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The Passage to Europe


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About the Author

Luuk van Middelaar is a Dutch political philosopher and currently policy advisor and speechwriter to the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. He lives in Brussels, Belgium.


"A discerning, balanced, gracefully written book, flavoured with the insights of political science but filled with the meat of European Union history over six decades."-Tony Barber, Financial Times -- Tony Barber * Financial Times *
"Philosophically informed and historically sensitive. . . . [offering] a subtle and detailed account of the evolution of the Union."-Larry Sidentop, Times Literary Supplement -- Larry Sidentop * Times Literary Supplement *
"[The book] has much to teach those who want to understand the EU's recent political dynamic."-The Economist * The Economist *
"An erudite alternative to the persistent drumbeat about the coming, market-driven disintegration of the European Union . . . . An intriguing presentation of views seldom reported so readably and in such depth."-Kirkus Reviews
* Kirkus Reviews *
"This insightful book, written by someone close to events, comprehends and confronts the dynamic tensions in Europe between the politicians and public opinion. A must-read for reform-minded pro-Europeans and sceptics alike."-Lord Mandelson -- Peter Mandelson
"A study that is attracting a lot of attention among those trying to find a way out of the euro crisis. The author is a philosopher, historian and adviser to the president of the European Union. This book is slightly labyrinthine in structure but full of interesting ideas. Van Middelaar rejects the idea that the EU must become a political union to survive."-Gideon Rachman, Financial Times -- Gideon Rachman * Financial Times *

"Beautifully written (and translated from the original 2009 Dutch edition by Liz Waters), The Passage to Europe has deservedly won several prizes and been translated into four languages (and counting). A 35-page prologue written for the English-language version cogently ties the analysis to more recent events. It is well worth digging through the 44 pages of notes, commentary and bibliography which van Middelaar has banished to the back of the book. His wit (he memorably compares the current transitional process to purgatory) and his training as a philosopher shine through (though he wears his learning lightly). His aphoristic, provocative but always entertaining analysis is richly garnered with metaphors and illustrative anecdotes that make what could have been a dry read a colourful pleasure."-Martin Westlake, Literary Review -- Martin Westlake * Literary Review *

"This story [the European project] is well-described by Luuk van Middelaar in The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union. The author is an advisor to Herman van Rompuy, the first full-time president of the European Council. Middelaar's book is a humorous, jargon-free and historically well-informed account of how the EU has developed."-Brendan Simms, Prospect Magazine. -- Brendan Simms * Prospect Magazine *
"Luuk van Middelaar has a command of European political ideas and their long genesis. He is at home too in the undergrowth of the overlapping spheres of influence of the European Council, Commission and Parliament. . . . The result is a major academic analysis of the European Union, its origin and germination. Van Middelaar has a firm grasp on the philosophical antecedents of modern sovereignty from Hobbes and Locke in the 17th century and the practical political sense to know that just because it doesn't work in theory doesn't mean it won't work in practice. . . . Reading this book is to enjoy a synergy both of this history, the politics and the history of ideas that have brought a hugely improbable project to life and sustained it through succeeding crises."-Gerard Howlin, Irish Examiner -- Gerard Howlin * Irish Examiner *
"His encyclopedic knowledge of and intimacy with European affairs will make even a specialist blush with envy."-Publishers Weekly * Publishers Weekly *
"The book I most valued was Luuk van Middelaar's The Passage to Europe, a brilliant account of the development of the European Union. The most insightful book on Europe since Larry Siedentop's Democracy in Europe, and essential reading before voting in the referendum."
-Vernon Bogdanor, Times Higher Education Supplement, Book of the Year -- Vernon Bogdanor * Times Higher Education Supplement *

"The author, a senior EU official, combines inside knowledge with the insights of a philosopher . . . His discussion . . . is illuminating and remarkably readable."-Roger Morgan, Times Higher Education Supplement -- Roger Morgan * Times Higher Education Supplement *

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