In This Review

The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe Since 1492
The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe Since 1492
By Philipp Ther. Translated by Jeremiah Riemer
304 pp, Princeton University Press, 2019
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Refugees have played a role in European politics for centuries. Five hundred years ago, most refugees, such as the Puritans who left England for the Netherlands, were fleeing religious persecution. Over the past century and a half, bouts of ethnic cleansing drove Armenians, Bosnians, and many others to seek refuge elsewhere. Since the middle of the twentieth century, many refugees in Europe have been trying to escape the tyranny of fascism, communism, or religious fundamentalism. Ther, a historian, studies how these refugees have been received over the years. The governments and citizens of destination countries tend to oppose the entry of large numbers of refugees during difficult economic times. These countries generally find ways to reject refugees unless a major geopolitical cause is at stake or diaspora communities intercede on their behalf. Even the most proudly humanitarian governments evade international law and manipulate domestic law to avoid their obligations to refugees. Ther remains ambivalent about the policy implications of his work for states today. He recognizes the domestic political challenge of increasing the intake of refugees but insists that the populist right has exaggerated the threat they pose.