The Struggle for Catalonia

Rebel Politics in Spain

September 2017 9781849048033 256pp
EU Customers


In 2012 on Catalonia’s National Day, the Diada, an enormous crowd calling for Catalan independence took over the heart of Barcelona. On the back of this show of force, Catalonia’s governing politicians turned secessionist claims into a new headache for a Madrid government only just recovering from the near-meltdown of Spain’s financial system. Five years on, the separatist challenge has neither come to fruition, nor faded away.

The Struggle for Catalonia looks at how and why Catalan separatism reached the top of Spain’s political agenda, as well as its connection to the broader European malaise generated by flawed political responses to financial and other crises.

Through extensive travel and reporting, as well as dozens of interviews with leading Catalan personalities, Raphael Minder gives a cultural history of the region, showing how the reshaping of Catalan identity is being played out everywhere, from football clubs to the world of haute cuisine.



‘Extraordinarily timely. Deeply researched and based on hundreds of interviews, fair-minded and empathetic, [Minder’s] account of the Catalan rebellion invites the reader into a multi-voiced conversation, with a genial author there to prompt when one loses track.’ — Financial Times

‘The offer of independence, as Raphael Minder says in his invaluable new work, The Struggle for Catalonia, “promised change and prosperity in a new Catalan state, instead of stagnation in a rotten Spain”.’ — Owen Jones, The Guardian

‘What the reader really values is the depth and breadth of this book . .  an excellent analysis of Catalonia, from its cuisine to its language to its tempestuous politics.’ — The Independent, Best Books on European Politics

‘[A] balanced and sympathetic account’ — The Nation

‘Timely and useful’ — The Irish Times

‘One of the virtues of Minder’s elegantly written book is that his roughly two hundred interviews with politicians, journalists, and scholars give it an evenhanded approach to the situation in Catalonia … Minder’s book is valuable not only for what it explains but for what it describes … the book is an ode to Barcelona, Catalonia’s glittering capital and one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities.’ — The New York Review of Books

‘His recently-published book is a comprehensive, highly readable survey of what it is troubling Catalonia at present … There are undoubtedly many readers in the Anglophone world who wish to read beyond the daily news reports concerning Catalonia, and this book, written from a neutral, indeed tactful point of enquiry, answers all the questions.’ — RTÉ

‘Refreshingly even-handed in the midst of all the fire and fury in the Spanish media, Minder’s book, based on thorough historical research, points to an unavoidable train crash between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. The book’s conclusion is hard to refute.’ — Literary Review

‘Employing his talents as a journalist who has covered Spain for the New York Times since 2010, Minder bases his highly readable exploration of Catalonia on countless interviews with political, social, and business leaders as well as scholars, activists, and everyday people . . . he insightfully describes how secessionist sentiment and related tensions are interwoven with an array of topics in Catalan life. . . Minder’s insights about this region will intrigue.’ —  Choice

‘Raphael Minder’s timely book . . . has provoked significant interest throughout the English speaking world. As New York Times correspondent in Spain and Portugal, Minder draws on interviews with a very impressive list of protagonists . . . for this reason alone, as well as for its comprehensiveness, Minder’s book is worthy of reading for those looking to develop an understanding of the complex Catalan, and overall Spanish, question.’ — Socialism Today

The current independence movement in Catalonia has wide implications not only for Spain but for Europe. In this timely and well-informed book the New York Times correspondent in Spain uses his numerous interviews with partisans and opponents of secession to give readers a balanced account of the issues at stake.’ — John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford

‘A brilliant study of Spain’s “Catalan problem” by a careful and conscientious journalist who has spoken to all the key players and missed absolutely nothing. Minder is an engaging writer, who combines sharp firsthand reporting with analysis that manages to be sceptical, thoughtful, insightful and non-partisan in equal measure. The result is an indispensable English-language guide to the political complexities of Catalonia’s struggle for independence, which also takes readers deep into Catalan history and culture. A terrific achievement.’ — Matthew Carr, author of Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, 1492-1614 and The Devils of Cardona

‘Few people in the Anglo-Saxon world understand why relations between Catalonia and the Spanish capital are so tense. On the basis of 200 interviews with politicians, journalists, historians and restaurateurs, Raphael Minder’s even-handed and compellingly readable work explains the past and the possible future of a dangerous situation.’ — Paul Preston, Professor of Contemporary Spanish History, London School of Economics and Political Science, and author of The Last Days of the Spanish Republic

‘A very serious and well-documented book that helps shed light on as complicated a topic as the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. An outsider’s analysis, lucid and objective, that also displays a clear desire to promote fraternity.’ — Josep Piqué, former Spanish Foreign Minister

‘Raphael Minder’s scrupulously impartial, lucid and fluent book is based on wide-ranging interviews and historical study. He navigates the complexities of this thorny issue very successfully.’ — José Álvarez Junco, Professor of History, Universidad Complutense de Madrid; author of Spanish Identity in the Age of Nations


Raphael Minder is a Swiss journalist who spent ten years as a staff correspondent for the Financial Times in Paris, Brussels, Sydney and finally Hong Kong, as regional correspondent for Asia. Since 2010, he has been New York Times correspondent for Spain and Portugal, covering a financial crisis that has turned political, including the territorial conflict over Catalonia.

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