Professor Paul Preston

Professor Paul Preston

School Professor for the Department of International History

Department of International History

Room No
English, Spanish
Key Expertise
History of Spain

About me

Professor Paul Preston's main fields of interests are Anglo-Spanish relations; contemporary Spanish politics; defence policy; European fascism; European left; Gibraltar; Spain; Spanish army; Spanish history, the Spanish Civil War, the Franco Regime, the transition to democracy in Spain. At LSE, he teaches courses within these topics and can act as a second supervisor or examiner to students for their dissertations and theses at all levels, from undergraduate to PhD.

Paul Preston studied for his undergraduate degree at Oriel College, Oxford before moving to the University of Reading where he gained his MA in European Studies. He moved back to Oriel College to work on his PhD. He returned to Reading to take up a post of Lecturer before moving on to Queen Mary College, London. He joined the LSE as a Professor in International History in 1991.

He has delivered guest lectures in many Western European universities as well as in North America, including Harvard and NYU.

From 1994 to 2020, Professor Preston was the Director of the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, based at the London School of Economics.

LSE Research Impact: Seeking Justice for Forgotten Victims of the Spanish Civil War: Watch Professor Paul Preston talk about his lifelong research into the causes, course and legacy of the Spanish Civil War and how his research has exposed atrocities and helped commemorate and compensate victims.


Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, 18 January 2012


Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, 8 May 2018

Expertise Details

History of Spain


Professor Paul Preston is currently supervising the following research student:

 Research student  Provisional thesis title
 Sean Quinn Agrarian Collectivisation in Catalonia and the Question of Power in the Spanish Revolution (July 1936 - June1937)


Professor Preston has produced a large number of scholarly books and articles which include the ones below. Download a full list of all his book publications from 1976 to 2020.

Perfidious Albion – Britain and the Spanish Civil War 2024

Perfidious Albion – Britain and the Spanish Civil War (London: The Clapton Press, 2024)

Architects of Terror. Paranoia, Conspiracy and Anti-Semitism in Franco’s Spain 2023

Architects of Terror. Paranoia, Conspiracy and Anti-Semitism in Franco’s Spain (London: William Collins, 2023)

Arquitectos del terror. Franco y los artifices del odio 

Arquitectos del Terror: Franco y los artifices del odio (Barcelona: Debate, 2021)

Architects of Terror: Hatred, Paranoia and Anti-Seminitism in Franco's Spain (English edition, William Collins, 2022)


A People Betrayed: A History of Corruption, Political Incompetence and Social Division in Modern Spain, 1876-2016 (William Collins, 2020)


Un Pueblo Traicionado (Casa del Libro, 2019)

 PrestonLastDaysSpanishRepublic The Last Days of the Spanish Republic (HarperCollins, 2016)
 PrestonLastStalinist The Last Stalinist. The Life of Santiago Carrillo (HarperCollins, London, 2014)
 PrestonSpanishHolocaust The Spanish Holocaust. Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth Century Spain (HarperCollins, London; W.W. Norton, New York, 2012)
 PrestonSawSpainDie We Saw Spain Die. Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War (London: Constable, 2008)
 PrestonGranManipulador El gran manipulador.La mentira cotidiana de Franco (Barcelona: Ediciones B, 2008)
 PrestonSpanishCivilWar The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, Revolution, Revenge (London, HarperCollins, 2006)
 PrestonJuanCarlosBookCover Juan Carlos. A People's King (London, HarperCollins, 2004)
 PrestonDovesWar Doves of War. Four Women of Spain (London: HarperCollins, 2002);
 PrestonComrades Comrades! Portraits from the Spanish Civil War (London: HarperCollins, 1999)
 PrestonFranco Franco. A Biography (London, HarperCollins, 1993)
 PrestonPoliticsRevenge The Politics of Revenge: Fascism and the Military in 20th Century Spain (London, Unwin Hyman, 1990)
 PrestonSpanishCivilWarIllustrated The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New York, Grove Press, 1986)
 PrestonTriumphDemocracySpain The Triumph of Democracy in Spain (London and New York, Methuen, 1986)
 PrestonrRevolutionWarSpain Editor, Revolution and War in Spain 1931-1939 (London: Methuen, 1984)
 PrestonComingSpanishWar The Coming of the Spanish Civil War: Reform Reaction and Revolution in the Second Spanish Republic 1931-1936 (London: Macmillan, 1978) 2nd English edition revised and expanded (London, Routledge, 1994)
 PrestonSpainCrisis Editor, Spain in Crisis: Evolution and Decline of the Franco Regime (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1976).

Distinctions, Awards and Honorary Doctorates

Distinctions and awards

In May 1977, Professor Paul Preston was awarded the Medalla de Honor of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid for my work on contemporary Spanish history.

In 1982, he was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society.

In June 1986, he was awarded the Encomienda de la Orden de Mérito Civil by King Juan Carlos for services to Spain.

In May 1994, his book Franco: A Biography was named 1994 Yorkshire Post Book of the Year.

In July 1994, he was elected to a Fellowship of the British Academy.

In February 1998, his book Las tres Españas del 36 (Plaza y Janés, Barcelona, 1998) received the 1998 Así fue - la Historia rescatada prize. (This is the translation of his book Comrades)

On 3 July 2000, he was awarded the Distinción Honorífica Cañada Blanch by the Fundación Cañada Blanch, Valencia.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2000, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 2005, he was awarded Premi Internacional Ramon Llull, awarded jointly by the Institut de Estudis Catalans and the Institut Ramon Llull. The prize is the most prestigious international prize for academic achievement given in Catalonia. The citation reads 'Paul Preston has been awarded the XV Premi Internacional Ramon Llull, in recognition of a lifetime achievement of exceptionally valuable historical work centred on the study of the Second Republic, the Civil War, the Francoist Dictatorship and the transition to democracy in Spain.'  The jury went on to praise the work of the LSE's Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies and the many books published by the Centre in conjunction with Routledge and other publishers.

On 20 June 2006, at a ceremony presided over by the King of Spain, Professor Paul Preston was inaugurated into the of the Academia Europea de Yuste, where he was given the Marcel Proust Chair.  (The Academy has thirty members, including the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco, the Portuguese novelist José Saramago, the German Nobel prize-winning economist Reinhard Selten, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the French sociologist Alain Touraine and the English dramatist Peter Schaffer).

In 2007, the Catalan version of his book We Saw Spain Die received the prestigious Premi Trias Fargas in Barcelona.  In the same year, he was made Caballero Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica (Spain's highest civilian decoration) in recognition of his work on Spanish history.

In 2008, he was appointed a corresponding member of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (the Catalan Social Science and Humanities Academy).  He was also a member of the jury for the 2008 Charles V European Prize (awarded to Simone Weil). 

In 2011, he was awarded the Premi d’Història Santiago Sobrequès for his book L’holocaust espanyol.

In 2012, he was awarded the Premi Pompeu Fabra.

In 2013, he was awarded the Premi Lluís Carulla.

In 2015, he was awarded four Honorary Doctorates. One by the University of Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona on 15 May. Another by the University of Liverpool on 21. A third Honrary Doctorate by the University of Extremadura on 28 September and a fourth by the Universitat de Valencia on 26 October.

In 2018, he was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to UK-Spanish relations.


Honorary Doctorates

In 2015 and 2016, he received honorary doctorates from Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona (15 May 2015), Universidad de Extremadura, Cáceres (29 September 2015), University of Liverpool (21 July 2015), Universitat de València (26 October 2015) and Universitat de Barcelona (14 June 2016).

Read more about the honorary doctorates received by Professor Preston.

News & Media


New Piece in the LSE British Politics and Policy Blog

In the LSE British Politics and Policy Blog, Emeritus Professor Sir Paul Preston points to similarities between Putin’s war in Ukraine and the Spanish Civil War, including those concerning the involvement of international volunteers and Western non-intervention. He writes that direct comparisons are nevertheless complicated. Read the piece.


