The "West" in the title of this book is not Western civilization but the Atlantic community that was to be the political-cultural basis for the NATO alliance. The author, in a sophisticated piece of intellectual history, explains that this community had to be deliberately constructed in the postwar period and never achieved the emotional allegiance, particularly on the European continent, to make it a durable unit without the Soviet threat. From the beginning there was a competing, French-inspired vision of European identity that did not include the Americans, and by the end of the Cold War all of the countries involved were undergoing a demographic evolution in the direction of multicultural societies that would have little by way of common culture. Coker is, not surprisingly, pessimistic about the political alliance's prospects for survival.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.
More Reviews on Political and Legal From This Issue