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Modern-day Spain is a country changing at bewildering speed. In less than half a century, a predominantly rural society has been transformed into a mainly urban one. A dictatorship has become a democracy. This new, up-to-date edition is the essential guide to understanding twenty-first-century Spain: a land of paradox, progress, and social change. The New Spaniards is a book which has sat on my to-read shelf for far too long.
The second edition of this book got released in , so by the time I pulled it from my shelf, I wondered if its information would be little irrelevant, given the changes to Spain in the past eight years. I could not have been more wrong. So often mentioned in the same breath as Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett, the book which pulled me from my slumber about Spanish history, The New Spaniards is a must read.
The author brings together over pages, creating a solid, credible and easy to read review of Franco and modern life. One chapter in, what immediately becomes clear is the efficient and clean writing style Hopper has; while other books on the subject can feel academic and stiff, the prose is fresh and makes the reader comfortable among a detailed and insightful presentation.
The book starts with a section of the Franco reign, from the years of hunger, the economic boom, the mass migration of Spaniards both abroad and within their own nation, and effects of the reforms made during the dictatorship. It makes an enlightening read for those less acquainted with subjects such as prostitution, abortion, contraception and gay rights in Spain. Another absorbing chapter is the death of machismo in Spain as women gain rights after being so deeply and cruelly oppressed under Franco.
The fact Spanish women are still suffering sexism, like all nations, is also explained, with the all the relevant details to back up the claims. Part four sheds light on the autonomous regions of Spain, something not well understood by those not living in the country. The Basques, the Catalans and the Galicians are all opened up as Hooper shares their desire for self-governance, with all the information on the remarkably different laws and goals for their regions. I wanted to wave the flag for the region of Valencia at this point, which has been trapped under their corrupt PP mayor for over 20 years.
This book covers so many subjects that it can dizzying when looking back over all that is covered — from Spanish gypsies, to the welfare system, to the ups and down of the education system, housing and the booms and busts suffered, to the legal system, the media, the arts, but Hooper guides readers through every subject with a smooth yet meticulous manner, opening up each of these fundamental subjects.
For me, one of the final sections on changing traditions was especially fascinating. Bullfighting is covered in-depth with an unbiased yet accurate voice. I have read much about bullfighting, but it can be hard to find anything written that does not either lean heavily in favour or against the art form.
Regardless of your opinions on the subject, any reader can gain from the information shared by the author. While much as happened politically, socially and economically to Spain since this book was written, it still serves to provide a clean, realistic picture of Spain and why the nation sits in its current form. The book shows how the past has shaped the present, and can also show that what Spain is currently suffering is not unique.
Each generation of Spaniard has seen suffering, but also moments of hope in the time since Franco died. If anyone wanted to learn from the past mistakes, the tips to succeed could well lie in the words of John Hooper. It should be handed out to each person who arrives in Spain and plans to make a life there. Like Like. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Skip to content Modern-day Spain is a country changing at bewildering speed. My only gripe is that my paperback copy has a tiny font!
Going to a Kindle version and sizing up the text is needed for everyone with delicate eyes. Got a comment, question or suggestion? Let us know! Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public.
The New Spaniards
The restoration of democracy in 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. Hooper's "the New Spaniards" focuses on how Spanish society has evolved following the introduction of democrary in Spain in the late s.