First published on 2 Mar 2012. Updated on 2 Mar 2012.
Paul Mason, the earnest, curious economics editor of the BBC’s current affairs flagship Newsnight, was among the most reliable interpreters of the tumult of 2011, from recession-hit rural America to Athens’ riot-hit Syntagma Square and the slums of Manila. His starting point was a BBC blog post early in the year which went viral, and the power of new media is a key theme here.
The book feels post-Twitter in more than just subject matter, though. It’s unashamedly episodic: a series of urgent, pertinent snapshots of cause and effect rather than a unified flow. As an economist, Mason offers an approachable guide to the faultlines that have undermined the immutability of capitalism as the world’s only viable system. As a reporter, he’s spoken to activists and bankers, slum dwellers and politicians, trading in an energy derived from the thrill of what he’s witnessing.
It’s a courageous journalist who volunteers a first draft of history in a period as volatile as this, but at least he’s been brave enough to put his head above the parapet.