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The Spanish Civil War has aroused intense interest among authors all over the world, so much so that more books are said to have been written on that period than on the First and Second World Wars put together. For obvious reasons the most extensive bibliography is to be found in Spanish and to a lesser extent in Catalan. However, the English-language reader need not despair. Some of the best writing has been produced in Britain and the United States.
The following bibliography is not meant to be a complete list of the books available on the topic, but a sample of the texts that might be of use to students at this level of study. The bibliography gives a comment on the general use of the book, what it tries to do and whether it is more appropriate for teacher or student. There is reference to three categories (A, B and C).
Category A: recommended as a class text for each student, a source that they would find valuable in their work throughout the course. These could be chosen as main class texts. If chosen, they should of course be read by the students.
Category B: although not considered to be main class texts, these titles are recommended for a class library. They are books which would be of use on individual topics within the course. Some are recommended for specific tasks in the Student Material Pack.
Category C: a more general list that students may wish to consult and use for research purposes for their dissertation. Many of these books may only be available from libraries.
Alpert, Michael, A New International History of the Spanish Civil War, London: Macmillan, 1994
This book is particularly useful for the international aspects of the course. The international dimensions of the war have been the subject of substantial new research, making some earlier works out-of-date. Michael Alpert’s book is an excellent text that provides a more modern, general overview of an important and immensely complex subject. The book is in three parts with Part One looking at the general state of the main powers of Europe and how, in differing degrees, they became involved in the Spanish affair. Part Two examines the contributions made by the powers and the effects these had on each participant. Part Three analyses the effect their relative contribution had, for example the crushing of the Spanish Revolution, German economic penetration and the effect of the Czech crisis. Overall a lucid and scholarly account that covers all aspects of the international dimension.
Beevor, Anthony, The Spanish Civil War, London: Cassell, 1982 (paperback 1999)
A very readable book and a possible alternative to Preston’s A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, this title covers the same areas in approximately the same detail. Beevor’s book has recently been published in paperback, presumably because of the success that his book Stalingrad had with the general public. Beevor describes the origins of the Civil War and its violent and dramatic course from the failed coup d’état in July 1936 through the savagery of the fighting during the following three years to the Republic’s defeat in 1939. Within this framework, Beevor unravels the complex political and regional forces that played such a vital part both in the origins and in the war itself. He gives a particularly good military account of the war. Overall a balanced, compelling account that has only one annoying feature – the small size of the print used throughout the text.
Blinkhorn, Martin, Democracy and Civil War in Spain, London: Routledge, 1988
An excellent student study guide that provides an authoritative introduction to the topic and poses the relevant issues involved in a study of this period. This book, however, is not a detailed account but more an introduction and a revision to the course. Chapter One covers the collapse of the monarchy and a brief account of the problems of the old regime.
Chapter Two deals with the failure of the Second Republic and the collapse into Civil War. Excellent use is made in this chapter, and indeed in the others, of subheadings emphasising the important factors of that period. Chapter Three is set out in a similar fashion and incorporates the important events of the course of the Civil War including foreign intervention, the military and economic resources of each side, Republican and Nationalist Spain, the Communists and the Republic, forging the Francoist state and the Republic’s defeat. The added advantage of this pamphlet to the student is the last section that contains the most recent research highlighting the interpretations, debates and conclusions on the most important issues of the Spanish Civil War – why democracy failed; why Franco won the Civil War; and Franco and Fascism. This is overall a very worthwhile pamphlet for both student and teacher.
Bookchin, Murray, To Remember Spain – The Anarchist and Syndicalist Revolution 1936, Edinburgh: AK Press, 1994
Bookchin has been a lifetime supporter of libertarians and presents in these essays, written over a period of time, a description, analysis and evaluation of the last of the great proletarian style revolutions. It is useful for both teacher and student in pursuit of the study of the Anarchist movement, especially for dissertation purposes. It is however marred somewhat by the author’s partisan style which must be taken into account throughout the research. Nevertheless, the essays are valuable if the dissertation covers the Spanish Revolution and its place in history, covering as it does the accomplishments, insights and failings of the anarcho-syndicalist movement. The essays are still in print but can also be obtained from libraries. Useful for the examination of various historical interpretations of that period.
