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The Sands of Time

Sidney Sheldon

Authors Note


  This is a work of fiction. And yet .

  The romantic land of flamenco and Don Quixote and exotic-looking senoritas with tortoiseshell combs in their hair is also the land of Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisition, and one of the bloodiest civil wars in history. More than half a million people lost their lives in the battles for power between the Republicans and the rebel Nationalists in Spain. In 1936, between February and June, 269 political murders were committed, and the Nationalists executed Republicans at the rate of a thousand a month, with no mourning permitted. One hundred sixty churches were burned to the ground, and nuns were removed forcibly from convents, "as though," wrote Duc de Saint-Simon of an earlier conflict between the Spanish government and the Church, "they were whores in a bawdy house. " Newspaper offices were sacked and strikes and riots were endemic throughout the land. The Civil War ended in a victory for the Nationalists under Franco, and following his death, Spain became a monarchy.

  The Civil War, which lasted from 1936 to 1939, may be officially over, but the two Spains that fought it have never been reconciled. Today another war continues to rage in Spain, the guerrilla war fought by the Basques to regain the autonomy they had won under the Republic and lost under the Franco regime. The war is being fought with bombs, bank robberies to finance the bombs, assassinations, and riots.

  When a member of ETA, a Basque guerrilla underground group, died in a Madrid hospital after being tortured by the police, the nationwide riots that followed led to the resignation of the director general of Spain's police force, five security chiefs, and two hundred senior police officers.

  In 1986, in Barcelona, the Basques publicly burned the Spanish flag, and in Pamplona thousands fled in fear, when Basque Nationalists clashed with police in a series of mutinies that eventually spread across Spain and threatened the stability of the government. The paramilitary police retaliated by going on a rampage, firing at random at homes and shops of the Basques. The terrorism that goes on is more violent than ever.

  This is a work of fiction. And yet. . .

  "The dead do not need to rise.

  "They are a part of the earth now and the earth can never be conquered for the earth endures forever, it will outlive all systems of tyranny. Those who have entered it honorably, and no men entered earth more honorably than those who died in Spain, have already achieved immortality. "