Orwell went to Spain in late 1936, and enlisted to fight for the POUM, an anti-Stalinist communist party. While there, he was shot in the neck and forced to flee the country after the OUM were declared an illegal organisation. Orwell’s experiences in Spain turned him decisively against Soviet communism, and the book’s criticisms of the Communists proved controversial at home – his usual publisher, Gollancz, would not print the book, which appeared in 1938 from Secker & Warburg.
This war, in which I played so ineffectual a part, has left me with memories that are mostly evil, and yet I do not wish that I had missed it. When you have had a glimpse of a disaster such as this... the result is not necessarily disillusionment and cynicism. Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.