Brenan, Gerald, The Spanish Labyrinth, Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1943 (Canto Edition 1998)
A must for the departmental library, however some students may find this particularly useful as a Category A book. An excellent book for both teacher and student, this has become the classic account of the background to the Spanish Civil War. First published in 1943, it was written during and immediately after the war. It has now become essential reading for an understanding of the nineteenth-century roots of the social and political upheavals of twentieth-century Spain. It is particularly good for all aspects of the agrarian problem as well as a good analysis of the division of the left and of regional nationalism. Brenan has been able to combine shrewd analysis with the immediacy of an eyewitness account. He first settled in Spain in the 1920s and remained there throughout the years of the Civil War, which crystallised his thoughts into this book. Despite the immediacy of the book to the Civil War, it is a remarkable achievement that it should stand the test of time so well. Brenan’s support for the Republican cause
was unflinching throughout, but his account stands out as surprisingly impartial. An excellent book for research purposes for both student and teacher, and useful for note-taking and dissertation purposes.
Browne, Harry, Spain’s Civil War – Seminar Studies in History Series, Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd, 2nd edn. 1996
This title would serve as a study guide for students and a possible alternative to Knight’s The Spanish Civil War. Browne splits the book into three parts. Part 1 covers the Second Republic and the causes of the Civil War. Part 2 deals with the course of the war – the nature and extent of foreign involvement and the reasons why Franco won and the Republican government was defeated. Part 3 is an overall assessment of the legacy of the Civil War and the Francoist state. It is supplemented with good source material. Browne’s book is more detailed than Knight’s but lacks the readability, issues and diagrams contained in Knight. Overall though a good study guide for the student.
Carr, Raymond, The Spanish Tragedy, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977 Currently OP
This book would have been Category A but its current status of being out of print makes this impossible. It stands out as one of the two best general texts on the Spanish Civil War. Raymond Carr and Paul Preston are recognised as the main authorities on Spain. It is undoubtedly one of the best interpretative summaries written so far. Carr’s work is perceptive and vibrant with insights at every turn. However it is currently only available from libraries until the publishers decide to reprint. Nevertheless no matter what dissertation topic is being attempted, an examination of Carr’s views would be vital. It is highly readable and therefore highly recommended to both students and teachers.
Carr, Raymond, Spain 1808–1975, Oxford University Press, 1982 (2nd edn.)
Useful for reference purposes for both teacher and student. It is written by one of the two most renowned authors on the Spanish Civil War. It obviously covers a much wider time-span than is necessary for the course but it is particularly useful in placing the war in context and on developments before and during the war. It is based on a life-time study and an expert knowledge of the history of Spain. The book is a beautifully written account of the failure of the Spanish middle class to modernise the country, a failure in which can be discerned the long-term origins of the Civil War. Both the period before the war and the war itself are more than adequately dealt with; they provide an important account because Carr’s The Spanish Tragedy is currently out of print. An excellent book for research, note-taking and of course for the dissertation.
Carr, Raymond, Modern Spain 1880–1980, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980
Useful for both teacher and student use. This could be a possible alternative to Carr’s much longer Spain 1808–1975. It covers the period stretching from the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1874 to the return of the monarchy in the person of Juan Carlos I just over 100 years later. It is perhaps more manageable for students as it incorporates the background, course and aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. It is perhaps the most illuminating short history of twentieth-century Spain. An excellent analytical breakdown of the events in Spanish history in the last 100 years which focus on the Civil War. Very useful to students doing research into the background of the Civil War. Students can make good use of this in their course work and dissertations.
Ellwood, Sheelagh, Franco [‘Profiles in Power’ series], Harlow: Longman, 1994
An excellent book on Franco and a possible alternative to Preston’s Franco. It is less daunting than Preston, only 236 pages long, and in this respect perhaps more accessible. It is described as concise and sensible and may prove to be a better book for the student. However it lacks the comprehensive status of Preston. Several questions are posed by Ellwood, which she addresses throughout the book: ‘How did such a man come to power?’, ‘What use did he make of it?’, ‘What were the formative influences on him?’, ‘Did he have a consistent vision of Spain?’, and ‘How did he realise his vision?’. Ellwood’s is the most recent book on Franco and offers a critical interpretation as well as a wealth of factual information. One drawback is that, despite being much shorter than Preston’s, it is more expensive.
