In This Review

After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent
After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent
By Walter Laqueur
Thomas Dunne Books, 2012, 336 pp

Laqueur is a commentator about whom it is hard not to feel ambivalent. On the plus side, as a widely published scholar of twentieth-century history, now retired from Georgetown and London’s Institute of Contemporary History, he brings formidable intelligence and historical erudition to the task of putting Europe’s current predicament into perspective. In contrast to commonplace conservative critics of Europe, Laqueur, when he cites Brooks Adams or Raymond Aron, Prince Klemens von Metternich or Jean Monnet, sounds as though he knows what he is talking about. On the negative side, this book repeats a set of one-sided criticisms about continental Europe typical of the Anglo-American right: it is militarily weak, demographically feeble, economically incompetent, fixated on human rights, overly critical of the United States, morally relativistic -- and, above all, too Muslim. Laqueur searches in vain for the causes of these alleged problems, obsessing about demographics and non-Christian immigration even while admitting they are not the primary factors. When Laqueur advances such arguments, the subtlety and factual basis so evident in his more general analysis desert him. Still, this jeremiad will surely be discussed widely.