Europa: How Europe Shaped the Modern World

Julio Crespo MacLennan. Pegasus, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-68177-756-6
MacLennan, director of the Cervantes Institute in London and a history professor at Oxford and Tufts universities, has written less a brief history of Europe than a study of the continent’s outsized political, socioeconomic, and intellectual influence on the rest of the world. Thus, for example, the events of the revolutions of 1848 are skimmed over; MacLennan is more interested in, and writes well about, the ideological changes they brought to Europe’s governments: “equality of men as a human rights principle” and that “government must be an expression of the people’s will.” MacLennan’s book is chock-full of interesting facts and observations—who knew, for example, that the Philippines was perhaps the first country to abolish slavery, in 1574?—yet is a bit dry, lacking colorful quotes and anecdotes. He favors western European history; the Hapsburg Empire, Poland, and Russia are somewhat neglected, except in a fascinating section on the Russian empire’s growth. In trying to cover so much, MacLennan glosses over some important matters, as when he dispatches existentialism, post-WWII critics of Marxism, and the antinuclear movement in a single paragraph. He also makes some glaring mistakes (George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” was an essay, not a novel), and his assertion that the E.U.’s “model of supranational political and economic integration... will have universal appeal” is questionable in light of, for example, Brexit. This is an idiosyncratic but fascinating look at role Europe plays on the world stage. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Shaw Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-64313-244-0
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