A Lesson in Charity

Hywel Davies’s book Fleeing Franco is a touching account of the lives of the Basque refugee children who were displaced from their homes during the Spanish Civil War and taken in by various humanitarian groups in Wales.  Although Davies does present pithy summaries of the political and social events surrounding the period, the text is primarily composed of several detailed vignettes that follow the lives of individual refugee children and the characteristics of the Welsh communities that came to their aid.  Consequently, Freeing Franco presents a moving portrait of Welsh charity across national and party lines, solidifying their endearing inclination “to be on the side of the oppressed against the oppressor.” (Davies, 19)

The most universally significant point that Davies makes in this book can be found early on in his response to the idea that Welsh charity during the Spanish Civil War has been exaggerated due to sentimentality and the use of a narrow historical lens: “Incredulity is not the same as insight. Scepticism is not converted into truth by nature of its novelty alone.” (Davies, 27)  This statement provides an important caveat to readers of any genre of criticism.  It is important to be able to discern the validity of any author’s thesis based on their synthesis and analysis of supporting evidence rather than their ability to create a facile and contradictory series of allegations against a popularly held belief.

Do you feel that Davies himself reveals any particular biases in Fleeing Franco?  If so, what are they?

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