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The European Tribe (Vintage International) Paperback – 2 May 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375707042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375707049
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Makaris on 1 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would like to know who paid for this very extensive and expensive trip around Europe, undertaken, it would seem, to confirm the view that Europe is full of racists and bogus symbols of its own inflated self-importance. Philips understands little (observing that Munich was not much bombed during the war) and likes even less. He riles at drunken tourists but gets drunk himself (in France) and goes to a night club or clip joint in Norway where he narrowly avoids being picked up by a woman from Trinidad. He observes the tackiness of Poland but resents their admiration of America. Italy prompts him to speculate about Othello. A very uneven account of a breathtaking journey through 1980s Europe, it tells us more about its author than its ostensible subject.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alex Magpie on 1 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Caryl Phillips, a black man brought up in England, decided to tour Europe to try to understand what makes a white European and what makes the difference between him and them. The social heaviness of this premise is lightened by Phillips's excellent writing style that is both intelligent and humorous. Although a study on Europe the USA also come in for a bashing- American tourists making careless comments being one of Phillips sources for both comedy and prejudice.
Unfortunately, Phillips never really answers his own question on what makes Europeans similar and by the end seems just as confused as he was to start. It seems that even though he has made some progress he has answered up even more channels of study. In a way this conclusion makes TET more human and true- Phillips seems to be saying throughout the book that all individuals are unique and therefore a study of a continents people is almost doomed to failure.
Having said that Phillips does make some very good observations as he travels Europe and as he sees the world as a black Englishman looking for some kind of identity. The passages on Auschwitz are especially moving and give some insight into persecution.
TET is an entertaining, moving and insightful book about identity and self-knowledge if a somewhat flawed study on a racial group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
My Island Man 8 Aug. 2000
By J. Chapman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I stumbled across "European Tribe" and decided to read it not only because it was written by someone born in my island (St.Kitts & Nevis), but because it describes places that I long to visit. Caryl Phillips uses a thought provoking style to tell of his travel around the world. As I journeyed with him I enjoyed his vivid and frank language and also his analysis of the different cultures. I also appreciate Caryl Phillips' use and revelation of historical facts and theories to tell his story. I will recommend "European Tribe" to anyone interested in a black man's expereince with various cultures of the world.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Thoughtful Analysis of European Culture 23 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In his narrative, The European Tribe, Caryl Phillips writes about his experiences as a black British intellectual traveling mostly in Europe. He starts in Casablanca and works his way north visiting such places as Paris, Venice, and Amsterdam, finishing up in Russia before returning to England. This book was originally written in the early eighties, so Phillips is describing some places still behind the Iron Curtain. But this edition does include an afterword written in 1999. In his rational way, Phillips comments in the afterword, "Europeans are human beings. They are subject to the same insecurities, the same inability to forgive, the same prejudices, the same disturbing nationalism, the same cruelties, as any other people" (132). This is a good travelogue, but it is also an enlightening book for people whose main reading about the black experience has been from the viewpoint of African-Americans.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Europe through the eyes of a Black Englishman 21 Sept. 2000
By saskatoonguy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Phillips' travels, which occurred before the fall of Communism, cover Morocco, Gibralter, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Norway, and the Soviet Union.
Any travel narrative needs a 'hook' or a theme, and Phillips' is to seek out things that he can particularly relate to, as an Englishman of Black descent. He identifies with the plight of European Jews, and in other countries he highlights encounters with local Blacks. He seems to be straining for material at times, and oddly, rarely goes out of his way to seek out the local Black community, instead relying on happenstance. Yet, as he points out, the results of the Caribbean diaspora are everywhere: Even in northern Norway, he encounters another emigrant from the English-speaking Caribbean. Norway is also the occasion where the author loses his temper due to one-too-many racist incidents, and the target of his eruption is, of all things, a Norwegian customs officer. Phillips is paranoid about the revival of fascism in Europe, but perhaps that's understandable as he recounts racist slights and insults (some quite shocking to this white reader) that occur during his travels, as well as from his life in the US and UK.
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