Instituo Cervantes – Luis García Montero

On 4 March 2020, Professor Preston announced that he will deposit in the Caja de las Letras of the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid, as a legacy, a copy of his first book, based on his thesis, The Destruction of Democracy in Spain (1978), noted by Sir Raymond Carr. Watch the event.


New book

Un Pueblo Traicionado was released in Spanish by Casa del Libro on 24 October. The book analyses the history of Spain from 1876 to present time, with the underlying theme of the mismatch between a population eager to progress and elites that do not cease to block their attempts. A People Betrayed provides a chronicle of the devastating disloyalty to the Spaniards by their political class, impassive of the country's social reality. Read more.


Historical advisor in French documentary

Professor Preston appeared extensively in a French documentary, called “Les Derniers Jours de Franco” [“The Last Days of Franco”], which aired on 21 October at 22:30 on France 5. The documentary tells the story of how Franco divided, and continues to divide, Spain well past his death on 20 November 1975, after over 40 years of dictatorship. The ghost of Franco continues to haunt Spain, with the recent Catalan crisis awakening old antagonisms, and Barcelona accusing Madrid of Francoist sympathies. Carles Puigdemont, former president of Catalonia (2016-17), provides a testimony in the film. The film also includes other testimonies of those who rubbed shoulders with the Caudillo and those who fought against him. Ultimately, this documentary attempts to break the Spanish divide over Franco.


Professor Paul Preston awarded knighthood in Queen's Birthday Honours

Professor Paul Preston was awarded a knighthood in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours Diplomatic Service and Overseas List in recognition of his work furthering UK-Spanish relations. The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.


Professor Paul Preston in the Spanish media on occasion of the Spanish Civil War Anniversary

To mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War on 18 July 1936, several Spanish newspapers referred to the published works of Professor Paul Preston, the leading authority on Franco and the Spanish Civil War, to shed light on the historical events and on the importance of not forgetting the war. Among other media outlets, Professor Preston  appeared in:

“España tiene un déficit educativo sobre la Guerra Civil”, Contexto Y Acción, Público (16/07/2016)
“Los interrogantes de la Guerra Civil”, La Vanguardia (17/07/2016).
"La guerra lejos de la trinchera”, El Periódico (17/07/2016)
"La tercera España de la guerra civil”, El Periódico (17/07/2016)
“Baja la fiebre editorial por la Guerra Civil”, La Rioja (17/07/2016)
“Cómo las herencias de la Guerra Civil y del franquismo marcan la España actual”, La Tercera (17/07/2016).
“Los mecenas que le pagaron el golpe y la guerra a Franco”, El Diario (17/07/2016)
“Objetivo: acabar con la anti-España”, Público (18/07/2016)
“¿Quiénes son y dónde están los franquistas de hoy en España?”, BBC Mundo (18/07/2016)


LSE Research Impact video

Professor Preston is internationally recognised as the leading authority on Franco and the Spanish Civil War. In an LSE Research Impact video, titled “Seeking Justice for Forgotten Victims of the Spanish Civil War”, Paul Preston talks about his lifelong research into the causes, course and legacy of the Spanish Civil War. He also talks about one of his many books, The Spanish Holocaust, which challenged the pacto de silencio by which the Spanish elite had avoided dealing with Franco's legacy. The book generated international attention as well as hundreds of articles and reviews. Professor Preston’s work broke lifelong taboos and El Pais stated that he had finally helped Spain to come to terms with the consequences of political brainwashing. The Spanish Holocaust united local historians who had been researching repression since the 1980s and helped them to contextualise violent episodes and reveal a previously hidden reality. Preston also collaborated with non-governmental organisations to seek compensation for the victims of Franco's repression. Watch Professor Paul Preston's LSE Research Impact video here.


On the outcome of the British EU referendum

Professor Paul Preston was asked by the Spanish media to comment on the "Leave" victory in the Brexit Referendum of 23 June. He shared his views with the Spanish newspapers El Pais (25 June) and Tiempo (1 July).


