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The Pursuit of Europe: A History

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The European Union, we are told, is facing extinction. Most of those who believe that, however, have no understanding of how, and why, it become possible to imagine that the diverse peoples of Europe might be united in a single political community. The Pursuit of Europe tells the story of the evolution of the "European project", from the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which sa The European Union, we are told, is facing extinction. Most of those who believe that, however, have no understanding of how, and why, it become possible to imagine that the diverse peoples of Europe might be united in a single political community. The Pursuit of Europe tells the story of the evolution of the "European project", from the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which saw the earliest creation of a "Concert of Europe", right through to Brexit. The question was how, after centuries of internecine conflict, to create a united Europe while still preserving the political legal and cultural integrity of each individual nation. The need to find an answer to this question became more acute after two world wars had shown that if the nations of Europe were to continue to play a role in the world they could now only do so together. To achieve that, however, they had to be prepared to merge their zealously-guarded sovereign powers into a new form of trans-national constitutionalism. This the European Union has tried to do. In the process it has created not, as its enemies have claimed, a "super-state" but a new post-national order united in a political life based, not upon the old shibboleths of nationalism and patriotism, but upon a common body of values and aspirations. It is this, argues Anthony Pagden, that will allow the Union to defeat its political enemies from within, and to overcome the difficulties, from mass migration to the pandemic, which it faces from without. But it will only succeed in doing so if it also continues to evolve as it has over the past two centuries.


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The European Union, we are told, is facing extinction. Most of those who believe that, however, have no understanding of how, and why, it become possible to imagine that the diverse peoples of Europe might be united in a single political community. The Pursuit of Europe tells the story of the evolution of the "European project", from the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which sa The European Union, we are told, is facing extinction. Most of those who believe that, however, have no understanding of how, and why, it become possible to imagine that the diverse peoples of Europe might be united in a single political community. The Pursuit of Europe tells the story of the evolution of the "European project", from the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which saw the earliest creation of a "Concert of Europe", right through to Brexit. The question was how, after centuries of internecine conflict, to create a united Europe while still preserving the political legal and cultural integrity of each individual nation. The need to find an answer to this question became more acute after two world wars had shown that if the nations of Europe were to continue to play a role in the world they could now only do so together. To achieve that, however, they had to be prepared to merge their zealously-guarded sovereign powers into a new form of trans-national constitutionalism. This the European Union has tried to do. In the process it has created not, as its enemies have claimed, a "super-state" but a new post-national order united in a political life based, not upon the old shibboleths of nationalism and patriotism, but upon a common body of values and aspirations. It is this, argues Anthony Pagden, that will allow the Union to defeat its political enemies from within, and to overcome the difficulties, from mass migration to the pandemic, which it faces from without. But it will only succeed in doing so if it also continues to evolve as it has over the past two centuries.

33 review for The Pursuit of Europe: A History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Well, maybe it wasn't the book that I was expecting or hoping for. But far too much philosophical meandering, and very little hard history. All very worthy I'm sure, but not for me. A handful of terrible typos didn't make it any easier! Well, maybe it wasn't the book that I was expecting or hoping for. But far too much philosophical meandering, and very little hard history. All very worthy I'm sure, but not for me. A handful of terrible typos didn't make it any easier!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Europe is a continent. And apparently, this governmental bureaucrat thinks the continent will dissolve into nothingness, unless the providential strong Leader will emerge to protect Whitedom.

  3. 4 out of 5

    MH

    A dense exploration of geopolitical philosophies of a united Europe from a wide variety of writers, jurists, and intellectuals from the Enlightenment to the EU. Pagden brings in a number of philosophers offering competing ideas of nationhood, sovereignty, colonialism, and the values and challenges of federation (although his brief introductions of some of these men might be a little questionable - to describe Brecht as a "poet and ironist" might be technically true but overlooks what he's best k A dense exploration of geopolitical philosophies of a united Europe from a wide variety of writers, jurists, and intellectuals from the Enlightenment to the EU. Pagden brings in a number of philosophers offering competing ideas of nationhood, sovereignty, colonialism, and the values and challenges of federation (although his brief introductions of some of these men might be a little questionable - to describe Brecht as a "poet and ironist" might be technically true but overlooks what he's best known for, and to reduce William Wells Brown to an escaped Kentucky slave erases all of his later accomplishments). The book's greatest utility might be for scholars seeking an overview of centuries of political thought from figures both famous and obscure. There is one jarring moment, though, that I'm having a hard time overlooking. Pagden writes about how the modern academy "has sought to replace reasoned argument and rational inquiry with strident, generally ill-informed denunciation. And in all this what is entirely overlooked is any recognition that if Europe may be justifiably excoriated for having practised colonialism (although it was hardly alone in this), it was also responsible for bringing it to an end - albeit slowly and painfully, and perhaps in too many places incompletely; that if Europeans can rightfully be denounced for having benefited massively from the enslavement of Africans (although they are not alone in that), they were also responsible for abolishing slavery" (272). The argument that 'white people did terrible, terrible things, but we eventually stopped doing them. We should get credit for that!' is embarrassing and petulant, and really beneath him. I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Interesting read

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leila

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  8. 4 out of 5

    Helyn

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  10. 4 out of 5

    James Harrison

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emrys

  12. 4 out of 5

    Metal Nyankos

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matija Pavlić

  14. 5 out of 5

    عبدالمناف عبد أبوطالب

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robert Kaden

  16. 4 out of 5

    Noah

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    Fred Pirani

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam

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    Beck

  20. 5 out of 5

    Seth

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nitin Rughoonauth

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

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    Tiitu

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dark Forest

  25. 5 out of 5

    George

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    Pierre

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    Carl

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    Henry Moxon

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    elin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

  31. 4 out of 5

    Dom Young

  32. 5 out of 5

    J.

  33. 5 out of 5

    Mel

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