Esenwein and Shubert, Spain at War: The Spanish Civil War in Context 1931–1939, Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd, 1995
This book is highly recommended to accompany Preston’s A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War (or other established texts). Written by two of the ablest younger historians of modern Spain, the book approaches the subject in a thematic way. In this respect it compliments Preston’s book which deals with the matter via a chronological approach, so the student is able to go into aspects in more detail, particularly Spain’s problem areas – church, land, army and regions. The book is divided into three parts with Part One exploring the Second Republic and the road to the Civil War. The authors show how the Second Republic became fatally weakened partly through the problems it had to deal with and partly by the polarisation of politics that resulted at that time. Esenwein and Shubert clearly show how the contradictory efforts by successive governments to deal with the key issues of the time alienated groups on both sides of the political spectrum and sowed the seeds of civil war. This section is written for the main part by Adrian Shubert.
George Esenwein is mainly responsible for Parts Two and Three dealing with the coup d’état and the Civil War itself, and with the aftermath. Esenwein explores the popularity of the revolution and how it impacted in particular on the lives of men and women in the republican zone. Chapter 7 is therefore particularly good. Chapter 8 is excellent for an examination of the divisions within the Republican zone that hampered its war effort. The international aspect of the war is also dealt with, analysing the role of foreign intervention in the defeat of the Republic. New areas such as the varieties of terrorism and the role of propaganda are included.
Overall the book combines a full-scale account of the politics of the Second Republic with an excellent survey of the Spanish Civil War. It is a recent and judicious account and takes on board all the latest research.
Fraser, Ronald, Blood of Spain – An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War, London: Pimlico, 1986
A must for any department that wants the full range of primary source material. This is a unique oral history based on interviews with eyewitnesses and participants on both sides in the war, which Fraser weaves together into something like a great novel. Its strength lies in the reader being able to discover what the Civil War, revolution and counter-revolution actually felt like from inside both camps. As a result it contains some fascinating material. However one minor flaw is the book’s format, which is slightly confusing as it places the section on the Republic 1931–36 at the end of the book. Nevertheless, it is easily laid out into main sub-headings on this period of Spanish history. Overall a very useful text to have in the departmental library for both student and teacher.
Suitable for dissertation purposes on any aspect of the Socialist movement up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Paul Heywood analyses the divergence between socialist (PSOE) ideology and practice. He presents the argument that the split within the movement was a primary catalyst for the Spanish Civil War. Although heavier going for Advanced Higher students (as it is more of a teachers’ text), used wisely it would be an excellent text for a dissertation on this aspect of Spain. It is an elegant account of internal conflicts within the Socialist movement. It is available only from bigger libraries.
Knight, Patricia, The Spanish Civil War: Access to History Series, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998
An excellent study guide for students of this course. The book summarises the causes, course and aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, using both text and source material. It provides a descriptive and analytical account of the war but more importantly reviews the historical debates surrounding its origins and outcomes. Patricia Knight focuses on most of the main issues – the failure of the Monarchy and Second Republic to survive, the reasons for the Nationalist success and the extent to which the Francoist state can be regarded as fascist. Another valuable aspect of the book is its use throughout of summary diagrams that will undoubtedly help students in their revision of the course. Overall the text provides stimulating source material within an accessible narrative and up-to-date historiography of the Spanish Civil War.
Lannon, Frances, Privilege, Persecution and Prophecy – the Catholic Church in Spain 1875–1975, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987 OP
Suitable only for dissertation purposes for students whose theme involves the Catholic Church in Spain and its contributory role in the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Lannon’s important monograph greatly assists the illumination of one of the long-term causes of the war. The book contains many sharp and pertinent insights into the reasons why the Catholic Church opposed the Second Republic and supported Franco. It analyses the social, political and economic role of the Catholic Church during the Second Republic and the Civil War. It is a finely balanced interpretation and represents the authoritative study on this aspect of Spain. This book would only be available from bigger libraries and should be used only in areas relevant to this field of study.
