The New Spaniards: Second Edition (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/12/8
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A fully revised, expanded and updated edition of this masterly portrayal of contemporary Spain. The restoration of democracy in 1977 heralded a period of intense change that continues today. Spain has become a land of extraordinary paradoxes in which traditional attitudes and contemporary preoccupations exist side by side. Focussing on issues which affect ordinary Spaniards, from housing to gambling, from changing sexual mores to rising crime rates. John Hooper's fascinating study brings to life the new Spain of the twenty-first century.
Unputdownable . . . A must for anyone . . . who wants to know what Spain is really like. (New Statesman, London)
Hooper . . . not only knows where Spain has been in recent decades and centuries, but he also has an impressively authoritative view of where exactly it is today and where it is headed. (The Washington Post)
Hooper, a veteran journalist who lived and worked in Spain for almost a decade, originally published his ideas regarding Spain as a book titled "The Spaniards" in 1986; this revised and expanded version incorporates events as recent as the terrorist attacks of March 2004. In a very thorough manner, Hooper chronicles the political change from dictatorship to democracy and its aftermath, focusing on the importance of King Juan Carlos I's support for democracy and on the development of a multi-party system. He also explores changing social values in areas like religion, gender, the media, the legal system, and the arts.
Particularly intriguing are those parts of the book where Hooper discusses the tension between centralists in Madrid and cultural nationalists in areas like Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque region. Other highlights include a chapter that focuses upon bullfighting and flamenco as honored and long-standing cultural traditions that nonetheless are undergoing changes that reflect the larger cultural shifts affecting Spain generally. A thought-provoking final chapter speculates on the future directions that Spanish society might take.
The book worked well as a reading choice for a trip to Spain; I found Hooper's insights helpful as my wife and I traveled in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Segovia, and Toledo. Indeed, I wish I had had "The New Spaniards" with me on our first trip to Spain, when we spent time in Cáceres, Salamanca, Leon, and Santiago de Compostela. Hooper's ideas always gave me new ways of looking at the Spanish people and the landscape they call home.
I found myself returning to this book at a time when Spain was very much in world news; amid an atmosphere of Europe-wide financial anxiety, one of the country's largest banks reported losses of 4.3 billion euros and sought a 19-billion-euro bailout. I can only hope that Spain will soon emerge from the economic difficulties it has recently been facing. But the degree of worldwide attention dedicated to the story provides a reminder that Spain, a beautiful and culturally rich nation of 46 million people, has emerged from the long and dreary isolation of the Franco dictatorship, and that its destiny is now linked with that of Europe generally. Any reader who is interested in Spain, its recent history, and its future would do well to read John Hooper's "The New Spaniards."
British journalist John Hooper is intimately familiar with Spain. The well-researched, well-written book is as fine a survey of Spanish history, life, culture and attitudes as you are likely to find. His treatment is impartial and fair, though his love and respect for Spain cannot be obscured. It is everything you wanted to know and probably much you did not want to know. By that I mean that the strength of the book is also its weakness for some people. Though I am somewhat familiar with Spain, I learned a great deal and was fascinated with the breath, depth and accuracy of information Hooper provides. I also found myself slugging it out though seemingly endless statistics, economic studies and obscure names acronyms and personalities. Despite that, Hooper strikes a fine balance between academic excellence and readability. Even though you may be overwhelmed by more information than you can absorb, Hooper usually keeps your interest and gets the main point across.
If you are planning a vacation in Spain "The New Spaniards" may be more information than you care to know. Even a causal tourist, though, can benefit greatly from this book by intentionally focusing on what is interesting and relevant and not carrying the self-imposed burden of trying to remember or understand every detail. Of particular value is Hooper's firm grasp of the different peoples, languages and regions of Spain. If you are going to Spain as an exchange student or otherwise planning to spend an extended period of time in Spain, this is the place to begin your education.
Hooper does a masterful job of interweaving fact, figure and anecdote in The New Spaniards. The work is well researched, with copious footnotes, but more importantly, it doesn't read like a textbook. Instead, it has a distinct, literary quality to the prose that won't make your eyes roll back in your head when you're reading about a law that was passed in the 1980s, or how the country's economy compares to others of the European Union.
At the same time, Hooper plays with a fair, objective hand, pointing out the plusses and minuses of Spanish society, culture and politics. I studied Spanish literature and culture as an undergrad, but not until I read this book did I comprehend what makes Catalonia different, or how the tension between nationalism and centrism can exist in a country rife with disparities.
Really, the thing I'd recommend highest of all is the simple readability. I read almost the entire book on my morning train commute to work. The chapter divisions are smart, the flow between subjects goes off without a hitch and the general insight, even for someone with a good knowledge of Spain, can't be beat.
Plus, Hooper even answered an email I sent soon thereafter. All in all, a terrific read.