A superb analysis of Spain's successful transition from Francoism to democracy and a modern society. The author, a Spanish sociologist, emphasizes the gradual emergence of a civil society in Spain even before Franco's death and at a time when the authority and self-confidence of the Francoist state were declining. He discusses the desire of Spaniards to belong to Europe, how Spain dealt with the legacies of the civil war and Franco's rule, and how the once dominant and authoritarian Roman Catholic Church and Spanish labor dealt with a divisive past so as to ease the path to the consolidation of democracy. A humane, subtle and splendidly informative study of recent Spanish history, with important observations about the critical role of civil society in the political triumphs and failures of other countries. A greatly rewarding and rare example of the complementarity of sociological and historical interpretations of political change.