Live Souls: Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain

Live Souls

Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain

By Serge Alternês & Alec Wainman


  • October 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-437-6
  • ebook ISBN: 978-1-55380-438-3
  • PDF ISBN: 978-1-55380-439-0
  • 7-3/4″ x 8-7/8″ Trade Paperback, 304 pages
  • 210 b&w photos
  • History, Photography


*For orders in Canada and the United States only. For international orders, please email us your order request and we will process the sale.

Live Souls presents 210 of the numerous photos that Alec Wainman took in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, and his personal story of his time as a volunteer member of the British Medical Unit. Until the present only a small number of his photos have appeared in a few historical books, where they have been valued for their insight into the troubled period. After much research by Serge Alternês, the entire corpus of the photos was discovered — in excellent condition. In Live Souls, Alternês has selected the best of these photos and imparted valuable detail with his introduction, captions to the photos, a timeline, as well as an overview of the international implications of Spain’s civil war from a contemporary perspective. Alec’s photographs and story bring revolutionary history to life, offering a complement to what George Orwell described in Homage to Catalonia and what the volunteer medical teams achieved with Drs. Norman Bethune and Reginald Saxton. Alec’s humanitarian ideal as an apolitical Quaker persuaded him to volunteer in August 1936 at the outbreak of the war to defend the ideals of liberty. His lens reflects his compassion for the citizens, volunteers and the civil war itself. The story and photographs keep the souls of the Spanish citizens and volunteers alive.

Click here to view a sample of Live Souls.

Awards & Reviews

  • 2016 IPPY Bronze Medal, Best Regional Non-fiction, Europe

“These images chart the tenacious persistence of memory, the resonance of surprisingly intimate encounters that radiates outward from then to now.”— The Tyee (link)

“Wainman’s behind-the-scenes photos of Republican soldiers and civilians poignantly capture the faces of idealism and the camaraderie of those who independently mobilized to defend democratic freedom.”— Alan Twigg, BC BookLook (link)

“This exquisite collection of 210 photographs brings to life the history of that concussive revolutionary time we’ve customarily known through the writings of Owell, Spender, Audain, [and] Hemingway.” — The Pacific Rim Review of Books

Live Souls is a reminder that the past is nearer than we think…These images chart the tenacious persistence of memory, the resonance of surprisingly intimate encounters that radiates outward from then to now.” — Jon Beasley-Murray, author of Posthegemony: Political Theory and Latin America (link)

“An exemplary force in the fight against fascism, and a wonderful photographer, this fascinating tribute to Alec Wainman is highly recommended.”International Brigade Memorial Trust

“Alec Wainman was indeed an extraordinary man, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, this book is an intimate and deeply personal reflection of the camaraderie, heroism and suffering that he witnessed during his time in Spain.” — Jeanne Griffiths, retired publisher and editor (link)

News stories & Interviews

Vancouver Sun “This Week in History” feature (link)

Georgia Straight interview with Serge Alternês (link)

Delta Optimist news article (link)

Serge Alternês’s video interview with Proyecto Grado Cero in Mexico during the Guadalajara International Book Fair (link)

More Praise for Live Souls

“Live Souls, live Memories. After almost eighty years since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the story of this human tragedy comes to life again in a gripping narrative and numerous photographs by Alec Wainman — a participant of this war with the British Medical Unit. This eminent humanitarian’s tale combined with his many pictures — each worth hundreds of words — is a timely reminder of war-time camaraderie, heroism and human suffering.” —Richard V. Mattessich, Professor emeritus, University of British Columbia

“A singular life and a singular gaze, Wainman’s rediscovered photographs help us understand anew, and with piercing clarity, the human cost of the war for the beleaguered Republic, but also the energy and resilience of those who supported it.” —Helen Graham, author of The Spanish Republic at War 1936–1939

“Alec Wainman’s memoir is a frank and revealing account of a remarkable man’s unique experiences in the Spanish Civil War. His photographs, many beautifully composed, offer an intimate and deeply personal reflection of what he saw and lived.” —Michael Petrou, author of Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War