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"During his six years working for St Helens Council Education Department, Paul was, among other things, our in-house "languages expert", doing the translating, interpreting and liaison with our twin towns in Chalon-Sur-Saône, France, Stuttgart, Germany and El Prat de Llobregat, Spain. His participation has enabled us to maintain strong links with all three towns, particularly in the field of education, where he set up and managed a very successful work experience programme for sixth formers"
Brian Mainwaring, Director of Education, St Helens Council, August 1995

Ghosts of Spain PDF
Monday, 22 February 2010 00:00

altToday I finished reading Giles Tremlett’s “Ghosts of Spain”, his personal account of Spain’s history since the Spanish Civil War and an assessment of the character of the people who live within its boundaries.  It’s a fascinating read.  

Subtitled “Travels Through a Country’s Hidden Past”, Tremlett, Madrid correspondent of the Guardian, tackles the tricky issues raised by that bloody conflict more than 6 decades ago and the implications of the Pact of Forgetting, the Law of Historical Memory and the country’s determination to discredit the dictator Franco. Published in 2006, it deals with the March 2004 Madrid train bombings and the election three days later of a socialist government, yet unfortunately stops as Spain is riding the crest of the economic  boom  with high employment  - no longer the case, obviously.  However, and this is quite fascinating, you can keep up with changes by turning to the book’s accompanying website at

Tremlett travels throughout the peninsula to research his work, from the troublesome Basque country, to nationalistic Catalonia, from tranquil, backward Galicia, to the deserted villages of La Mancha.  He tackles the Spanish attitudes to sex, the Roman Catholic church, gypsies, drugs and feminisim.  He looks at the country’s rapid progress since the death of Franco and the craving for all things modern.   He chuckles over their ambivalence to many aspects of life and their continuing anarchic ways.

A long-time resident of Madrid, and a frequent visitor to the country prior to settling in the capital, Tremlett knows lots of people and is well familiar with the ways of this fascinating country.  He poses interesting questions and tries to provide the answers.  I like the book, because it is thoroughly researched, well-written and because his views, particularly of the characteristics and modus operandi of the various “nationalities” within Spain’s borders, coincide largely with those that I myself have built up over a 40-year love affair with the country.

“Ghosts of Spain” is certainly the best book of its type I’ve read in a long time.   I can only recommend it.

Published by Faber & Faber:
Hardback  ISBN: 9780571221677
Published: 16.03.2006
No of pages: 464
RRP:  £16.99  (Amazon £10.38)

Paperback  ISBN: 9780571221684
Published: 15.03.2007
No of pages: 464
RRP:  £9.99  (Amazon £5.96)


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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