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The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy


To Americans accustomed to unilateralism abroad and social belt-tightening at home, few books could be more revelatory—or controversial—than this timely, lucid, and informative portrait of the new European Union.

Now comprising 25 nations and 450 million citizens, the EU has more people, more wealth, and more votes on every international body than the United States. It eschews military force but offers guaranteed health care and free university educations. And the new “United ...

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To Americans accustomed to unilateralism abroad and social belt-tightening at home, few books could be more revelatory—or controversial—than this timely, lucid, and informative portrait of the new European Union.

Now comprising 25 nations and 450 million citizens, the EU has more people, more wealth, and more votes on every international body than the United States. It eschews military force but offers guaranteed health care and free university educations. And the new “United States of Europe” is determined to be a superpower. Tracing the EU’s emergence from the ruins of World War II and its influence everywhere from international courts to supermarket shelves, T. R. Reid explores the challenge it poses to American political and economic supremacy. The United States of Europe is essential reading.

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Editorial Reviews

Roger Cohen
… it is indisputable that the ideal of European unity has assumed a kind of global resonance - one that inspires democratic reformers in Ukraine today - and done so in contradistinction to American power. The importance of Mr. Reid's book lies in its evocative framing of this shift.
— The New York Times
Foreign Affairs
Reid, a former head of The Washington Post's London bureau, writes not for specialists but for a general American audience that is either uninformed about the European Union or skeptical about its importance in world affairs. He highlights the progress of economic unification, the rise of European anti-Americanism, and European opposition to the death penalty, and his book is useful for its account of the transformation from the original six-nation "little Europe" to today's continental enterprise. But his book is unbalanced by a double dose of omission: he pays insufficient attention to the demographic and economic factors that threaten to undermine the European social model he praises, and to the tension between the imperative of global competitiveness and a strong attachment to a way of life that is largely a reaction against the economic rat race. He also says too little about the problems of expansion and the difficulties that an almost 30-member EU will face in trying to define a common foreign policy capable of influencing or challenging U.S. supremacy. Further integration is likely to create a domestic backlash that goes beyond mere "Euro-skepticism"; the portrait painted by Reid, however, has no shadows.
Library Journal
Earlier this year the European Union increased its membership from 15 to 25 states. As a result, it now boasts both a larger population and a larger gross domestic product than the United States. Social and cultural differences between the two powers include a European preference for supporting a welfare benefit system rather than a large military and opposition to both the death penalty and genetically modified foods. These differences, combined with Europe's economic clout, have forced U.S. businesses to conduct themselves in ways that conform to European standards. Reid, until recently head of the Washington Post's London bureau, experienced this situation firsthand. His stories, told with wit and charm, highlight the differences for a nonspecialist reader and point out how they already affect our everyday lives. The tone is more cheerful than that of John Redwood's Stars and Strife. Two appendixes provide a summary description of each member state and of the EU's complex governance structure. This informative and accessible study is recommended primarily for public libraries. Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Winston Churchill's dream is fulfilled: a former "coal-and-steel trading arrangement" has grown from common market into globally powerful international community. By many measures, writes Washington Post Rocky Mountain bureau chief Reid (Confucius Lives Next Door, 1999, etc.), the 25 states of the European Union outstrip the United States of America: they have more people, more money, more trade, more class. They have better food and wine; they have better health care, better social welfare, better public housing, better architecture. About the only thing they don't have better is a military, which suits them just fine as long as the US picks on Arabs and Afghanis and picks up the tab of empire. Most of those nations used to like us pretty well, writes Reid, until George W. Bush came along; whereas in 1998, he writes, "78 percent of Germans had a favorable view of the United States . . . in the wake of the war in Iraq, only 38 percent had a positive feeling," a trend echoed by public-opinion surveys in France, Italy, and even England. Though Europeans like us for our pop culture, Reid writes, they despise us for our lack of worldliness, our bluster, our devotion to capital punishment (which they esteem a particular barbarism). With the rise of Eurovision and its shiny blond pop singers (or its latest phenomenon, a Russian "techno lezpop duo"), they may not even need our pop culture much longer. In any event, Reid ably demonstrates, Europeans are charting their own course and are making impressive economic progress in the bargain: his case studies of the rise of Airbus, Nokia, and other firms make must-reading for business analysts, and his account of how the euro came to be universallyaccepted overnight (and, incidentally, how the euro symbol came into being) is an altogether fine piece of reporting. Salutary arguments abound here for those tired of homegrown complainers about high taxes and states' rights. A sturdy companion to Will Hutton's Declaration of Interdependence (2003), written with an eye to an American audience. Agent: Gail Ross/Gail Ross Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143036081
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/25/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 676,743
  • Product dimensions: 5.61 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

