The Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939) suffered one of the most accelerated cases of democratic decline in European history. In 1931, Spain established a liberal, republican, democratic constitution on a wide basis of popular and elite support. In just a few years, the constitution was in ruins and Spain was at war with itself. How did this happen? Too often, Americans are taught a simpleminded morality tale about this period: the fascists destroyed democracy. But the true story of Spain’s troubled republic is much more interesting and instructive. It shows how democratic regimes can die from self-inflicted wounds.

Stanley Payne, professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has spent his career studying the Second Spanish Republic and its aftermath. After completing his master’s degree at the Claremont Graduate School and receiving his doctorate from Columbia University in 1960, he first published scholarly studies of the Spanish far Right. He was one of the first historians to examine the causes of the Spanish Civil War, at a time when most writing on the subject was mired in partisan propaganda. Having established himself as an expert on modern Spanish history, Payne advised Congress during Spain’s transition to democracy in the 1970s. Writing in both English and Spanish, he has published almost 200 popular and academic articles on Spanish,

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