In This Review

The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent
The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent
By Walter Laqueur
256 pp, St. Martin's Press, 2007

The author, a veteran historian originally from Germany, is worried about Europe's future, which he only hopes will be "more than that of a museum." The causes of Europe's troubles, in Laqueur's view, are demographic decline, the failure to integrate new, mostly Muslim immigrants, economic stagnation (due to an overly generous welfare state and an aversion to work), and the stalling of the European integration process. The text of the book is more balanced than its alarmist title, but it may still be gloomier than is merited by the facts. Europe has real problems, but it is still far more prosperous, more stable, more attractive, and more influential globally than nearly all other continents or countries -- and probably still will be in 20 years. Laqueur's Europessimism also assumes Europe to be incapable of adjustment or renewal -- an assumption that can perhaps now be challenged as economic growth has picked up across the continent and France and Germany have elected reformist leaders. The French and some others, mostly in northern Europe, have even started having more babies. The Last Days of Europe is a good primer on the challenges Europe faces, but the epitaph is premature.