T. R. Reid is a longtime correspondent for the Washington Post and former chief of its Tokyo and London bureaus as well as a commentator for National Public Radio. His books include The Chip and Confucius Lives Next Door.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Sleeping Through the Revolution

One: The Atlantic Wars

Two: The Invention of Peace and the Pursuit of Prosperity

Three: The Almighty Undollar

Four: Welch's Waterloo

Five: L'Europe Qui Gagne; or, I Can't Believe It's Not American Butter

Six: The European Social Model

Seven: Showdown at Capability Gap

Eight: Generation E and the Ties That Bind the New Europe

Nine: Waking Up to the Revolution

Appendix 1: The States of Europe

Appendix 2: Inside the Belgeway: The Governing Structure of the European Union

About the Author

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A moment in geopolitics.

    Its reporting style can make it a touch dry in terms of reading, but the sheer depth and variety of coverage is really a treat.

    everything from early empires to cultural contributions to current economic overtaking--with detailed information about the approaches that allow someone like me with a very minimal (pitiful is more like it) economic background, to understand the business world much better.

    And even though it is clearly a snapshot of a moment in time (Pre-Obama era; during the obliviousness of the W. "governance"), the information holds up and even provides a better view of how things can and may be changing. (To go from Chapter 5 of this book, "L'Europe qui gagne," to the opening lines by Horace in "The Ask," by Sam Lipsyte, is just wild. The idea being that we are the mess of the First World right now. not as much innovation, taking care of our citizens, helpful business regulations, etc.)

    The key here is that it is amazing the breadth of issues covered.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    Readable look at Europe's superpower potential

    This concise, well-written discussion of the new Europe is a useful introduction to the history of the European Union. Perhaps in the interest of readability, former Washington Post London bureau chief T.R. Reid portrays the E.U. as a threat to the United States and permits himself the luxury of somewhat breathless speculation. However, this sort of thing is a negligible flaw in a book so clearly aimed at a popular reading audience. To Reid¿s credit, he makes the evolution of the Common Market, the creation of the euro, and contemporary Europe¿s various political and economic struggles both readable and interesting. We recommend this book to managers of U.S. companies that have European offices and to anyone interested in contemporary international relations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2005

    Events about Europe's growth foretold by Herbert W. Armstrong

    Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong foretold for years via radio and The Plain Truth magazine and then by The World Tomorrow television broadcast that Europe would grow into this superpower. The growth of Europe has been allowed by God so that Bibical prophesies would be fulfilled. People need to wake up and remember the messages given by Mr. Armstrong on this subject. The Living Church of God, which has a program on Sunday's on WGN, gives the same warning as HWA. Mr. Reid does an excellent job of telling about what is happening in Europe. When this is related to what Mr. Armstrong spoke about, it proves that what HWA warned, will occur.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2005

    An Important Critique of America

    This is a book that every member of the Bush administration should read. But we know, unfortunately, that they don't read, so an important observation about our future will be lost once again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Power on a whole new dimension

    Reid explains incredibly well how the European Union is now a superpower, and a force to be reckoned with. Reid explains that power doesn't come only from a military force, but from Foreign Aid, social services, etc. Americans snoozed as Europe gathered enough strength to become its rival.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2004

