The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike : an Essay in Numbers

The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike : an Essay in Numbers

The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike : an Essay in Numbers

The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike : an Essay in Numbers

Synopsis

Conventional wisdom holds that the gulf between Europe and America is wide-and widening further. U.S. opinionmakers regard Americans as tougher and more competitive - from Mars - and the Europeans as softer and unwilling to take risks - from Venus. Europeans have been equally assertive in alleging an unbridgeable chasm. Belief in the divide pervades popular culture as well, evident in the rapid dissemination of derogatory terms like "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" on the one side and"hyperpower" on the other. In recent years, "Euroskeptics" and the anti-Americans have been highly successful in reaching large audiences, and their resulting diatribes, however ill informed, have produced a growing sense of division between American and European publics. But in The Narcissism of Minor Differences, Peter Baldwin, one of the world's leading comparative historians, challenges us to completely rethink our preconceptions. In a bracingly argued but remarkably informed polemic, he lays out how similar the two regions really are in terms of social outcomes, policy, governance, quality of life, and economics. Baldwin does not ignore the important differences between the two regions, but he contends that these are overplayed on both sides of the Atlantic. Writing with literary flair and armed with a truly impressive stock of evidence, Baldwin takes on those who downplay the fundamental commonalities that link the two worlds. Anyone who pays attention to the European-US relationship will have to account for Baldwin's argument-whether they agree or disagree.
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