Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West

In This Review

Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West

By Timothy Garton Ash
Random House, 2004
304 pp. $24.95

The recent conflict between the United States and Europe over Iraq led some observers to diagnose a crisis within the West itself. In this stirring call for a renewed and reimagined Euro-Atlantic world, Garton Ash argues that the United States and Europe are not doomed to part company over their differences. What looks like an Atlantic divide is in fact a manifestation of a complex, cross-cutting struggle over post-Cold War identities and notions of community within and among the United States, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe. Below the surface, Garton Ash argues, their long-term interests are "common, coincident or, at the very least, compatible"; the West has always been in turmoil, and internal struggles are, paradoxically, a sign of its deep vibrancy and fundamental unity. Moreover, the alternatives to a revived Western system-Jacques Chirac's Euro-Gaullism and George W. Bush's unilateralism-are ultimately unsustainable. Still, even if what divides the West is less significant than what unites it, Garton Ash concedes that the shared narratives and memories that have been its glue have begun to erode, replaced by the "mind-walls of prejudice and constructed difference." He thus ends by calling for a return to the West's founding mission: to advance the cause of freedom worldwide. Garton Ash's optimistic vision will inspire debate, and this extraordinarily astute and beautifully written book will take its place as a classic in the field.

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