On Brexit and Spain's historical consistencies

Professor Paul Preston shared his thoughts on the EU Referendum with the Catalan TV Stations 8 TV (13 June) and Televisió 3 (13 June). He also gave an interview for the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia (18 June) on the same subject and on Spain's political and social historical shortcomings.



Fifth honorary doctorate by the University of Barcelona

On 14 June 2016, Professor Paul Preston, Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History Emeritus, was awarded his fifth honorary doctorate by the University of Barcelona. Professor Preston was recognised for his critical spirit and defence of freedom. Read more about the event from the University of Barcelona website (in Spanish). The event was fully covered by several Spanish national and regional newspapers, including, El Mundo, El Pais, El Nacional, ABC, La Vanguardia, Diario Vasco. In 2015, in recognition of his outstanding academic achievements, Professor Paul Preston received four Honorary Doctorates from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, 15 May 2015), the University of Liverpool (21 July 2015), the Universidad de Extremadura in Cáceres (28 September 2015) and from the Universitat de Valencia (26 October 2015).



The Spanish Civil War turned into comic book

Professor Paul Preston’s book, The Spanish Civil War, has been adapted as a graphic or comic version for teenagers by the Spanish artist, José Pablo García. The comic book, comprised of over 200 pages, took only six months to design. Read an article about the graphic designer here (in Spanish) and listen to Professor Preston talking about the book on Cadena Ser (27 June). Purchase Professor Preston's The Spanish Civil War on Amazon. The comic book was largely mentioned in the Spanish media, among others, in El Pais (14 June), El Periodico de Catalunya (14 June), La Vanguardia (14 June), Canarias 7 (15 June) and Málaga Hoy (24 June).



Professor Paul Preston acclaimed in new book by Professor Helen Graham

A forthcoming edited book by Helen Graham, Professor of European Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London, salutes Professor Paul Preston’s extensive work and expertise on contemporary Spanish history. Professor Graham’s book is called About Interrogating Francoism: History and Dictatorship in Twentieth-Century Spain, and it will be published in September 2016. The book brings together leading historians of international renown to examine 20th-century Spain in light of Franco's dictatorship and its legacy. “In part a tribute to Paul Preston, the foremost historian of contemporary Spain today, Interrogating Francoism includes an interview with Professor Preston and a comprehensive bibliography of his work, as well as extensive further readings in English. It is a crucial volume for all students of 20th-century Spain.” Pre-order the book here.


The Guardian

Professor Paul Preston wrote a riveting analysis of Hemingway’s 1937 play, “The Fifth Column”, for The Guardian on 18 March. Hemingway’s forgotten Spanish civil war play is to be produced for the second time ever from 24 March to 16 April, at the Southwark Playhouse, London. "The Fifth Column, now revived for the first time in 70 years, is fascinating for what it reveals about the author", claims Professor Preston. Read Professor Preston's full analysis.


New Book reviewed by The Herald Scotland, The Times and The Spectator

Professor Paul Preston's newest book came out in February 2016. Told for the first time in English, The Last Days of the Spanish Republic (Harper Collins, 2016), recounts the story of a preventable tragedy that cost many thousands of lives and ruined tens of thousands more at the end of the Spanish Civil War. This is the story of an avoidable humanitarian tragedy that cost many thousands of lives and ruined tens of thousands more. The book was reviewed by The Spectator (19 March), The Herald Scotland (6 March), by The Times  (5 March). Read more about The Last Days of the Spanish Republic in the publisher's website. Buy the book on Amazon.


Professor Paul Preston Awarded the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona 2015

Professor Paul Preston, Príncipe de Asturias Professor of Contemporary Spanish History Emeritus, was awarded the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona 2015 in the international impact category on 3 February 2016. The award was presented to Professor Preston on 15 February 2016 at the Barcelona City Council for "his important international profile as a historian of Spain, especially the Second Republic, the Civil War and its aftermath, and the Transition to democracy, periods of great significance for the city of Barcelona - and for the donation of his archive to the monastery of Poblet.” Read more about this prestigious award ceremony here (in Spanish). The award ceremony, as reported by the Spanish newspaper El Pais.


