A candid, unsparing look at the challenges Greece has yet to overcome.

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THE FULL CATASTROPHE

TRAVELS AMONG THE NEW GREEK RUINS

Endemic problems plague a proud country.

Growing up on Long Island in the 1980s, freelance journalist Angelos often visited his grandmother, who lived in a humble, pastoral Greek village with a view of an Apollo temple. In 2011, returning on assignment for the Wall Street Journal, the author found a country in economic ruins, a place “both familiar to me but still foreign enough that I often found myself bewildered by it.” For his revealing and well-informed debut book, Angelos revisited Greece many times, interviewing politicians and ordinary citizens, government administrators and religious figures, émigrés and xenophobes, to investigate the causes and extent of the country’s financial and political crises. Many of those who spoke with him were angry, cynical, and despondent about the future. Repeatedly, the author discovered evidence of waste, graft, and political patronage. Years after two town treasurers were convicted of murdering a mayor, for example, they continued to receive their salaries, even while Greece’s official creditors pushed for bureaucratic reform. Bribes were a fact of daily life; tax evasion, “a national preoccupation. The pervasiveness of the habit, and the government’s enduring unwillingness to do anything about it, was more than any other single factor the cause of Greece’s financial troubles.” Many Greeks resented the European Union for imposing conditions in order to grant economic relief. Germany, especially, was hated by a population that recalled the brutal Nazi occupation. Germany, many felt, “was plundering Greece again, but this time without an army.” Like other European nations, Greece struggles with an influx of immigrants seeking refuge from poverty and persecution. Often the first country where these immigrants land, it resentfully sees itself as “Europe’s basement.” Many citizens believe in a self-serving narrative of “Hellenic purity and superiority” that has resulted in the rise of a fascist political party espousing anti-Semitism, anti-Turkish hatred, and strident anti-immigration rhetoric. Angelos follows these many threads with aplomb.

A candid, unsparing look at the challenges Greece has yet to overcome.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-34648-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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