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Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  3,565 ratings  ·  450 reviews
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 attempt
Kindle Edition, 560 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Vintage Digital
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Judith Here he provides some comparisons to Brexit negotiations:
Watch out for his regular contributions to the Guard…more
Here he provides some comparisons to Brexit negotiations:
Watch out for his regular contributions to the Guardian, Bloomberg and BBC Question Time. He is asked to comment on Brexit quite often. Here's a full event on the topic, albeit from a year ago:

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May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics-etc
A work for the ages! "Adults in the Room" masterfully oscillates between the thrilling and the lyrical, the very personal and the universal, giving us a unique glimpse behind the high walls of power.

This book will be uncomfortable or even dangerous for many current politicians, from Europe's governments and EU institutions to the IMF and of course Greece's Syriza party. Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (boy, does that title ever feel inadequate given the impact he had and has!) ne
Paul moved to LibraryThing
Author thinks he's the biggest badass on the planet and economic Jesus (the sacrifice bit, less of the saving angle). I guess if he failed then there's no hope for Greece.

I find it curious how he constantly portrays himself as the only honest politician who's repeatedly being played for a fool by everyone around him friends and enemies alike. He is clearly a clever man so this makes me question how genuine his stories are. Also in case you've not picked up on how principled he is he recounts at
This is an explosive tale, or autobiography, of the former Greek minister of finance, from January to July 2015, who almost destroyed the troika: European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund (and ultimately the EU as well if he succeeded). Yanis Varoufakis rejected the bailout offer from Germany or the EU. In his charismatic, robust, bold and brash manner this highly popular, internationally well-known professor of economic theory, tried to take on the big guns and ...more
Sarah Jaffe
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had to put this down halfway through because it was depressing me; the constant up-and-down mirroring the swing of US politics all summer. And like any horror movie where you know the ending, much of it is excruciating in that it leaves you hoping that things will end differently, only to crash when the result--the result you know is coming--arrives.

Varoufakis is a hell of a writer, something rare for an economist, and he brings things to life. Other people no doubt have a different take on wh
Behind the closed doors of a Financial Crisis…

--I’ve read most of Varoufakis’ general public books (+ reading an academic one); this book was at the bottom of my priorities. I assume general readers enjoy suspenseful first-person narratives (given this book’s relative popularity), but I'm more interested in structural analysis of social issues rather than vicariously re-enacting an individual’s personal choices.

--So, if you want to directly tackle questions of banking crises, austerity
Pedro L. Fragoso
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-read
The Guardian review is right, it is indeed one of greatest political memoirs of all time; also: a towering achievement, a magnificent intellectual endeavour, and one of the best and most important books I ever had the privilege and pleasure of reading.

It is 2 in the bloody morning and I couldn't stop turning the damn pages! As if it was a proper thriller. And I even knew the ending. Also: After all these years, this is a book that manages to be more depressing than 1984! Unbelievable.

I was remin
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly engrossing. Varoufakis tells the story of his attempt to solve the eurocrisis using
the lens of an authentic ancient Greek or Shakespearean tragedy in which characters, neither good nor bad, are overtaken by the unintended consequences of their conception of what they ought to do. I suspect that I have come closer to succeeding in this task in the case of those people whom I found fascinating and rather less so in the case of those whose banality numbed my senses. For this I find it h
Aris Catsambas
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. Starting with style: Varoufakis's prose tends to be overly dramatic and pretentious at times, but it's also undeniably engaging, and his book reads like a thriller.

Regarding substance: the book is a fascinating account of Greece's negotiation with the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission, and I am pretty sure there is much truth in it, but it needs to be taken with a mountain of salt.

Varoufakis's core argument, that Greece's debt is unsustainable, is fa
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just my reaction because others have said it better. This is an outstanding memoir from his precise and exact experience as Finance / Greece. It's an extremely difficult read. Difficult in depth, in context tangent (for people like me, possibly, who are NOT European), difficult to understand the Troika and its "limits" and origins of power especially, and difficult in the overwhelming frustration and depression (quite a spirit killer if you are a fan of democratic republic structure) of the hope ...more
João Martins
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-bookshelf
Fully aware of what I was getting myself into when I started reading this book, nothing prepared me for the impact it was to have on me.
Proudly seeing and feeling myself as a European, this tale is the confirmation that the European Union I have so often romanticised does not exist (and maybe never did). The narrative beautifully details the deep European establishment - opaque, belligerent and undemocratic - through the lens of a breathtaking drama. Except that the final twist, the volte-face t
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing. I imagine he only wrote this as potential alternative to endless screaming.
Nick Klagge
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With Q1 almost over, this is my first contender for best book I read in 2018.

Yanis Varoufakis was the finance minister, briefly, of the left-insurgent Syriza government in Greece that took power in 2015. He is not a career politician, but rather an academic economist who agreed to serve as finance minister because of his strong beliefs about the injustice of the current political and economic situation of Greece. (Actually, I met Varoufakis once at a finance conference in New York, probably in
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Worth the reading. Explains the whole chronology of the Greek crisis and provides us with a rare insider's picture of how EU negotiations look.

However, the great limitation of this book lies in its subjectivity. Varofakis is obsessed with the plans he had proposed and explains them over and over again. He provides us only with very shallow explanations of the EU's reasons to act as it did towards Greece and renders EU leaders as deluded, incompetent, or uncaring. He provides few reasons for the
I get the feeling Yanis Varoufakis wrote this basically as an "I didn't do it" for future historians who might be researching what the hell happened in Greece in the 2010s. And of course, it was clearly his perspective on matters, complete with heroes and villains.

