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Europe's economic crisis has sounded the death knell for many political leaders. Even Nicholas Sarkozy and Silvio Belusconi proved not to be immune. Governments have been swept into power on a wave of anti-incumbent outrage, only to become reviled themselves.
The fact that Angela Merkel increased her share of the vote in the recent German elections is extraordinary. However, while revered at home, she's unpopular in countries that have had to adopt austerity programmes. Angela Merkel: A Chancellorship Forged in Crisis by Alan Crawford and Tony Czuczka looks at this controversial politician.
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The book's strange structure switches between an account of the eurozone crisis and a look at issues, such as the German economic model. The authors astutely observe that the problems really began when it became clear that German banks and insurance firms were sitting on huge losses from US subprime debt and eurozone bonds.
The implication is that Merkel's dedication to keeping the eurozone together, despite the huge costs to the wider continent, was driven partly by a desire to protect her banks from the consequences of their actions.
Examining the role the German banking system played in her response might have made an interesting contribution to the debate. Sadly, this isn't developed. Instead, the book falls back on a superficial account of the various summits and agreements over the past five years. Although well written, there are few revelations.
Similarly, we learn little about Merkel's early life, other than that she was a diligent student who managed to rise through East Germany's scientific establishment without collaborating with the Communist regime.
Although a useful introduction to Merkel and the crisis for those who haven't paid much attention to eurozone events, it feels like a first draft and leaves many questions unanswered.
Of course, the economic problems are continuing, which complicates matters. Given Merkel hinted she will stand down before her new term finishes, the authors could release an updated edition and change the structure.
The book received mixed reviews. Derek Scally in The Irish Times calls it "an accessible and readable volume", although he admits it is "more a collection of related essays than a classic biography".
Praising Crawford and Czuczka's "crisp" writing, the FT's Quentin Peel thinks they "struggle to find out what really makes this woman tick", so that "the most powerful woman in the world is in many ways still an enigma".
Angel Merkel: A Chancellorship Forged in Crisis by Alan Crawford and Tony Czuczka is published by Wiley (£19.99).
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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