world were more worried by the handful of socialists in the Spanish government than by the oncoming threat of fascism.

The war itself had its brutal moments—it was one of the first conflicts to feature aerial bombing of civilian populations. The most famous of these bombings was at the Spanish town of Guernica, which inspired the epic mural of the same name by Pablo Picasso. Later, a Nazi official met Picasso and asked him if he created the famous piece of art. Picasso’s response was, “No, you did.”

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I hold a PhD in history from the University of Arkansas, where I attended school as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, as well as several other degrees. In addition to my writing and publishing business, I am the History Department Chair at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, where I teach United States History, Western Civilization, Montana History, Environmental History, Civil Rights Movement History, and the occasional Honors class. Besides my love for history, I grew up a sports fan, especially baseball. Once I get all my history books published, you’ll find an entire series of books on baseball in the 1880s. There is at least one non-baseball history book in the works, too, but that era of baseball history fascinates me, and so, after years of researching it, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with the world. In my historical novels, I attempt to bring to light some historical events that are not general knowledge. After all, do we really need another Western novel featuring gunfighters or another courtly romance set in the Middle Ages? Not to put down authors who write those books because there have been many good ones over the years, but I’d like to add something new, something a bit more original. That’s why the main character in my first novel, My Australian Adventure, is a young boy named Clarence Duval who travels the world in 1888 as the mascot for a pair of traveling baseball teams. In the third book (upcoming) in the Clarence Duval Series, he takes part in the removal of Cree Indians from Montana in 1896. Even though the world doesn’t remember it anymore, that was a real event, a repeat in miniature of the Trail of Tears experienced by the Cherokee in the 1830s. When I’m not writing, researching, or teaching, I spend time with my sweetheart of a dog, Ally, and enjoy the outdoors in Western Montana. I also like strategy games, fitness activities, and, of course, reading. I still hope to run that marathon someday.

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