Review published on May 5, 2017.
Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany, was born in 1954, a quiet girl, extremely studious, but apt to deep personal contemplation as she worked things out for herself. Somewhat of a ‘hippie’ type when at university, she actually squatted illegally for a couple of years before she got into politics. She passed her degree first class in Physics, she could happily discourse about nanotechnology with an expert, she married, only to divorce later, and basically lived life in a rut. Then, as she began her meteoric assent within the upper echelons of government, she had to change from her jeans and sandals garb into something more in keeping with haute couture. The change of lifestyle enthused her with excitement. She turned rapidly from a rather meek female into a dynamic firebrand as she watched the political players hire and fire each other, cheat and connive, all with a spirit of gambling with a country and its people.
I knew nothing apart from media nonsense about Angela Merkel before reading this unauthorised biography. A lot of the book is more a potted history of Germany being split i.e. East/West, with the Berlin wall going up, and down, right up to the present day. Angela lived with her Lutheran parents in the Eastern province. She knows first hand how Communism is supposed to work, but also knows how it goes wrong. The Berlin wall came down amidst Perestroika, but this event almost bankrupted West Germany, as they bailed out East Germany, mainly due to political blindness and unfairness.
Politics in Germany is much the same as the entire world over, someone in charge for a few years as others try to undermine them, then, all change as another person takes over the reins and back to square one again. This book tells it like it is rather nicely. For example, why did Angela Merkel let so many immigrants into Germany? She cogitated for ages and then announced that she was letting thousands in, the reasoning being that the nation could barely pay its pensioners and more earners earning meant more taxes into the treasury coffers to pay the pensions. I await the final outcome of that ploy.
An interesting book that teaches the reader a great deal about more recent German politics, running alongside the rise of Angela Merkel, until she became the person we know today. Quite an enjoyable read for those who have a penchant for the political scene, I personally do not, but it is always good to find unusual things out by reading. It is a simple paperback book, extremely well written, full of fact, and political excuses. I can actually say that I found it almost entertaining to read, especially about some of the revelations that happen along. It made me look at Germany today in a different light.
Reg Seward 5/2
Angela Merkel: Europe’s Most Influential Leader by Matthew Qvortrup
Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd 9780715651827 pbk Mar 2017
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