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Blood and Sand"Blood and Sand"
by V. Blasco Ibanez
Dell Books, 1951
Originally published 1919
     The back cover reads: "A daring matador, a fearless bandit, and a beautiful but fickle lady...'Blood and Sand' is the classic novel of bullfighting in romantic Spain."
That really doesn't give you much to go on, so here's the text from inside the cover: "The roar of a wildly cheering audience as he enters the bull-ring, and the playing with death as he faces the charging, maddened bull are the moments for which a bullfighter lives. For a bullfighter lives differently from other men--he loves in his own tempo, and the women who love him know that he constantly plays with death. Here in this great novel of Spain are the thrills and terrors of the arena--the blood and the courage which make bullfighting popular."
     There are only a handful of genres that scream manliness. You have war stories, safari stories, Roman gladiator, and, of course, bullfighting stories. There is nothing like a man in a tight silk suit teasing a huge animal with horns. It's strange how a man whose tools of the trade are a funny hat and a red cape could be so macho. Bullfighting stories, with a nod to Hemingway, still have the power to capture the imagination of men around the world. Look at men's adventure magazines from the 1950's and 1960's and you will no doubt find any number of bullfighting tales. If you put a torero on the cover, the magazine sold. As great as bullfighting stories are, they do have one major flaw. No matter how godly the bullfighter is, he will always meet the business end of the bull's horns by the end of the book. Not to give away the plot, but in Blood and Sand the goring finale is telegraphed within the first five pages. The story has to end this way, just like all westerns end with a high noon shoot-out and all submarine stories end with a sunken sub. There are certain expectations that we, as manly readers, have come to expect. It's that element that is as unchanging as your lucky socks. It's the superglue that holds the manly world together. No matter how much the world changes, we can retreat into books like Blood and Sand and enjoy those myths that have made us the men we are.

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