In this insightful examination of contemporary Europe, political scientist Friedman (Next Decade) challenges the view that the European Union and its neighbors have transcended the threat of violent conflict among nations. As background, Friedman explores the darker implications of the individualism, intellectual inquiry, and innovation that led to Europe’s greatness, showing how the culture that produced the Enlightenment descended into barbarity in the 31 years from the beginning of WWI to the end of WWII. He recounts how Europe was shattered during that time, slowly reintegrated during the Cold War, and triumphantly unified by the European Union’s formation in 1991, just as the Soviet empire disintegrated. The book depicts the German-dominated EU and Eurozone as a tense, fragile construct, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis—which broke the promise of prosperity that had drawn nations to join in the first place. Friedman identifies sources of instability in the numerous “borderlands” of Europe, most strikingly between Russia and a “barely functional” NATO. By dispassionately anatomizing the fears, aspirations, and interests of the key players, particularly a resurgent and resentful Russia, Friedman vividly describes a region where memories are long, perceived vulnerabilities are everywhere, and major threats have emerged rapidly and unexpectedly many times before. (Jan.)
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