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Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594036373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594036378
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"How have European political elites stifled innovation and emptied out freedom in the name of solidarity and social justice?  Samuel Gregg tells us how, with clarity and detail. And he tells us how we Americans can retain and reignite our spirit of civic entrepreneurship and love of economic freedom.  This book is a sober warning for all of us. But it's also a vital guide for everyone who want to preserve the free society and the uniqueness of the American experiment."
-Edwin J. Feulner, President, The Heritage Foundation

"If you don't know Samuel Gregg's writings, you don't know one of the top two or three writers on the free society today...Gregg has produced a profound explanation of the economic crisis shaking the Old Continent, and shows where the New World seems headed in the same direction. "Becoming Europe" is magnificent in its scope, compelling in its analysis, and ultimately hopeful in its conclusions..."
-Michael Novak, author, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

"Gregg spotlights the perils of American progressive arrogance so clearly they can no longer be denied or ignored. His logic is incontrovertible. Every economist, historian, and politician should read Becoming Europe."
Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge.

"Becoming Europe might not sound so bad: old buildings, long lunches, generous welfare. But, believe me my friends, it's not where you want to be. Europe is a terrifying example of what happens when the state gets too large and the money runs out. Don't imagine that it couldn't happen to you."
Daniel Hannan, British Conservative Member of the European Parliament

"Highly readable, well-researched and extremely timely. This book is the definitive case why America should cling to its belief that liberty and free enterprise are the source of human flourishing rather than follow Continental Europe into corporatism, big government and economic stagnation. It deserves to be widely read."

Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs International and former special adviser to Margaret Thatcher

About the Author

Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute. He is the author of many books, including On Ordered Liberty (2003), his prize-winning The Commercial Society (2007), and Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy (2010). He lectures regularly in America and Europe on topics encompassing political economy, economic culture, and morality and the economy. His writing has appeared in academic journals and magazines including National Review, The American Spectator, and Crisis Magazine, as well as newspapers throughout America, Europe, and Latin America.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Very interesting and informative book.
R. Carpenter
One of the most insightful and informed economists of our time gives a stunning critique of the frightening direction American economic policy is taking.
Br. Bradley T. Elliott, O.P.
I have read a lot of these kind of books only to become frustrated at our leaders for always doing the wrong thing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For decades many Americans have believed that social democracy as it is practiced in Western Europe is superior to our comparatively market-driven economic system, and that view gained more adherents following the economic crisis of 2008. But Samuel Gregg's wise new book "Becoming Europe" shows how the European model is not a panacea for the problems that result from the imperfections of our own system and urges that we resist the European temptation.

Gregg defines the European economic culture as one which "routinely prioritizes economic security over economic liberty...and where economic incentives lie not in hard work, economic creativity, and a willingness to take risks, but rather in access to political power."

Beginning with the guilds of the Middle Ages and continuing up to the adoption of the euro, the author shows how the European economic model developed and how European economies have been under much more intervention than the American economy has. Gregg also discusses the deleterious impact on Europe by rent-seeking, deficits and debt, inappropriate responses to globalization, and the gigantic welfare state; he also talks about some of the reasons that, once implemented, interventions by the state are difficult to overturn.

Gregg lists in the final chapter actions America can take to avoid Europeanization and the benefits, both material and moral, that would accrue to us by doing so. However, the author cites an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll that suggests that we don't appreciate what must be done to preserve freedom and avoid fiscal calamity in the future.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John on February 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
It is not often that one finds refreshing nuance in books dealing with economy. Economics is not supposed to be about nuance. It usually presents itself in the cold black and white terms of mathematical models and statistical analyses. Perhaps that is why the discipline has been called the "dismal science" since its cold formulae seem bereft of life.

There is life, however, in Samuel Gregg's new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. His work is indeed about economy, but he makes an effort to explain the "why" rather than the "what" behind the present crisis. He resists the temptation to simplify the challenges we face as a nation, and confronts head-on the European welfare state model that looms on the horizon.