Malefakis, Edward, Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970 OP
This text is only really suitable for dissertation purposes covering the agrarian problem. Malefakis’ study is now accepted as providing a major contribution to the understanding of this social problem, which contributed more than anything to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. It remains the classic study of the agrarian question during the Second Republic. He explains the intensity of the social conflict generated by the agrarian problem and the failure of agrarian reform. It is however heavy for students at Advanced Higher level and would have to be used carefully and with the teacher’s direction. This book is only available from bigger libraries.
Payne, Stanley G, Spain’s First Democracy – The Second Republic 1931–36, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1993
A possible alternative to Preston’s The Coming of the Spanish Civil War, this book is useful for research activity for both teacher and student. Payne argues that the setting up of the Second Republic was one of the major attempts at political democratisation during the inter-war period – the most important effort to go against the wave of fascism that was sweeping Europe at that time. The author explores the sources and character of the political polarisation that developed as a result of the acts of the Left and Right during this period. He investigates the main political actors at this time and their role in the eventual collapse of the Second Republic. Payne presents a sober and judicious overview, a consistent and detailed interpretation of the Republic.
Preston, Paul, A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, London: Fontana Press, 1996
Highly recommended as the main student text for the course. This book is written by one of the two main authorities on Spain. Paul Preston is also the most prolific writer today on all aspects of the Spanish Civil War – causes, course and aftermath. This is a good interpretative account that deals with all three aspects, particularly the causes and the war itself. It is highly readable and ideal as an introduction to the subject. The book encapsulates a summarised analysis of the failure of the Second Republic, taking account of the author’s extensive research in that area for another of his books (The Coming of the Spanish Civil War). It recounts the struggles of the war, the betrayal of the Great Powers, and analyses the wider implications of the Revolution in the Republican zone and the emergence of the Francoist state. The book finishes with an explanation of why the Republic was eventually defeated and the implications for a future Spain. It is a good, balanced account, although Preston does not hide the fact that he has little sympathy with the Spanish Right, even if he shows an understanding of their problems. Although he believes the Second Republic made mistakes, he acknowledges that there was an attempt in the 1930s to provide a better way of life for the poorer sections of a repressive society. The book takes account of the latest research since the first version (The Spanish Civil War 1936–39) was published in 1986.
Preston, Paul, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War – Reform, Reaction and Revolution in the Second Republic, London: Routledge (2nd edn.), 1994
An essential account of the breakdown of the Second Republic. Paul Preston here provides a deeply disturbing explanation of this democratic collapse, coherently outlining the social and economic background. He analyses the ways in which the struggles between landless labourers and landowners, and between miners and mine-owners, were transmitted into national politics and fed into a battle for control of the state apparatus between the PSOE and the CEDA. This second edition, published in 1994, takes account of all the latest research and updates a book which was first published in 1978.
This is an essential part of any departmental library, useful both for the teacher and student in their study of the failure of the Second Republic by the most prolific writer on this topic today. It would be especially useful for dissertation purposes, a very balanced account of a very complex period.
Preston, Paul, Franco, London: Fontana Press, 1995
A very long and detailed book on Franco, around 1,000 pages, but one that stands out as the definitive biography. Its length is not off-putting as it is extremely readable in the usual Preston style of weaving together analysis and gripping narrative. This book contains sources and material not previously used for other biographies. The extensive use made by Preston of Franco’s speeches and other Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian sources makes material available to the reader previously not translated elsewhere. Chapter One is particularly interesting and valuable in its analysis of Franco. The book is also useful in providing a comprehensive examination of the politics of the Nationalist zone. In this respect, the text is useful for both teacher and student in research into Nationalist Spain for normal course work and dissertation purposes.
