Reviewed by Michael Mosettig

With “change” being a hot topic this year both in the European Union and the United States, there are a plethora of books about the possibilities for the West to rethink our future and to understand our recent past. Many eminent thinkers have weighed in, as bookshelves in Washington and elsewhere are bulging these days with weighty tomes by big thinkers. This literary surge coincided with the Iraq war and started with the 2003 publication of Robert Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power that sharply contrasted U.S. and European attitudes toward the use of military force. That book was followed (and the reflection broadened) by Fareed Zakkaria’s The Post-American World, Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat and, more recently, Parag Khanna’s The Second World, just to name a few. All of these authors are laying out a vision of the world in the midst of tumultuous change and their theses try to highlight the role the United States will play in it.

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Reviewed by Megan Watson
Seen from 15,000 meters, globalization is a clear and beneficial force. Seen from the street, the view is muddled, and the winds of change appear more threatening. Europe as a whole has gained from globalization. But tell that to the assembly worker without a job or the IT technician forced to take a pay cut.

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Dangerous Nation
By Robert Kagan
Alfred A. Knopf Press, 2006, 544 pages

Reviewed by James Steinberg

Thucydides observed that “History is Philosophy teaching by examples.” Ever since his time, political theorists have studied history to seek enduring truths about the nature of man in society, and about the forces governing relations between nations. Invariably, the search for meaning in the past has shaped the preoccupations and controversies of the present. Each generation brings to the study of history its own dominant questions and concerns, and seeks support in dusty archives for positions that will inform and shape contemporary debates.

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The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
By Antony Beevor
Penguin Books, 2006, 560 pages

Reviewed by Michael Mosettig

One message permeates this latest English-language account of the much-chronicled Spanish Civil War: that it was the rarest of wars because the losers wrote most of the history.

For more than 35 years from the victory of his Nationalist forces until the dictator’s death in 1975, Francisco Franco’s Spain lived a world apart from the political, economic, social, cultural and literary forces that shaped Western Europe after World War II – except for the ever-swelling numbers of pale northern Europeans getting themselves sunburned on Spain’s southern beaches. And it was during those years that Western memory embedded a narrative of the Spanish Civil War championing the opposition to Franco’s takeover and extolling the Republican cause that was aided by outsiders so passionately (and unavailingly) in the 1930s and afterwards.

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L’ Europe n’est pas ce que vous Croyez [“Europe Is Not What You Think It Is”] Talks with Baudouin Bollaert
By Jacques Barrot
Foundation Robert Schuman, Albin Michel Press, 2007, 240 pages

Reviewed by Alexandra Chevalier

Jacques Barrot, a veteran center-right French politician who is vice-president of the European Commission and Commissioner of Transport, sets out in his new book to tackle criticisms and misconceptions about the “European project” that have spread among his fellow French citizens. These grass-roots uncertainties surfaced brutally in the French “no” to the draft European Constitution in 2005, the year after he took up his post in Brussels. Barrot, who had been Minister for Employment and Social Affairs and then parliamentary leader of the Union for a Popular Movement, the majority party supporting the presidential aspirations of Nicolas Sarkozy, clearly feels a didactic mission to clear up the often wrong picture of the EU among its citizens, starting in his own country. His concern about the gap with the facts is evident in his blunt title: “Europe is Not What You Think It Is.”

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