Gregg's central thesis is that America risks "becoming Europe" economically if it drifts further toward the dangerous models that are now imperiling the Old Continent and could later threaten us here. He outlines ways by which we can avoid this "European" future.

The substance of his narrative is a meticulous examination of European economic life stretching all the way back to the Middle Ages. Gregg follows the rise of what he calls a corporatist inorganic dirigiste mentality that has long come to dominate the European economic landscape and has contributed to the formation of the Union's modern welfare states. To demonstrate this, he supplies plenty of standard economic data.

However, there is also the refreshing nuance that comes when he steps outside the economic box. Gregg pays special attention to those cultural factors that many economists tend to neglect since they cannot be quantified. Culture is important, he contends. Markets follow culture; ignoring this factor is perilous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman on January 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book explains why Europe's economies are in steady decline and how similar trends are apparent in America. But it is not a dry economic text. Instead it blends economics, monetary theory, history, and an attention to political and cultural trends in an accessible way. The author is especially attentive to the thinking of perhaps the most important social philosopher of the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville, as well as the German economist Wilhelm Ropke (the intellectual architect of the post-war German economic miracle) In the end, the author is cautiously optimistic about America's future, though warns that time is running out.

If you are interested in economics, but think that other factors play a vital role in shaping the economic destiny of nations in the short and long terms, this book is for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KJO on April 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great book. I recommend it to all. It has been well researched. While the coverage is extremely in depth, it is written to be easily understood by non-economists. It gives a long history of european and american economic development. It explains what really drives the underlying political outcomes. It gives a great review of the consequences of various economic theories go governments. It shows how so many European countries allowed their economies to get in the dire shape they are in today with good intentions that have gotten almost out of control. It helps one understand the potentials perils of having central governments trying to be all things to all people. It helps understand the principle that, historically all forms of governments where the people decide the outcome of public policy they, the people, will eventually come to realize that they can vote themselves a "free ride" and in doing so, they tend to eventually bankrupt their country and cause the individuals to end up with much less in the end.
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More About the Author

Dr. Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He has an MA in political philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in moral philosophy and political economy from the University of Oxford, where he worked under the supervision of Professor John Finnis.

He is the author of several books, including: Morality, Law, and Public Policy (2000); Economic Thinking for the Theologically Minded (2001); On Ordered Liberty (2003); his prize-winning The Commercial Society (2007); The Modern Papacy (2009); Wilhelm Röpke's Political Economy (2010); and Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America's Future (2013) as well as monographs such as Ethics and Economics: The Quarrel and the Dialogue (1999); A Theory of Corruption (2004); and Banking, Justice, and the Common Good (2005). Several of these works have been translated into a variety of languages. He has also co-edited books such as Christian Theology and Market Economics (2008); Profit, Prudence and Virtue: Essays in Ethics, Business and Management (2009); and Natural Law, Economics and the Common Good (2012). His forthcoming book is titled, Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing. He has also written on the thought of St. Thomas More.

He publishes in journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy; Journal of Markets & Morality; Economic Affairs; Law and Investment Management; Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines; Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy; Evidence; Ave Maria Law Review; Oxford Analytica; Communio; Journal of Scottish Philosophy; University Bookman, Moreana, and Policy. He is a regular writer of opinion-pieces which appear in publications such as the Wall Street Journal Europe; Foreign Affairs; National Review; Public Discourse; American Spectator; Australian Financial Review; and Business Review Weekly. His op-eds are also widely published in newspapers throughout Europe and Latin America. He has served as an editorial consultant for the Italian journal, La Societa, as well as American correspondent for the German newspaper Die Tagespost.

In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Member of the Mont Pèlerin Society in 2004. In 2008, he was elected a member of the Philadelphia Society, and a member of the Royal Economic Society. He is the General Editor of Lexington Books' Studies in Ethics and Economics Series. He also sits on the Academic Advisory Boards of Campion College, Sydney; the La Fundación Burke, Madrid; and the Institute of Economic Affairs, London; as well as the editorial boards of the Journal of Markets and Morality and Revista Valores en la sociedad industrial.