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After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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About the Author
WALTER LAQUEUR was the director of the Institute of Contemporary History in London and concurrently the chairman of the International Research Council of CSIS in Washington for 30 years. He was also a professor at Georgetown University and the author of more than twenty-five books. He has had articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and countless other newspapers worldwide.
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However, I found the treatment of individual topics rather light on details. While many trends were discussed and there were personal observations by the author and many examples, there is almost a complete lack of charts, graphs, tables, etc. that would give the big picture overview of the trends in visual form. Some topics that I think deserve to be part of any discussion on the overall health of a continent, including the rate of new business formation, job creation statistics, relative economic competitiveness, government deficits and debt and the associated stress on the welfare state, and the trends for each of those, are almost entirely absent. The book makes more sense as a memoir of sorts, a collection of observations by a seasoned observer of the European scene, rather than as a Summa Theologica on the decline of Europe. As it is, the book certainly could have benefitted from a research assistant or two to work side-by-side with Mr. Laqueur to put flesh on the skeleton that he drew.
There were also some seeming contradictions that deserved further explanation. For example, the author made much of the immigration of Muslims into various countries in the EU, and their relative lack of assimilation in comparison to earlier waves of immigration, yet elsewhere in the book, when the discussion is regarding demographics, the statement is made that immigrant birthrates are falling. This suggests that the Euro-norm aversion to having children seems to be rubbing off on the newer residents, but no further explanation is made.
Nevertheless, despite the gripes, I found the book an interesting enough read that I didn't regret the time spent doing so. It is particularly recommended for someone with only a limited knowledge of the European condition, who has never stopped to think about the future of the European Union in any detail. For such a reader the book could be an eye opener, and will help explain why the Europe of the future will have nothing like the influence on world affairs that the Europe of the past did.
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way of news and books, but always curious about Europe at large, the...Read more