Preston, Paul, The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in 20th Century Spain, London: Routledge, 1995
Suitable for teachers and/or students who are covering aspects of the hardline Right for dissertation purposes. This book covers the relationship between fascism and the military in the fifty years from the birth of the Second Republic in 1931 to the despairing military coup of 1981. It examines the roles of fascism and the military as instruments of right-wing dominance in twentieth-century Spain. Perhaps particularly useful to students of this topic is the early part, which examines the nature of fascism in Spain, and, in Chapter 2, explores the ways in which the collective memory of the Spanish Civil War was manipulated by the dictatorship through the Falangist propaganda machine. Preston clearly argues that the Franco regime was indeed fascist. In this respect it is an indispensable text for any student researching this aspect of the course.
Preston, Paul, Comrades! Portraits from the Spanish Civil War, London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999
The latest book by the most prolific writer on the Spanish Civil War today. A highly readable text, but also of value for dissertation purposes if individual personalities are chosen for research. Preston carries out some brilliant psychological profiles of people like Azana, Prieto, La Pasionaria, Antonio Primo de Rivera, Salvador Madariaga as well as Franco himself. Excellent information and analysis, highly recommended if this kind of area is chosen for a dissertation.
Preston, Paul and MacKenzie, Ann L (eds.), The Republic Besieged – The Civil War in Spain 1936–39, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996
If possible, this book should be an essential part of any departmental library. Essential reading for both teacher and student, as the series of articles covers some of the latest research by the most renowned writers on the Spanish Civil War today. Contributions from authors such as Preston himself, Helen Graham, Denis Smyth, Herbert Southworth, Chris Ealham and, very importantly, Enrique Moradiellos. This book would be excellent for dissertation purposes. There are articles on the international aspects of the war as well as the internal aspects. Articles also include a very interesting one by Moradiellos on Britain’s reaction to General Franco during the Civil War. In recent years there has been a minor revolution in the historiography of Britain’s role during the Spanish Civil War. Moradiellos has been in the forefront of this and his article in this book makes his analysis available in English. Preston himself looks at Mussolini’s involvement. Other articles on the internal aspects include Helen Graham on the primacy of war and Chris Ealham on anarchist hostility to the government. Overall a very worthwhile text from the latest international scholarship on a variety of aspects of the war.
Romero Salvado, Francisco J, Twentieth Century Spain, London: Macmillan, 1999
A useful general text that covers the whole period of the Spanish Civil War – Collapse of the Monarchy, Failure of the Second Republic, The Civil War itself and the aftermath. It is by a new author who has managed to produce a valuable introductory text to a bewilderingly complex subject in such a concise volume. The book is based at undergraduate level and is very readable. Being a new text on the subject, it contains all the latest research on all the aspects of the Spanish Civil War. The first four
chapters examine the various causes of the war, with Chapter Five serving as an analysis of the Civil War itself both in the domestic and international dimensions. Chapter Six examines the victorious Franco regime and Chapter Seven the transition to modern-day Spain. A very useful text for both teacher and student.
Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, Harmondsworth: Penguin, reprinted in 1986
This is another excellent book for the reference or departmental library. It was the first comprehensive history of the Civil War in English and in this respect has led the way. Despite being first published in 1961, it is now in its third edition and reprinted last in 1986. It still constitutes an essential reference on the Spanish Civil War for both teacher and student. It is a very long work (1,115 pages), but it is highly readable. It is perhaps stronger on the narrative than the analysis but undoubtedly has a wealth of detail throughout. It remains the standard work and is especially good on the military and diplomatic aspects of the war. There is almost no aspect of the Spanish Civil War that escapes Thomas’ attention. A very useful text for note-taking and, of course, for dissertations.
Preston, Paul; Graham, Helen; Preston, Paul, Barricades against Fascism – The Popular Front in Europe; The Road to a Popular Front; Spain 1936 – From Coup D’Etat to Civil War, History Today Magazine, Volume 36, 1986
A must if possible for every department to have in their library. Issued in 1986 on the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, it contains a vital series of articles for the student along with the follow-up series issued three years later in 1989 on the fiftieth anniversary of the defeat of the Republic. Taken together, these articles provide an excellent coverage of the main issues. There is an excellent analytical account of the Popular Front by Helen Graham. Graham explains how it came about, the difficulties it faced, and why it eventually failed. ‘From Coup d’Etat to Civil War’ is a valuable article showing clearly why a failed coup resulted in such a bloody civil war. The series of articles is useful for both class work and dissertation purposes.
