Adults in the Room – review

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The courage, the stress, the loneliness, the fatigue, the hard work, the uncertainties, the toughness of a war voluntarily chosen for a high moral duty.

What happens when you take on the establishment? In this blistering, personal account, world-famous economist Yanis Varoufakis blows the lid on Europe’s hidden agenda and exposes what actually goes on in its corridors of power. Varoufakis sparked one of the most spectacular and controversial battles in recent political history when, as finance minister of Greece, he attempted to renegotiate his country’s relationship with the EU. … (read GOODREADS presentation here)

Adults in the Room is a book that deeply impressed me not only for the political story it tells but most of all for the human experience it describes in between the lines; an experience made of toil and blood, full of sound and fury, that makes you feel sympathetic with within in a few pages.

After seeing Costa-Gavras’ film with the same title – which I review in my blog – I started reading this book. It is indeed a picture that tells a story: even if dealing with a very short segment of history, the book is very symbolic of today’s world enslaved by such an economic power that even elected left-wing governments cannot contrast. My first impression is that this narrative has the breath of a noir, filled with villains in disguise, intrigue, cheating, turning points and so on. That makes reading very interesting, a fact one should not expect in a non-fiction narrative filled with economics’ technicalities and of which we inevitably know the climax and the conclusion in advance.

The thing that most impressed and touched me is the human enterprise behind the public facts, the price one has to pay to fight that almost solitary war, a war voluntarily chosen for a kind of high moral duty; the courage, the stress, the loneliness, the fatigue, the hard work, the uncertainties, the toughness it requires. And of course the sufferings and the doubt, whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. For sure no time to sleep and perchance to dream. The urge to write, to let the story be known, the sense of relief that comes after writing it all down, which is the healing quality of writing, sneaks out of these pages. I think I can tell because I shared the same feelings, in my modest experience: a sense of disgust for what I was witnessing in my country, the rage it gave birth, and the need to write it down, to put my message in the bottle, and that sense of relief I daresay was the same the author felt.

The fact in question is the Berlusconi ventennio which I lived as a nightmare, from the mid-90s to the mid-2010s, and which forced me, so to speak, to write Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy. As I write in the ‘foreword’, writing this book has meant for me a way to clear my conscience, to fulfil a moral duty… Once the book was finished I felt a sense of relief, as if to say: it is all written down here, and there is no way to let it all slip into oblivion.

The Greek government’s 2015 battle with the Troika, and its shocking defeat, is a clear follow-up to the Berlusconi ventennio, it tells the same appalling tale. Many have followed, obviously, in my country, in Greece, in the world. The shrinking of democracy is everywhere in the West, and the Syriza case and the Berlusconi period are just two macro examples of that process that Varoufakis describes in detail form behind the scene.

I emailed Mr Varoufakis telling him my impressions about his book before writing this review. I ended my letter saying ‘Yanis, don’t give up the fight!’. He answered me saying ‘your email reminds me of why we created DiEM25 – and confirms the importance of making it stronger and obviously relevant.’ Not only, the recent publication of #Euroleaks: the full 2015 Eurogroup recordings now public! is further proof that the author is well alive and really kicking.

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