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Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West Hardcover – November 2, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Colossal events such as the fall of France during World War II or the dismantling of the Berlin Wall create seismic shifts in geopolitics. Alliances are broken or forged. Power and influence are redistributed. According to Timothy Garton Ash, author of Free World: Why a Crisis in the West Reveals the Opportunity of Our Time, the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent war in Iraq have produced such a crisis in the West. French and German opposition to America's war have signaled a severe rift between these one-time staunch allies and have raised questions about European identity, the role of Britain in this struggle, the direction of U.S. foreign policy, and most important, the spread of freedom and democracy to the poor and voiceless millions in the developing world.

France's attempt to become the voice of the European Union and to defy the will of the U.S. marks a departure from an age-old power structure. Or does it? In clear and engaging prose, Ash, an expert on European-American relations, places the crisis in a historical context dating back to the Second World War. Ash maintains that the future of the West depends on the EU's choice between Gaullism (Europe as "not-America"), or Churchill-style Atlanticism (Europe as a partner of the U.S. with England providing the bridge between the two). At the same time, the world's hyperpower, the U.S., must decide if it will continue to pursue unilaterally its foreign policy of self-interest combined with a Wilsonian edict to spread democracy, or embrace the kind of transatlantic interdependence that already exists in the business world. Wisely, Ash cautions against oversimplification and effectively deflates the myth that there is one America or one Europe. He shows that "There are not two separate sets of values, European and American, but several intersecting sets of values." Therefore, he urges cooperation between these two great powers. Only then, says Ash, can the West reverse its potential decline and spread its legacy of democracy and freedom to the "unfree" world. --Silvana Tropea

From Publishers Weekly

A Great Britain caught between America and its Continental neighbors—on Iraq and much else—commences Ash's look at the 21st-century's strains on relations in the West. As the eminent British scholar and journalist (The File) moves on to the Continent, he echoes several recent critiques of the call for a unified Europe to act as an alternative superpower, citing the "uneven development" of the European Union. He suggests, however, that the European community still has a vital role to play in advocating the spread of freedom around the world, and looks forward to the day when America treats Europeans as "full partners in a common enterprise" in doing so. For Ash, that enterprise is largely economic. He calls for a global "war on want" and urges Western nations to open their borders to trade from developing neighbors; emigrants from undeveloped countries in the Arab world will turn to Europe, he argues, for homes and jobs. He also points to the imminent threat of global warming, which inspires his harshest criticisms of the current American government. The combination of sweeping historical insight with journalistic immediacy, related in Ash's own conversational style, should help this incisive commentary on world affairs stand apart from its competitors.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400062195
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,963,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you have read T.R. Reid's recently published "The United States of Europe" (strongly recommended), you will know that the European Union is certainly evolving into a formidable power. Unfortunately the U.S. has not paid much heed, much to our detriment given the lack of support for recent U.S. actions in Iraq. Author Timothy Garton Ash, a fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford, has written a perceptive and ultimately reassuring book about the current rift between the United States and Europe. Citing the Iraqi conflict as a touchstone, he convincingly argues that the West has always been in turmoil and that the current struggles only show the resonance of the democratic process on a more global plain. First, he accounts for the more fundamental differences in lucid terms marked by the governing administrations. He observes Americans are more religious than Europeans, which seems apt given the recent election results. Americans are more distrustful of government and tolerate greater economic inequality in return for greater individual freedom. Americans place more emphasis on economic growth than on protection of the environment. Americans are more jealous of national sovereignty and have strong feelings on issues anathema to Europeans like the death penalty and gun ownership.

From this Atlantic division, Ash recognizes sharper differences within the U.S. and Europe. Europeans are divided into "Euro-Atlanticists", who want political ties with the U.S. and worry about the sovereign tendencies of the European Union, and "Euro-Gaullists", who see the EU as an essential counterweight to the U.S. and support a consolidated welfare state. For their part, Americans are divided between what have come to be called red-state and blue-state voters.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Given the current world climate it is hard to find a balanced voice. Free World is that. Timothy Garton Ash has the experience needed to write such a work. His books on Europe in the late Eighties and Nineties are essential reading if you wish to understand the European epoch since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time around he covers more ambitious territory: America vs. Europe and the place of Britain in this new post September 11th world. This is quite readable and more importantly quite wise. Ash shows clearly that propagandistic hysteria in the face of the present moment is probably the worst of all responses. He emphasizes what is crucially needed in this polarized world: Dialogue. His recommendations are keen and genuine. Buy several copies of this book and give them to friends of ANY political persuasion. Let's not talk about 'them' in superior tones. Let's realize that our differences will never disappear and talk nonetheless.
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Format: Hardcover
The message of Timothy Garton Ashe's FREE WORLD is familiar to those who are informed, but it remains useful because unlike many other English-speaking writers of these times, Ashe is not engaged in polemics. Rather he seeks to find a constructive middle ground among and between the various factions in the West-Europe and America - which he describes as not unlike lemmings fighting on the edge of a cliff (Briton and France he likens to Mattheau and Lemmon in `Grumpy Old Men'). He suggests that America is divided against itself, and Europe is divided about America. Furthermore, Europe cannot succeed alone and America cannot succeed alone, and the Atlantic-based West probably has only about 20 more years of hegemony before another superstar arises that may not have the best interests of the West at heart-probably from the East-perhaps China, Japan India, or Islamic centered in Indonesia.

Garton says the West needs to address issues of concern in four global areas: 1/ The Near East; 2/ The Far East; 3/ The South with its staggering poverty; 4/ The environmental health of the globe. These four areas are not mutually exclusive. Poverty and population growth which contribute to the degradation of the planet are still the major issues they have been for several decades. Rather than make the problem better the West has made the problem worse. Ashe reviews issues that plague the rest of the world, such as farm subsidies and import regulations in the West that harm rather than help. Free range, free trade, `free' is the operative word.

The educated and informed may not find Ashe is saying anything new, but this book is a good summarization of where we in the West stand at this moment in time, and what our role has been and might be.

If you want to become more informed, i.e.
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Pg 115 Paragraph # 3 sums up the USA errors in judgement so? Mission just beginning I said way back and Southeast Asia N C BUT Respect for Buddhism in Thailand MIGHT Help some 76 BKK
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Best described as a globalist's perspective and suggestions for the problems facing the civilized world. Ash is a well-known British political author and professor of European Studies at Oxford, best known for his writings on recent political history. Although he focuses on Europe, this book displays an understanding of the widening schism between the two "halves" of the West - America and Europe. He accurately assesses the problems facing the post-Cold War West and passionately argues that it must find a way to reunite, that it might continue to lead in a Free World.
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