Book in the news… the inside story of Spain’s tumultuous crisis

After the Fall Crisis, Recovery and the Making of a New SpainA book that goes beyond politics to offer a deeply sympathetic portrayal of a country.

960-After-the-Fall-100

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".

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".

Recommended

Disasters, bunkers and financial collapse: a little not-so-light holiday reading
Books

Disasters, bunkers and financial collapse: a little not-so-light holiday reading

Merryn Somerset Webb picks a selection of books for you to dive into wherever you are holidaying this summer.
3 Aug 2021
My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes
Investment strategy

My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes

John Stepek recommends some of his favourite financial books for you to read as lockdowns continue, including a surprisingly gripping biography of the…
31 Dec 2020
Five books to put on your Christmas list
Investment strategy

Five books to put on your Christmas list

Even if they’ve done nothing else, lockdowns – in whatever guise – have given us plenty of time to read. Merryn Somerset Webb picks five books to enjo…
7 Dec 2020

Most Popular

Don’t worry about the global population explosion – it’s unlikely to happen
Investment strategy

Don’t worry about the global population explosion – it’s unlikely to happen

One of the many things we are taught to worry about is the fast-rising global population. But in fact, says Merryn Somerset Webb, the opposite is tru…
15 Nov 2021
Inflation forecasts mean interest rates should be on the rise – so why aren’t they?
Investment strategy

Inflation forecasts mean interest rates should be on the rise – so why aren’t they?

With inflation forecast to hit 5% next year, we might expect interest rates to be rising, says Merryn Somerset Webb. But central banks are holding off…
8 Nov 2021
Four of the best new investment trust listings
Investment trusts

Four of the best new investment trust listings

Diversify your portfolio and benefit from rising dividends with these four new investment trusts coming to the market soon.
15 Nov 2021