Alpert, Michael; Heywood, Paul; Preston, Paul, Uncivil War – The Military Struggle; Why the Republic Lost; Revenge and Reconciliation; History Today Magazine, Volume 39, 1989
This periodical contains a very lively selection of writings covering the military events, why the Republic lost and the aftermath of the war. As with the series of articles published in 1986, this is a must for every departmental library. It provides excellent coverage of the main issues. Perhaps the best is by Paul Heywood in his article ‘Why the Republic Lost’, where he argues that the Republic being divided, outmanned and lacking international support the wonder was not that it lost to Franco but that it successfully held out for so long against him. Michael Alpert’s article is excellent in its coverage of the military aspects of the Civil War and Paul Preston reviews the unforgiving nature of Franco’s victory and the legacies of the Civil War.
Beside Franco in Spain, BBC Timewatch Series, September 1991
A very useful video, if you can get a copy. It delivers a very competent analysis of Britain’s true stance in the Spanish Civil War, that of actively supporting the Nationalist side in various ways. Contrary to popular perception, Britain was anything but neutral or non-interventionist throughout the war. Using up-to-date historiography there are excellent contributions from Paul Preston and Enrique Moradiellos throughout the video.
Land and Freedom, Ken Loach, released in 1995
Captures successfully the revolutionary period of the Civil War and the disillusionment that set in after it was put down by the communists. Seen through the eyes of a British volunteer who ends up fighting, not with the International Brigades, but with the POUM militia, we see how his enthusiasm wanes because of his lack of understanding in the beginning of the true nature of the internal aspect of the Civil War and the intense rivalry that developed between the various political groups that fought on the Republican side. The film graphically portrays issues of revolution, collectivisation, and the disputes between the communists and their more left-wing rivals. A must for students studying this topic as it gives a real feel for the period and the events.
The Spanish Civil War, Channel 4 six-part series, 1983
An excellent series of programmes made by Channel 4. It has excellent commentary with good film footage of events throughout the war. Perhaps its greatest contribution to the Advanced Higher course is the interviews with participants and eyewitnesses such as Enrique Lister. Covers the lead-up to the war, the revolution and counter-revolution, foreign involvement, war and defeat.
There are various other video materials available from educational stockists but they are nearly all newsreel footage with no analysis, or American videos on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade [‘Between the Wars’ series, Volume 6].
Many films and novels are based on the period. They include Ernest Hemingway’s classic For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which tells the story of Robert Jordan, an idealistic American college professor who comes to Spain to fight with the Republican army.
The amount of information available via the Internet is vast but should be used selectively. Much of the material on the net consists of digital diarrhoea. Time should therefore be taken to go through what is there. This is especially true of a topic like the Spanish Civil War, where material can be heavily biased depending on the organisation that released the information. There are, for example, a number of pro-anarchist organisations and Marxist groups who have material available. But, in spite of its obvious bias, this could still provide a good research exercise for students. Perhaps the best method of ‘surfing’ is to use a search engine such as ‘Hotbot’ and then examine what students come up with on their menu. Alternatively call up the various university websites.
Useful websites 1. Yahoo = http://www.yahoo.com/
2. Hotbot = http://www.hotbot.lycos.com/
3. Clearinghouse = http://www.clearinghouse.net/
4. Alta Vista = http://www.altavista.com/
The above are all search engines that could be used to find relevant material on the Spanish Civil War. Simply insert ‘Spanish Civil War’ and click on ‘search’ and a menu will appear. It would then be necessary to spend some time going through the various websites for relevant material.
As far as possible university websites or work carried out by reputable authors should be sought. Unlike the majority of texts that students will use, there is always the problem of reliability of information at certain websites – there is no commercial pressure for it to be correct or accurate.
Another useful website is for the historical magazine History Today on http://www.historytoday.com/ Here there is a list of several useful articles and book reviews on the Spanish Civil War. If the articles are not available online, the website gives directions on how back copies of the magazine can be ordered.