The New Old World

The New Old WorldThe New Old World by Perry Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is composed of articles Anderson had written over a decade or so, mostly for the LRB. This gives the book an uneven structure, as the pieces were written at different times for slightly different purposes. What’s more – as surveys of specific nation-states – they’ll date. Having said this, they are brilliant examples of synthesis: Anderson is terrifically erudite, and these show his command of other sources (for there is no primary research involved here). Anderson gives sweeping outlines of the various countries: Germany, France, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey. If you want examples of how to do a concrete examination of various nations’ political cultures, these are wonderful. Still, one never quite gets a sense of Europe as Europe – as a semi-unified entity, with its own larger dynamics. Indeed, the opening and closing essays only highlight this lacuna, for they examine the history of Europe as a concept and creation and its potential future. What’s more, most of the essays were written before the GFC, which means that already they feel a little dated. In a decade, one suspects the book will feel all the more so.

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