The Idea of Europe: from antiquity to the European Union edited by Anthony Pagden
|Reviewed By:||Peter Stirk|
|Reviewed in:||Political Studies Review|
|Date accepted online:||04/03/2004|
|Published in print:||Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 196-301|
This is an extremely wide-ranging book, with conceptual surveys covering antiquity (Pagden and Pocock), through to the Middle Ages (Jordan), seventeenth-century Dutch visions of the polity (Blom), the idea and impact of the Napoleonic vision (Fontana) and Weber's contrast between
The editor has succeeded in his stated intention to bring together diverse disciplinary viewpoints. In a helpful introduction, he promptly also draws attention to the diversity of assessment by his contributors, some taking a highly critical view of the legacy of Europe, others being more optimistic. This is reflected, on the one hand, in Pagden's account of Europe's 'unusual' ability to achieve an enduring identity and Jordan's claim that the sense of common culture was 'nothing short of remarkable'. On the other hand, Herzfeld concludes that 'the idea of a distinctive European selfhood is a mirage'. Taken as a whole, this book is a treasure chest of insights and provocative questions with a recurrent unifying theme. The quality of contributions and breadth of vision are impressive. It should be read widely, above all by those not accustomed to placing the idea of Europe in such a wide setting.