The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike

Overview


There is much heated rhetoric about the widening gulf between Europe and America. But are the US and Europe so different? Peter Baldwin, one of the world's leading historians of comparative social policy, thinks not, and in this bracingly argued but remarkably informed polemic, he lays out how similar the two continents really are. Drawing on the latest evidence from sources such as the United Nations, the World Bank, IMF, and other international organizations, Baldwin offers a fascinating comparison of the ...
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The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike

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Overview


There is much heated rhetoric about the widening gulf between Europe and America. But are the US and Europe so different? Peter Baldwin, one of the world's leading historians of comparative social policy, thinks not, and in this bracingly argued but remarkably informed polemic, he lays out how similar the two continents really are. Drawing on the latest evidence from sources such as the United Nations, the World Bank, IMF, and other international organizations, Baldwin offers a fascinating comparison of the United States and Europe, looking at the latest statistics on the economy, crime, health care, education and culture, religion, the environment, and much more. It is a book filled with surprising revelations. For most categories of crime, for instance, America is safe and peaceful by European standards. But the biggest surprise is that, though there are many differences between America and Europe, in almost all cases, these differences are no greater than the differences among European nations. Europe and the US are, in fact, part of a common, big-tent grouping. America is not Sweden, for sure. But nor is Italy Sweden, nor France, nor even Germany. And who says that Sweden is Europe? Anymore than Vermont is America?

"Meticulous, insistent, and elegant."
--John Lloyd, Financial Times

"A must-read...filled with intriguing facts that add nuance to what can often be a black-and-white debate."
--Foreign Affairs

"An exhaustive and enthralling catalogue of our commonalities that begs a reconsideration of just what it means to be European or American."
--Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While pundits and politicians frequently seize upon the differences between “hissing cousins” Europe and America, Baldwin (Disease and Democracy) combs a dizzying array of statistics (on, for example, life expectancy, greenhouse gas emissions, homosexual experiences, voter turnout, blood donations, illiteracy, prison populations) to measure how deep and wide the chasm actually is. His findings, punctuated by easy-to-interpret charts and insightful analysis, reveal just how different the two continents really aren't—and that the animosity isn't “symmetrical”: European disdain for all things American is much stronger than any enmity the other way. Still, Europe and America are comparable on primary and secondary education spending, on religiosity in certain regions and, surprisingly, on health-care outcomes. While no endorsement of the current U.S. system, Baldwin's data shows that American health-care outcomes are comparable and often better than those in Europe. An exhaustive and enthralling catalogue of our commonalities that begs a reconsideration of just what it means to be European or American. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199836826
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,319,033
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Baldwin is Professor of History at the University of California-Los Angeles. He is the author of Disease and Democracy: The Industrialized World Faces AIDS, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930, and The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Economy 15

2 Health Care 40

3 The Rest of the Welfare State 60

4 Crime 74

5 More Broadly 91

6 Education and the Higher Pursuits 97

7 The Environment 122

8 Civil Society 148

9 Nationalism 160

10 Religion and Science 163

11 Assimilation 176

12 Lumping and Splitting 183

13 A Meeting of the Twain? 204

14 Separated at Birth? 216

15 The Post Facto State 227

16 How the West Was One 236

17 Acorn and Oak 243

A Note on Sources 251

Notes 253

Figure Sources 285

Index 311

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