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Alvah Bessie’s battle of words to save Spain from fascism

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This article discusses Alvah Bessie’s journey from a struggling but gifted writer to an outcast of popular culture. Bessie’s Communist Party affiliation was a consequence of his political tendency towards social justice and was fortified by his experience in the Spanish Civil War, but was less substantial than his radicalization or fixation on subsequent events in Spain throughout the twentieth century. Presented in a biographical context, this article uses several forgotten and unpublished writings by Bessie from his archives and private family collections, together with more accessible works. What he saw in Spain enhanced his radical politics, which became his principal preoccupation. This article deals more specifically with this than any previously written. His strong opposition to fascism took him to Hollywood where he worked on propaganda supporting the war effort. While the film industry quickly discarded him, Bessie never relinquished his fight to free Spain from fascism and maintain public awareness beyond its borders of corresponding forces of oppression outside of that country.
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Keywords: Alvah Bessie; Hollywood Ten; Lincoln Batallion; Red Scare; Spanish Civil War; propaganda; radical politics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universidad de Cádiz

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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