Spain is different' was for a long time the explanation proffered by historians when they sought to explain the course of the nation's exceptionally rich and varied history. Spain was the only region in the medieval West (along with Sicily) to experience Islamic conquest; the first nation to lay claim to a global empire and the first to lose it; and the country in which the extreme forces of the Left and the Right were to act out one of the bloodiest confrontations Europe has known. Today, however, as Spain has become firmly integrated into the political and economic structures of the European Union, the long-held notion that the country is a nation apart no longer seems valid. Simon Barton probes the extent to which Spain should be regarded as an exceptional case and provides a highly-readable, lucid and balanced account of its vibrant and colourful history, from its origins to the present day. This second edition of a highly successful text has been revised and expanded in the light of new scholarship, and now features additional maps and figures. Barton brings the story right up to date with coverage of recent events, such as the 2004 Madrid bombings and the general election of 2008.