A Grand Illusion?: An Essay on Europe Paperback – 1 May 2011
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About the Author
Tony Judt was a University Professor, the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies, and director of the Remarque Institute at NYU.
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He writes, "The years 1945-1989 are thus coming to seem more and more like a parenthesis." Arguing that nationalism is the most powerful and influential force in Europe, Judt paints a picture of a Europe that has been historically divided. Any attempts at unity will founder because of inherent national differences and nationalist feelings.
Although Judt offers several cogent arguments, his book fails to take into account the current state of optimism in Europe and the fact that the EU has been widely accepted. After a tumultuous century of division (from the powerful pre-WWI nation-states to the Cold War's establishment of East v. West), Europe today seems eager to latch onto a system that would provide some sense of community. Judt ignores this fact. Also, Judt's argument about Germany seems to me to be illogical, and some his evidence is a real stretch.
Judt's book on Europe has some value--it offers some very provocative points about Europe--but in the end, its overly pessimistic view lacks clarity and a solid factual base.