"Or I'll Dress You in Mourning" by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre
Published by Simon and Schuster, 1968
(I learned of this book in the oddest way. I was listening to some music by John Barrowman and a lovely song from the musical "Matador" caught my attention. It was called (surprise): "I'll Dress You in Mourning". I immediately fell in love with it and looking on the Internet, I found that the musical was based on this book.)
The partial biography of Manuel Benitez "El Cordobes" , it's quite well-written and focuses on his famous fight in Madrid in 1964. As it describes the excitement leading up to this televised fight, and each step of the fight itself, it flashes back to his birth just before the start of the Spanish Civil War, the struggles of his family and the general state of Spain (and Andalusia in particular). It describes his formative years and influences, both personal and those shaping the nation, that set him on his path to the bullring. It was nicely paced and kept my attention...I also learned a lot about bullfighting, which was fascinating, even though I don't like bloodsports.
I found it very fascinating to learn more about the Spanish Civil War and it's aftermath, and the terrible social conditions that existed prior to the 1960s. It's also the story of a brave, uneducated man who wanted to be someone and his difficult journey to achieve his dream.
I'd recommend this to anyone with a love of history, and those who are interested in knowing about what drives people to take terrible risks.
If you can find a copy, it's worth the read:)