Four honorary doctorates

This year, Professor Paul Preston has received four honorary doctorates. One from the Spanish University of Rovira i Virgili on 15 May 2015.


Another from the University of Liverpool on 21 July 2015. Other doctorands honoured in the ceremony included the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of Ireland. Read the programme.


His third honorary doctorate was awarded by the University of Extremadura, Spain, on 28 September. Enrique Moradiellos, the doctor’s sponsor and a professor at the University of Extremadura, described Professor Preston as “the finest British Hispanist around today”. The ceremony was presided over by the Rector of the University of Extremadura, Segundo Píriz Durán, and by the President of the Government of Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara. Professor Paul Preston's third honorary doctorate was widely reported in the Spanish press, including in the Canal Extremadura TV (video), El, EFE , Europa Press, Pú, La República, La Vanguardia, W Radio.


On 26 October 2015, the Universitat de Valencia awarded Professor Paul Preston his fourth Honorary Doctorate. The honour was widely reported in the Spanish press, including in the newspapers, El Pais, El Mundo and Vanguardia. Professor Paul Preston is due to receive a fifth Honorary Doctorate in the coming months from the Universitat de Barcelona.


Grandes hispanistas

Professor Preston was interviewed by the Director of the Cervantes Institute in London, Julio Crespo MacLennan, on 5 May 2015. Watch the interview.


Video interview

Professor Paul Preston’s groundbreaking and high-profile work on Spain, the legacy of Francoism and the atrocities committed during the twentieth century was submitted as one of the department’s Impact Case Studies in the recent UK Research Excellence Framework process. A short film is available in which Professor Preston discusses his research and how it influenced the debate in contemporary Spain on these important issues.


The Last Stalinist reviewed by The Spectator and The Economist

The Spectator published a review of Professor Paul Preston's latest book, The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carrillo, on 23 August 2014. The book reviewer, JP O'Malley, concludes his essay by saying that "The Last Stalinist is yet another reminder that Paul Preston remains the most reliable historian in the English-speaking world for anyone wishing to understand the complicated power struggles between left and right in Spanish politics over the course of the 20th century." Read the full review by The Spectator. The Economist's review was published on 13 September 2014. Paul Preston's manuscript was deemed "both sobering and welcome". Read the full review by The Economist.


Paul Preston on Saber y Ganar

On 28 July 2014, Spain's most popular quiz show, 'Saber y ganar', featured Professor Paul Preston in one of their quizzes. The show has a section in which the contestants have to identify a famous person on the basis of a series of clues. As the contestants need more clues, the prize reduces in value. The winner twigged that it was Professor Paul Preston after four clues. Watch the show - Professor Paul Preston's quiz is at minute 34:00.


Featured in Indian publication

Professor Paul Preston was featured on the July edition of the Indian journal Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Diplomatist. On 'Four Decades of Triumph and Trial', he talks about "the rise of King Juan Carlos de Borbón as a national hero, and a popular legitimacy to which the new King can only aspire".


On King Juan Carlos's abdication

In the context of King Juan Carlos's abdication announcement in favour of his son Felipe, Professor Paul Preston appeared in several international media outlets such as the Portuguese, Diário de Noticias ("Um rei pode perder lugar por incompetência", 19 May 2014) and the Brazilian, O Globo ("'Legado de Juan Carlos I foi garantir a democracia', diz biógrafo", 8 June 2014).


Paul Preston on world media following the death of Adolfo Suarez

On occasion of Adolfo Suarez's death in March 2014, Professor Paul Preston talked about the life of the first elected prime minister after Franco to the British and international media. Here are some of his contributions:

Adolfo Suárez's Obituary by Paul Preston (The Guardian, 23 March 2014) 

La Noche de... Suárez with an interview with Paul Preston (RTVE, 23 March 2014)

Adolfo Suárez, The Man Who Came After Franco (The New Yorker, 26 March 2014) 

Last Word: Adolfo Suárez with Paul Preston and Dr Gregorio Alonso (BBC Radio 4, 30 March 2014)