THE EUROPEAN DREAM: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

Jeremy Rifkin, Author . Penguin/Tarcher $25.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-58542-345-3

Why are so few Americans paying attention to the dramatic changes taking place across the Atlantic, Rifkin (The End of Work ) asks in his provocative and well-argued manifesto for the new European Union. Famously, Americans "live to work" while Europeans "work to live," and Rifkin demonstrates statistically and anecdotally that Europe's humane approach to capitalism makes for a healthier, better-educated populace. The U.S. lags behind in its unimaginative approach to working hours, productivity and technology, Rifkin claims, while Europe is leading the way into a new era while competing well in terms of productivity. Rifkin traces the cultural roots of what he says is America's lack of vision to its emphasis on individual autonomy and the accumulation of wealth; Europe's dream is more rooted in connectedness and quality of life. Americans may be risk takers, but Rifkin is more admiring of risk-sensitive European realism, as well as its secularism and social democracy. Exploring the history behind the two continents' wildly differing sensibilities, Rifkin examines the myth of the U.S. as "land of opportunity" and the two continents' contrasting attitudes to foreign policy, peace keeping and foreign aid. Rifkin's claims are not new, but he writes with striking clarity, combining the insights of contemporary sociologists and economists with up-to-the minute data and powerfully apt journalistic observations. While he may appear to idealize Europe's new direction, Rifkin's comparative study is scrupulously thorough and informative, and his rigor will please all readers interested in the future of world affairs. Agent, Jim Stein. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/12/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 434 pages - 978-1-58542-435-1
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