Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20
When Spain joined the European single-currency zone in 1999, the country's property market went "gaga", says Gerard DeGroot in The Times. Mortgages were "handed out like sweeties",nearly six million properties were built over the next decade, and a quarter of Spain's male workforce ended up employed in the construction industry.
So when the property bubble burst, "the shockwaves of economic collapse were felt in every corner of society". After the Fall by Tobias Buck, a journalist with the Financial Times, examines both the "fat-cat bankers who led their country astray" and the "ordinary people who paid dearly for inane economic management".
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The book "captures the chaos of Spain's turbulent recent history with aplomb", says Oliver Balch in the Financial Times. An Anglo-German with a Spanish partner, Buck "is enough of an outsider to stand on the sidelines and look in, yet close enough to gain an inside track".
He is also willing to dig deep into the story, journeying into Catalonia's rural villages "to unpick the causes of secessionist sentiment", for example. The book's real strength, however, is its "charting of the political ramifications of Spain's crisis", which have "been as tumultuous as the economy has been flat".The central villain in this "elegant and insightful" book is Mariano Rajoy, Spain's prime minister between 2011 and 2018, says Matthew Campbell in The Sunday Times.
In Buck's view, the "uncompromising, uncharismatic ex-property notary from Galicia" may have succeeded in taming the economic fallout from the crisis, but he failed to inspire the Spanish people, and unintentionally fanned "separatist flames" in Catalonia. Buck sees the present ongoing crisis as part of a "continuing struggle in the story of modern Spain between the old and new, right and left, reaction and reform, the religious and secular, tradition and modernity".
But his book goes beyond politics to offer a "deeply sympathetic portrayal" of a country "whose people love nothing more than to gather at dusk for a chat in the plaza". For all the turmoil, "Spain is a country that gets under your skin".
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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