The Forging of a Rebel is at once the autobiography of a man and the biography of a nation during the most crucial period of their lives. Three great books in one, it is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable achievements of modern Spanish literature. The first section, The Forge, deals with the childhood and youth of the author before the war in Spain - a Spain, shocked , confused and desperate. Arturo himself was the son of a widowed washerwoman and the adopted favourite of a well to do aunt. This gives him a unique insight into life at different social and economic levels. The second section of the book, The Track, carries Se or Barea into business, into marriage and into the sordid life of a Spanish conscript soldier (the so-called Riff War in North Africa) and then back into civilian life. It gives a vivid picture of Spanish Morocco in the years between the wars, of life in the outposts, with vermin, disease, flies and foul food; of the cafes, gambling dens and brothels of the towns. The Clash , the third section, covers the years 1935-1939 and deals primarily with the Civil War and Se or Barea's part in it.
Arturo Barea was for most of the Spanish Civil War head of the Foreign Press and Censorship Bureau of the Republican Government in Madrid and was also the radio broadcaster who became internationally famous as the 'Unknown Voice of Madrid'. Eventually forced out of Spain, he sought temporary asylum in France before crossing to England just before the outbreak of World War II.