Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Italians and the New Spaniards

I raved about The New Spaniards, by John Hooper on Chowhound's suggested reading page:
After having visited the land of paella 19 times, I find that Hooper is dead-on perfect in all his observations and assessments of post-Franco Spain. He masterfully explains how the country reached its present point, fitting a surprising amount of historic/cultural background into 470 pages. Hooper offers methodical analysis of every imaginable mileau (art, education, politics, crime, sex, religion, the press,etc etc), plus evocative (and unerring) portraits of each of Spain's strikingly different states. Indispensible for those traveling there, and a fascinating read for anyone even mildly interested in the region.
It's such a great read, with no padding or flabby indulgence. Hooper was the Spain correspondent for The Economist, so he knows how to write with elegance and concision. And I just discovered Hooper was reassigned to Italy a few years ago, and has given them that country treatment, with "The Italians". If you have any curiosity, and want quick sketches of the regions and level-headed recent history, check it out. If you ever travel there, it's surely indispensable.

NY Times review of "The Italians"
Guardian review of "The Italians"

Another cool-sounding book on Italy recommended in the Guardian review (above): Tobias Jones' "The Dark Heart of Italy"

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