The Full Catastrophe by James Angelos

I have fond memories of my trip to Greece that I took back in 2013 with my friends Nayda and Sheida. One thing that stands out in my mind, however, was a conversation that I had with a woman who helped us find our hostel when we first arrived in Athens. She made some comment about how Greece was a beautiful country, but that they were suffering because their government didn’t care about them. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but we thanked her and went on our way. We were young, ignorant Americans just looking to enjoy our holiday in Santorini. The extent of my knowledge regarding the economic crisis in Greece was that the people were lazy, wanted to retire at age 50 and wanted everything for free (because that is what the media told me)

The Full Catastrophe finally explained to me why my initial thoughts were so wrong.

An absolutely fascinating look into the pride and perils of Greece and its bumpy transition into becoming a European Union member. This book is written in a way that is very accessible for someone who doesn’t have a lot of background knowledge in finance, international banking or political affairs. Angelos digs deep into the root causes of the financial crisis that swept Europe and is still being felt still today. He examines the corruption, the cultural disparities and the real tragedy of everyone who has suffered through the systemic political and economic distress in Greece.
I appreciated that he kept personal bias to a minimum and told the story from the perspective of a humanitarian journalist. The personal stories he tells are heart-wrenching and frustrating. It made me question a lot about my own views of other countries based on what I read or hear on the news.

Certain chapters did get a bit long and became a bit dry, but overall I think that it was a great read that taught me a lot of important information about the global economic system and how one country fit into it all. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in economics, the more recent history of Greece, and the cultural clashes that come from globalization.

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