Timothy Garton Ashs latest book Free World: why a crisis of the West reveals the opportunity of our time
grapples with the big issues facing Europeans in the twenty-first century and in the process he explores the following questions: Is the world now divided between the West and the Rest? Is the West now divided between Europe and America? Can the West be put together again, and, even if it can be, should it be? What is the right we for our time? Most importantly, as the extraordinary project of associating twenty-five diverse European countries in a single political community takes shape, what kind of emotional glue can be found to hold them all together?
The book opens by brilliantly illuminating the political divisions in Britain between a Right that takes its stand with America and against Europe and a Left that argues the direct opposite. What makes Ashs analysis of the current scene so enlightening is his account of the British identity crisis captured in the idea of Janus-Britain. Janus (the Roman god of doorways, passages and bridges) had two faces pointing in opposite directions, one at the front and one at the back of his head. Britain, Garton Ash argues, has four. The back and front faces can be labelled Island and World; the face on the left says Europe and that on the right America. What Britain lacks but desperately needs is a minimal consensus about what story it wants to tell of itself, where it is and where it would like to be. The most complex, ambitious and promising paththe one Tony Blair is attempting to take and the one least represented by the pressis to try to pull America and Europe together.
The whole of the new enlarged Europe, the author argues, is engaged in a great debate between Euro-Gaullist and Euroatlanticist forces and on its outcome depends the future of the West. If the great EU project is to succeed and the problems of the Middle East and the developing world ever to be overcome then European and American partnership is our best hope. Garton Ash ends with a compassionate and intelligent set of suggestions plotting courses for the future. He insists that foreign policy is too important to be left to the people who govern us. Its not that theyre all scoundrels its just that "half the time they dont really know what theyre doing." Overall Free World is an outstandingly sensitive historical and political analysis written with a confident and imaginative authority. --Larry Brown
A brilliant analysis - practical, without illusions, original, sparklingly well-written and, above all, inspiring. -- Madeleine Albright
A compelling manifesto for the enlargement of freedom and a new era of world politics. -- Vaclav Havel
A red-hot, passionate manifesto for free trade, responsible environmentalism, a better deal for the world's poor ... He has my vote. -- Chris Patten, Guardian
Garton Ash is a compulsively witty writer ... a boldly global book - his most ambitious to date ... brilliant. -- Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph
We are blessed in this country to have intellectuals like Timothy Garton Ash ... an illuminating and stimulating book. -- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent