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The Passage to Europe [Kindle Edition]

Luuk van Middelaar
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

As financial turmoil in Europe preoccupies political leaders and global markets, it becomes more important than ever to understand the forces that underpin the European Union, hold it together and drive it forward. This timely book provides a gripping account of the realities of power politics among European states and between their leaders. Drawing on long experience working behind the scenes, Luuk van Middelaar captures the dynamics and tensions shaping the European Union from its origins until today.

It is a story of unexpected events and twists of fate, bold vision and sheer necessity, told from the perspective of the keyplayers – from de Gaulle to Havel, Thatcher to Merkel. Van Middelaar cuts through the institutional complexity by exploring the unforeseen outcomes of decisive moments and focusing on the quest for public legitimacy.

As a first-hand witness to the day-to-day actions and decisions of Europe’s leaders, the author provides a vivid narrative of the crises and compromises that united a continent. By revisiting the past, he sheds fresh light on the present state of European unification and offers insights into what the future may hold.

Product Description


'A must-read for reform-minded pro-Europeans and sceptics alike.' (Lord Mandelson) 'The author describes the politics of the European project with historical accuracy and some verve... It has much to teach those who want to understand the EU's recent political dynamic.' (The Economist) 'Diagnoses Europe's troubles with realism and clarity... It is a discerning, balanced, gracefully written book, flavoured with the insights of political science but filled with the meat of European Union history over six decades.' (Tony Barber, Financial Times) 'An erudite alternative to the persistent drumbeat about the coming, market-driven disintegration of the European Union... An intriguing presentation of views seldom reported so readably and in such depth.' (Kirkus Reviews) --Lord Mandelson, The Economist, Financial Times, Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Luuk van Middelaar is a Dutch political philosopher and currently policy adviser and speechwriter to the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. His first book, Politicide, won the Prix de Paris in 1999. Since its original publication in Dutch, 'The Passage to Europe' has won the Socrates Prize for the best Dutch philosophy book, the Prix Louis Marin of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, and the European Book Prize 2012.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 838 KB
  • Print Length: 391 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0300181124
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (15 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #361,257 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding a new language for Europe 25 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Luuk van Middelaar is a political philosopher, but he's impatient with scholarly solitude. His hero is Machiavelli, not just because he's a good writer but because he understands that politics is about how events shape our political systems - and not the other way round.

This remarkable book uses all the tricks of the writer's trade to tell the extraordinary story of the European Union. Van Middelaar's approach combines lucidity with a knack for metaphor; as a result, the tale he tells is clear and - shout it loud - deeply enjoyable.

We need, says van Middelaar, a new vocabulary for Europe. The fights in the Union have always been about words. De Gaulle and Thatcher, for example, both resisted the translation of Assembly into Parliament, a word that threatened their sacred notion of sovereign states. They lost.

Since then, says van Middelaar, the European project has been described in terms of what he calls 'two spheres': an outer sphere (the club of nation states) and an inner sphere (the unified community). Van Middelaar draws our attention to a third sphere: `the intermediate space' between the ambitions of the federalists and the scaremongering of the eurosceptics. This third sphere - visible most obviously as the European Council - is potentially the most creative of the three. Van Middelaar knows this intermediate space well: since December 2009, van Middelaar has been a member of the cabinet of Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council's first permanent president.

This middle space is deeply paradoxical. The European Council has no legislative power, but it's charged under the Lisbon treaty with defining "the general political directions and priorities" of the Union.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful Book on the European Dream 29 May 2013
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
There are lots of dry tomes on European politics: this one reminds me of of Larry Siedentop's Democracy in Europe because it's well-written and, on occasions, playful. It's a detailed history of where we've got to with the European Union, and also a philosophical musing on what binds us together.

Van Middelaar explains the 'Roman', 'Greek' and 'German' strategies to build a collective identity, but concludes it's a project 'in progress'. We don't seem to have created anything that has the same grandeur of the 'Founding Fathers' but something has evolved over the years which many of us think is worth cherishing.

If you want to understand what the European Union is about and converse knowledgeably about its future, you need to read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent & highly recommendable read! 4 Aug. 2014
By dD
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent analyses and observations, written in a very accessible manner. Highly recommended read for everyone - from European citizen to those working in Brussels/ Strasbourg/ Luxembourg.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed all,the books I have purchased from Amazon.All have been informative and enjoyable to read and I would recommend them to anybody.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. 4 Nov. 2013
By James T. Ranney - Published on
Sometimes the best books on "the law" are written by non-lawyers, and this is an example. The author is part-philosopher and part-historian, and does an excellent job of conveying the basic underpinnings of the EU experiment. Does a good job of conveying how the EU has taken on a life of its own.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Very perceptive 26 Jun. 2014
By Joseph DUNNE - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Provides a stimulating qualitative, philosphical and politcal framework for the enquiry into issues of European identity. It is also very clearly written and easy to read.
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read representing a trend in contemporary EU studies 27 Dec. 2014
By Maria Stoicheva - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An excellent read representing a trend in contemporary EU studies, which offers analytical perspective without relying extensively on quantitative data and sources.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 3 Aug. 2013
By Richard Condon à Bruxelles - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an original and interesting view of European unification. It should be compulsory reading for British and other Eurosceptics.
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