Spanish Culture and Memory since 1936
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 352 pp.
In February 1971, President Richard Nixon dispatched General Vernon Walters to pose a delicate question to Francisco Franco, who had ruled Spain since 1939. Walters, a gifted linguist and experienced soldier-diplomat, had accompanied Nixon on his official visit to Madrid the year before. This time he was supposed to ask Franco, seventy-eight years old and rumored to be ailing, what was going to happen after his death. Franco guessed Walters’s purpose immediately and assured him that plans...
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