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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2001
Hooper has managed to paint, inside five hundred colourless pages of text, a magnificent picture of Spain's vivacity, culture and history. As a student of Spanish, this is one of the best general accounts of Spain that I have read. Not only does it contain detailed information about every possible aspect of Spanish life, culture, history or geography, but Hooper manages to present the material in a logical and intriguing manner. Indeed, apart from being readable from cover to cover - although you may wish to set aside a few weeks for this task - the book can be consulted via an index as a type of "Encyclopedia of Spain." Useful explanatory footnotes are also provided throughout.
I would thoroughly recommend this as a general history of Spain, a general - but detailed - introduction to Spain and her ways, for a hispanophile, or anyone who wishes to discover "the real Spain" in the comfort of their own home.
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on 21 August 2000
I read this book before going for a year to Spain. I read it again when I returned and couldn't believe the accuracy of it. While Hooper offers critical analysis of the country, it is nevertheless obvious that this is a place he feels deep affection for. That is what makes it special.
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on 29 March 2006
Yes, definitely the one of the best books on Spain from the post-Franco era. But 11 years have now passed since it was published and Spain is a country which is hurtling forwards at breakneck speed. It has swung politically from left to right to left again leaving a whole "new" generation unaccounted for - the effects of mass immigration, 8 years of Aznar's centralist bullying, its involvement in the invasion of Iraq, the Madrid bombings, the Catalan statute.........It's time for an update.
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on 7 September 2002
Throw in a history book, a nice novel and an eye-witness travel guide and you get Hooper's "The New Spaniards". It is incredibly user-friendly in the sense that Hooper makes the book incredibly accessible. If you are the idle type of Spanish student, for instance, who finds reading for your course a drag, then this is the kind of book for you. By the end of the book you will have found yourself asking: "was I really studying or was that a nice cushy novel I was reading?". You will have soaked up a wealth of information without even noticing it!
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on 10 October 2002
Far away from the 'flamenco' culture, the Spanish Inquisition or the obscure years of Franco's era, John Cooper unveils unexpected and colorful aspects of the so-called New Spaniards.
Sociology, the Media or the still heated debate about the Catalans and the Basques are some of the discussion lines the readers can follow.
An attention-grasping, informative and enjoable book that any hispanist or Spain lover cannot miss.
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on 7 October 2004
Read 'The Spaniards' and loved it. Got 'The New Spaniards' when it came out and loved it too. A brilliantly readable insight into the modern history and culture of the most vibrant and exciting country in Europe. Cuts through all the stereotypes to provide an accurate portrait of the modern nation.
Time for the 'Even Newer Spaniards' Mr Hooper please.
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on 9 December 2010
Rarely does one find a non-fiction book that demands you read the next chapter but this is one.

I've been living in Spain for the last seven years struggling, in my senior years, to learn Spanish. The government finances an elementary programme of language and culture for foreigners. The language lessons progress at the speed of the least able student and the cultural element focuses on festivals.

What's missing from the government courses is all that this small volume contains; history, politics, sociology, scandals and sex.

Without adequate Spanish it's well nigh impossible to understand why Spain is unique and what does and does not motivate its people.

Read together with "Ghosts of Spain" by Giles Tremlett the reader will come to understand modern Spain as only an informed outsider could.

If you live in Spain or intend to, this is a MUST READ.
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on 3 October 2002
This book is a joy to read. A mass of perfectly chosen details - facts, anecdotes and observations - about Spain's recent history and how it has shaped the present. A mine of information and yet a light read.
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on 8 September 2010
There is a whole library of books that you should furnish yourself with if moving to, living in or interested in modern Spain, but this is the place to start. Accessible, knowledgeable, readable - it is the one book that I would recommend before any other.
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Each country is unique in its own way; to paraphrase Tolstoy a bit. Of the 200 plus countries in the United Nations, probably only 20 or so have had an identity, and a consequent "tumultuous" history that has spanned at least half a millennium. Spain is one in those score of countries. And hence the country can attract, and fascinate the outsider: all those historical forces, creating a culture today that still resists some of the homogenizing forces of "globalization." There are several excellent books on contemporary Spain, written by Englishmen, which would be most beneficial for an American to read who intends to visit the country, vicariously, or otherwise. In addition to this one, I'd also recommend Ted Walker's In Spain and Gerald Brenan's The Face of Spain (Travel Library).

John Hooper is a journalist, but a well-read one, and that is reflected in his work for "The Guardian," and "The Economist." My edition of his book dates from 1986, and is not currently available at Amazon, but I'm pleased to see that he continues to issue new editions, about every decade. I would imagine that they improve on his excellent 1986 version, which was written not that long after the demise of Franco, and just at the time that Britain and Spain worked out their differences over Gibraltar, so that the latter could join the European Common Market (which evolved into the EU).

Hooper's account is not one of a fellow traveler. Rather, it is an examination of the historical, political and social forces there were rooted in the Civil War. He then moves on through the era of Franco, who, in his own way, was the only victor of the "Axis Powers." Suddenly, the country is "liberated" upon his death. Subsequently, the Spaniards sought to play catch-up with the democratic countries of northern Europe. And what better way to propel that catch-up, than by inviting them to your country, for the sun, and a "flat," overlooking the water?

The first sixth of the book summarizes the changes the political and economy changes from the Civil War; from the years of hunger to the years of development. The majority of the book looks at the present, with chapters devoted to the monarchy, the functioning of government, housing, education, the environment, the arts, the media, the role of the family, the sexual revolution, and of course, the Catholic Church. In 1986 Hooper saw centrifugal forces, in the form of various full-blown or nascent separatist groups: the Basques, Catalans, and Galicians, and speculated on how they might be held together in a Federalist arrangement. In particular, this is the one area of interest for me in his later editions.

Special insights? I found it fascinating that the Spanish military had a ratio of between 100 to 200 subordinates for each general. The author details the power of Opus Dei in the Catholic Church. I also found the entire chapters on family relations and the sexual revolution to be most noteworthy.

Overall, a well-written meld of today's journalism with the depth of the historical perspective. 5-stars for Hooper's account of one of the score of countries with a deep-rooted identity.
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