EUROPE RECAST: A History of European Union

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EUROPE RECAST A History of European Union Desmond Dinan Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004. xviii, 373pp, US$59.95 cloth (ISBN 1-58826-205-7), US$23.50 paper (ISBN 1-58826-230-8)

Desmond Dinan's Europe Recast is a superb, eminently readable history of the European Union. Dinan weaves a lively account of the ways in which this complex multilevel system of governance developed and operates. Along the way, he explains why the system has become increasingly complex, making it difficult for students to absorb or understand. In doing so, he offers insights into both events and personalities. The book is a gem. Missing are the hagiography found in some accounts and the dense jargon that sometimes confuses EU studies. Dinan simplifies without being simplistic, offering enough detail to make his point but not so much that readers are overwhelmed.

Europe Recast begins with a short introduction. Nine chapters take us from the postwar period through reversals and recoveries, the Single European Act, economic and monetary union, and the challenges the enlarged EU now faces. Dinan comments on personalities and events, as well as public and academic debates, and does so in ways that are accessible both to general and academic readers. Readers looking for the definitive word on whether spillover drove European integration or the merits of intergovernmental versus transnational approaches to the EU will not find them here. What they will find is a lively book, interspersed with maps, photographs, and pithy quotations that could easily be incorporated into examination questions.

Dinan has a clear sense of the significance of the European project and the forces that have moved it forward. The EU reflects competing visions of European unification. Emerging from World War II, European politicians "wanted above all to end international strife, foster social harmony, and promote economic well-being. …