But... it's good. It's gripping as a narrative, and if we are to trust Varoufakis' narrative, which I'm inclined to, it's a master class on organizational failure among politicians and the perfect storm of malevolence and stupidity amo
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book got way too in the weeds and play by play for me--especially since I had followed a lot of this, but the general story is a must-read. Varoufakis pushed back hard on the IMF and the EU's austerity demands and in doing so, exposed some of the deep problems with neoliberal/conservative ideologies baked into these institutions and how hard it is to buck them. ...more
Mike Clarke
Gravy train derailment: a hefty read with a lot of new-endogenous theorising that went a bit over my pretty little head I'm afraid, but don't let that put you off: skip the graph-infested waters and head for the shallows, where Yanis tells a cracking tale of plucky little Greeks (the author, mainly) taking on the Eurovision commission or something. No one bar Yanis emerges from this tale with much credit - neither the Eurocrats, nor the multinational "troika" (his arch-enemy) nor his ex-comrades ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a technical read (largely limited to a day-by-day account of Varoufakis' five months as Finance Minister of Greece), but is the single clearest overview I've read of how Syriza was ultimately unable to honour its commitments to resist the troika's imposed economic policies. Although the author's account may be selective, it accurately summarises how limited the German vision of Greece's economic future is. The book also captures the sheer complexity and difficulty of conducting multilate ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, economics
Varoufakis is the famously difficult character who was (briefly) the inexperienced but economically skilled Greek Finance Minister, and his account of the attempts by Greece's then new left-wing government to engineer a change of direction in Europe's economic policies is fascinating. Through detailed recollection of events, he conveys the extraordinary machinations of the 'Troika' who were responsible for the punishing austerity imposed on Greece and its people, in their collective and prolonge ...more
Wendy Liu
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
As memoir: wooden, defensive, overly detailed. As a glimpse into the political machinations around the Greek crisis: fascinating and at times inspiring. Only recommended if you're actually interested in the inner workings of international institutions like the IMF/ECB, not if you're simply looking for a literary memoir. ...more
Mr. Banks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony Gualtieri
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The collapse of the European Union into a collection of non-democratic institutions that threaten the sovereignty of its member states is one of the great disappointments of the past few decades. Something that history will record as being a lost opportunity no matter how the 21st century transpires. Yanis Varoufakis in this memoir of his time as finance minister for Greece observes these institutions (the so-called "troika" of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the Internat ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
A fantastic political memoir. Would have loved to have some more information on the economics and I am a bit perturbed that he only admits one mistake (whilst around him friends and enemies seem to be making one after another) but other than that it was a fantastic glimpse into what happens behind closed doors in the EU and other Establishments.

Really enjoyed his anecdotes about how the media and governments seem to fall apart whenever he does anything vaguely human like wear a coat or ride a mo
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic historical document. He'll be charged with subjective egoism, but these accusations will fall flat against the light he shines into the black boxes that are the EU institutions. In some ways this is an ethnography - a personal journey which details the processes of negotiating with some of the most powerful institutions in human history. But it is ultimately about failure; his failure. ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you like sausage, you must be careful in studying too closely how the sausage is made. This epic tome of blow-by-blow labyrinthine intrigue to rescue Greece from its own Oligarchic centred financial meltdown within the EU is a must-read.
Michal Mironov
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolute must for everyone seriously interested in politics. Varoufakis provides fascinating insights on how decision-making process works on highest places and how informal debates and deals between politicians differs from official statements and actions. Besides, his narratives and writing talent turns this book into very best political thriller. Even those, who don’t agree with author’s political preferences (me included), will very likely admit he‘s a smart opponent. Want a pro ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting political memoir by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, this is an engaging read for those who have followed the happenings after Syriza came to power in Greece after a second bailout plan imposed by EU on the country lead to a humanitarian crisis. Syriza was voted to power given their promise of no austerity. The electorate wanted tougher negotiations with the Troika and they wanted a government which didn't want to succumb to the Euro Group pressure.

It was told that
Mr Varoufakis' autobiography as a policymaker is a must read despite flaws.

This is perhaps the best book to narrate how inadequate and shortsighted powerbrokers who decide the fate of tens of millions are. Their behind the scenes negotiations are as uncertain in the way they go about as their subsequent decisions appear in their decisiveness. And if the author's views are believed, the decisions are often based on factors that are anything but salubrious. The long-term future of Euro is particul
Simon Dobson
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bonanza
An emotionally charged but very readable personal account of the third stage of the Greek financial crisis, as told by one of the protagonists.

It's important to bear in mind that this is autobiography, not history, and as such can be excused for being polemical in Varoufakis' defence. It's detailed and complex in its political overtones, but the core argument is very simple: the Greek financial crisis long ago ceased to be about economics and became a morality play in which the Greek state is fo
Grig O'
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As someone who spent the first half of 2015 constantly refreshing the Guardian website (and Varoufakis' blog, whom I'd discovered in his Valve days) for the latest Greece news, this book came to me like a stream of golden nectar straight from the chalice of Zeus. To anyone following these kind of geopolitical events, such a memoir is a rare glimpse behind closed doors, uncovering facts and features usually out of reach for the non-initiatied.

Now, Yanis is a rockstar, and his bombastic persona mi
Luuc Brans
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Writing the most interesting political read this year, Varoufakis manages to critically show and reflect on the inner-workings of the international political machine. His metaphors hit home and he manages to build up the suspense even though you already know how this Greek tragedy ends. His indiscrete account of his negotiations with the European institutions and the troika during his five-month tenure as Greece's finance minister is juicy and interesting for anyone with a knack for internationa ...more
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Let me begin with a confession: I am a Professor of Economics who has never really trained as an economist. While I may have a PhD in Economics, I do not believe I have ever attended more than a few lectures on economics! But let's take things one at a time.

I was born in Athens back in the mists of 1961. Greece was, at the time, struggling to shed the post-civil war veil of totalitar

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