Nationalism in Europe and America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities Since 1775

In This Review

Nationalism in Europe and America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775
By Lloyd S. Kramer
The University of North Carolina Press, 2011
272 pp. $24.95

Many believe that Europe and the United States exhibit fundamentally different forms of nationalism. Americans, it is said, reside in a nation of immigrants and are thus civic nationalists, committed to a constitution and political values. Europeans reside in nations of blood and memory and are thus cultural or ethnic nationalists, committed to distinctive languages, territories, and cultures. Americans, living on an isolated continent, remain intensely proud, whereas Europeans, having lived through the long-term project of European integration, are now comfortably postnational. American nationalism is bound up with militarism; European nationalism is based more on social welfare ideals. Kramer takes aim at such simple dichotomies. He rejects the notion of a purely civic U.S. nationalism, noting that Americans are just as attached as Europeans to specific geographic attributes, historical memories, cultural traits, and political habits. A reexamination of American and European nationalisms calls for a great book; unfortunately, this is not it. Kramer deserves credit for challenging reductive shibboleths, but he too often glides over the surface of important questions, glossing over history in a questionable manner.

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