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An Anarchist’s Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald [MOVIE]

In 1936, with civil war sweeping through Spain, Ethel Macdonald – a working-class girl from Motherwell – was to become, for a year, one of the world’s most famous voices. She was perhaps the first example of an ’embedded reporter’, sending dispatches and broadcasts back from the Spanish Anarchist camp in Barcelona to the UK. But she made no pretence of ‘impartiality’ or balance of opinion; she was a lifelong anarchist, utterly committed to her cause. Mystery surrounds Ethel Macdonald, from her birth certificate to the last days of her life. When Ethel suddenly fell silent in Barcelona she became the focus of an international search and intergovernmental negotiations. In 1937 the optimism of the previous year had gone. Ethel had been imprisoned, escaped, and was in hiding in a foreign country in the grip of war. Dubbed on newspaper headlines ‘The Scots Scarlet Pimpernel’, she was imprisoned by her erstwhile comrades, the very people she had been fighting alongside; and now that she was silenced and in danger, she became even more of an enigma. This book, exactly a century after her birth, uses contemporary accounts, her own words and those of her close associates to unravel the extraordinary mystery of Ethel Macdonald and examines the unique impact that she had during this fascinating period of European history.

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