    A Hatchet Job

    The author gives us a look at one side of the coin and leaves it up to us to flip the coin and see the counter point. Considering the newspaper for whom he works, He obviously hasn't the strength to flip that coin. Hopefully, someone else will. Until then, don't waste your money on this one. Would you suspect that this was whipped together to influence this year's election?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2004

    An eye opener to a not so nice future for America

    T.R Reid has given us a wake up call. He explains what the EU is, and how it threatens America for world dominace. He gives us incite into Europe's new generation's mind and what shapes it. It is truly a must read for anyone interested in affairs across the Atlantic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2004

    Great book!

    I believe that every American who cares for the future of his country should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2004

    Superpowers Don't Depend On Military Assistance!

    I just got this book and read it with some anticipation. But, I have to say that it's way oversold, mostly by NPR and other 'I wish I was under a Tuscan sun' romanticists of European life, and those despairing of ever achieving a protectionist welfare state in the USA. But fond wishes aside, there are serious, immediate, and fatal flaws in the book's reasoning. While it's true that a superpower does not solely exist of military power, it's very wrong to imply that military power is a unnecessary component. Fundamentally the Europeans do not possess the ability to act as a superpower, as they don't have the conventional military forces and infrastructure to conduct major military operations anywhere in the world (implicit in the definition of a 'super' power). (Nuclear power is important from a defensive point of view, but is hamstrung as a viable policy tool for obvious reasons). This key component of military power is a major factor in diplomatic power, as France recently learned to its sorrow. When the Soviet Union imploded it did not lose its power because its economic strength was eroded, that was always a miniscule component of its strength. It lost 'superpower' status because it could no longer militarily, (and thus diplomatically) influence events in key areas outside its borders. This had an immediate effect on its former allies and interests. A European community that relies defensively on massive infusions (through an increasingly rickety NATO) of voluntary military assistance by nonmember countries does NOT a superpower make. Multiculturalism in Europe? Oh, sure, as long as you come from a Eurocentric member country. One only has to look at how Arabs are treated in France, Turks in Germany, or blacks in Great Britain to see how Eurocentric and racist Europeans can be to their fellow humans. Wake up! European immigration policies are extremely restrictive! I once visited a Turkish fellow with perfect visa/passport and study arrangements who spent 26 hours in Her Majesty's Customs holding cell because of his ancestry and national origin. Why do I know that? The customs officer confided,'We don't like Turks, they overstay all the time.' It's also very amusing that the same people that point to Europe and the EU as a bogeyman also insist on protectionism and high taxes as the answer for American goods and workers. The EU model is actually based on increasing trade and reducing national obstructions, not the opposite. Think of what would happen if the Western Hemisphere formed a similar structure - much more powerful in economic possibilities with its rich mixture of industrial/tech development, natural resources, and low labor costs. The REAL lesson of the EU is that free trade within geographic areas is a good thing, after all; it reduces disruptive transfers of population (illegal immigration) and increases economic power of the member countries!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2004

    Worth reading but not a history book in the classical sense

    This book is useful for several reasons: - it explains to Americans and to many Europeans alike what the EU 'thing' is all about; - it covers the main difference between American and Europeans from a cultural point of view that the author applies to several aspects of life; - it shows that the EU, albeit not a United States, has the weight to carry forward and that US, stopping short of invading it and occupying the land, will have to take it into consideration more and more going forward. Simply the EU has more population and overall wealth than the US; - perception of US from Europe is also sketched. What you will not find in the book is the historian's point of view. The book reads like a non-fiction work but not a history book. The main thing I learned is that in the US a sentence used and abused such as 'united we stand' means mostly fight together. In the EU it means get together and use our social system to protect each other against all enemies, be them Bin-Ladin, unemployment, budget deficit, healthcare costs or else. In the end, the books is a nice collection of lessons on differences between two great nations: the US and the EU.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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