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on 10 November 2008
The EU is a complex beast. This book covers the EU from a broad range of angles - what it is and how it reached its current form, how it works and through which institutions, in which policy fields and what the broad thrust of the EU's policies in key fields is, how it impacts on the lives of Europeans and the EU's position in the world. It's an excellent book that will give you a decent understanding of the EU.

John McCormick approaches these themes from the academic discipline of comparative politics and public policy. He serves up each chapter with a brief introduction, then the meat, followed by a conclusion which doubles as a summary of sorts. Coverage of each theme is to the point and well-structured.

A reviewer of this book on the American Amazon.com-site writes that McCormick uses easy language. But if, like me, you're not used to reading academic texts on political systems and/or international organisations, you may disagree. It's not a light read and calls for concentration, partly because of McCormick's fairly academic writing style, partly because of the complex topic, and partly because a lot of info is condensed into a relatively short book.

A worthwhile read if you want to move (well) beyond the rough but incomplete understanding of the EU you'll get from just reading papers and magazines.
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on 26 October 2010
The EU is a vast and complex topic of which can be daunting for beginners to the subject. This book provides a very solid grounding for those studying Politics or the EU at first year university level, or those who just have a keen interest in the learning about the European Union in general. Whilst not diving into any huge and complex detail this book does exactly what is says on the cover, provides a concise introduction to the European Union. It's easy to follow and well-written, and for anyone wishing to learn about the EU, I can think of no better introduction.
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on 21 May 2010
The institutions of the EU and how it works is very complex. This guide does a reasonable job in providing an introduction that is easy to understand. Less a reference book to dip into as and when, but more a readable cover to cover work. At 200 odd pages this book couldn't hope to cover every detail of the EU and it doesn't, especially the complexities of the passing EU law via various EU bodies and the process of co-decision. But as a first time guide it's more than adequate.

My only criticism is that beware despite its appearance as a guide, it is written by someone who clearly believes in the EU project and the destruction of the nation state. Criticism of the EU project is discussed in the book but largely dismissed; it could have (and probably has) been written by a UK Liberal Democrat.

So in conclusion, by all means read this book but don't take it as your sole reference point.
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