New Star Blogs

As the last Mac-Pap is laid to rest, comrade’s 50-year-old memoir released at last


9781554200719-macpap-3DAs the Ottawa Cit­i­zen reports the death last week of the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Macken­zie-Pap­ineau Bat­tal­ion, the mem­oir of anoth­er Mac-Pap, Ronald Liv­ersedge, is pub­lished by New Star Books. Liv­ersedge wrote Mac-Pap: Mem­oir of a Cana­di­an in The Span­ish Civ­il War in the 1960s, but his book remained unpub­lished at the time of his death in 1974. Avo­ca­tion­al labour his­to­ri­an David Yorke obtained a copy of Liversedge’s man­u­script, and saw it through to pub­li­ca­tion at last.

When the Franco’s fas­cist army attacked the infant Span­ish repub­lic in its cra­dle in 1937, Liv­ersedge was no longer a young man. A twice wound­ed World War I vet­er­an who had immi­grat­ed to Cana­da from his native Eng­land in 1927, Liv­ersedge iden­ti­fied with the Span­ish repub­li­cans, and was eager to enlist on their side. Despite his age, late 30s, his appli­ca­tion to join the Inter­na­tion­al Brigades was accept­ed, and in May 1937 Liv­ersedge was on his way to Spain.

Mac-Pap is the sto­ry of his har­row­ing jour­ney into Spain and the field of con­flict, and of his expe­ri­ences in the bat­tles around Huesca, Fuentes de Ebro, Teru­el, and the long retreat through Valen­cia. Liversedge’s age kept him out of the hottest front­line action, but his sto­ries of behind-the-lines life in the Mac-Pap Bat­tal­ion are every bit as reveal­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing.

David Yorke, who obtained a copy of the man­u­script from Liv­ersedge, nego­ti­at­ed the obsta­cles that had kept it from pub­li­ca­tion when it was writ­ten, and has added an intro­duc­tion, a selec­tion of pho­tographs, and fifty pages of notes illu­mi­nat­ing the many ref­er­ences to per­sons and place names that would be mys­te­ri­ous to today’s read­er.

Mac-Pap is avail­able from Audrey’s Books, Anoth­er Sto­ry, Black Bond Books, The Book­mark (Char­lot­te­town & Hal­i­fax), Books on Beech­wood, Bryan Prince Book­sellers, Librairie Clio, Laugh­ing Oys­ter Book­shop, McNal­ly Robin­son, A Nov­el Idea, Octo­pus Books, People’s Co-op Book­store, Spar­ta­cus Books, Turn­ing the Tide, Chap­ters, Indi­go,,, and our very own web­site.