A master analyst of contemporary Europe, a veteran observer of French affairs has collected some of his essays written in the last three decades, dealing with the state of Europe from de Gaulle to Gorbachev. The tone belies the title, though Hoffmann emphasizes the hard constraints on policies leading to European integration and in the end concludes that today's European Union is an incomplete construction without historical analogue. Throughout he assesses America's presence, now weakening, as well.
Unlike many of his academic colleauges, he has a clear sense of the importance of personal-cultural factors in international affairs; he is very good on the qualities of leadership needed--and all too often lacking. The essays reflect Hoffmann's changing views; the repetition of some themes is inevitable in an unrevised collection. Erudite, skeptical, ever-stimulating, affecting detachment, Hoffmann is deeply engaging, as was his great model, Raymond Aron.