The Europe Illusion

Britain, France, Germany and the Long History of European Integration

Stuart Sweeney

The Europe Illusion

Stuart Sweeney

Distributed for Reaktion Books

368 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4 | © 2019
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9781789140606 Published May 2019 For sale in North and South America only

In The Europe Illusion, Stuart Sweeney considers Britain’s relationships with France and Prussia-Germany since the map of Europe was redrawn at Westphalia in 1648. A timely and far-sighted study, it argues that integration in Europe has evolved through diplomatic, economic, and cultural links cemented among these three states. Indeed, as wars became more destructive and economic expectations were elevated these states struggled to survive alone. Yet it has been rare for all three to be friends at the same time. Instead, apparent setbacks like Brexit can be seen as reflective of a more pragmatic Europe, where integration proceeds within variable geometry.

Review Quotes
John Darwin, author of "Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain"
“Crisply and engagingly written, and with a sophisticated grasp of the economic issues at stake, The Europe Illusion adds much-needed historical depth to our current debate.”
Peter Wilson, University of Oxford
“As the United Kingdom struggles to redefine itself and to determine its future relations with Europe and the wider world, Sweeney offers a timely reminder of how far this country’s fate has been tied to those of France and Germany. A thoughtful and measured contribution to the current Brexit debate.”
Gavin Hewitt, BBC’s former Europe Editor (2009-15)
"This is the timely story of the relationship between Europe’s three great powers, Britain, France, and Germany. Sweeney’s engaging narrative reaches back over 370 years to demonstrate how history taught each country different lessons and shaped different attitudes towards European integration. It is essential reading for those who wish to understand the risks in Britain standing alone."
Roger Boyes, chief foreign affairs commentator and diplomatic editor, "The Times"
“Sweeney presents a masterful account of how Europe has been shaped by the intertwining of British, French, and German interests and ambitions. He scrapes off Europe's historical layers like an archaeologist with a trowel: migration, the fumbled economics of integration, nationalism and the puzzle of pooled sovereignty, war, diplomacy and statecraft, all the bubbling crises of the moment are traced back over centuries. The continuities that he uncovers should be a revelation for those baffled, intrigued or simply anxious about Brexit. . . . The Europe Illusion is a brisk gallop of a book. Its fluency and flashes of wit show Sweeney to be a worthy heir of the great A. J. P. Taylor. It should be read by every exhausted member of parliament, everyone caught up in the complex drama of Britain's quest for semi-detachment from Europe.”
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