Nationalism has always posed a problem for Western (liberal) intellectuals. Its utter irrationality confounds liberalism's belief in the rational, ordered nature of human beings. This fascinating collection of essays, by distinguished academics from America and Britain, suggests that this group of intellectuals at least has come to terms with the beast. They don't celebrate nationalism, of course, but recognize its power and appeal and address issues like minority rights within the framework of nationalism. There are no high-minded condemnations of nationalism here; in fact, one is struck by the tone of modesty throughout.
Like most edited volumes this one lacks much coherence and is of uneven quality. But some of the essays are outstanding, making it well worth serious attention. In particular, there are interesting theoretical essays by Liah Greenfeld and Michael Mann; a mischievous defense of self-determination by Tom Nairn; and two highly accomplished studies of particular, important countries-Stanley Hoffmann on France and Ashutosh Varshney on India.