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234 × 156 mm
394 pages
01 Mar 2019

The Europe Illusion Britain, France, Germany and the Long History of European Integration Stuart Sweeney

In The Europe Illusion, Stuart Sweeney considers Britain’s relationships with France and Prussia-Germany since the map of Europe was redrawn at Westphalia in 1648. A timely and far-sighted study, it argues that integration in Europe has evolved through diplomatic, economic and cultural links cemented between these three states. Indeed, as wars became more destructive and economic expectations were elevated these states struggled to survive alone. Yet it has been rare for all three states to be friends at the same time. Instead, apparent setbacks like Brexit can be seen as reflective of a more pragmatic Europe, where integration proceeds within variable geometry.

‘Stuart Sweeney presents a masterful account of how Europe has been shaped by the inter-twining of British, French and German interests and ambitions. He scrapes off Europe's historical layers like an archaeologist with a trowel: migration, the fumbled economics of integration, nationalism and the puzzle of pooled sovereignty, war, diplomacy and statecraft, all the bubbling crises of the moment are traced back over centuries. The continuties that he uncovers should be a revelation for those baffled, intrigued or simply anxious about Brexit. The Europe Illusion is a brisk gallop of a book. Its fluency and flashes of wit show Sweeney to be a worthy heir of the great A.J.P Taylor. It should be read by every exhausted member of parliament, everyone caught up in the complex drama of Britain’s quest for semi-detachment from Europe.’ – Roger Boyes, chief foreign affairs commentator and diplomatic editor, The Times

‘Crisply and engagingly written, and with a sophisticated grasp of the economic issues at stake, The Europe Illusion adds much-needed historical depth to our current debate.’ – John Darwin, author of Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain (2013)

‘As the United Kingdom struggles to redefine itself and to determine its future relations with Europe and the wider world, Stuart Sweeney offers a timely reminder of how far this country’s fate has been tied to those of France and Germany. A thoughtful and measured contribution to the current Brexit debate.’ – Peter Wilson, Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford

‘This is the timely story of the relationship between Europe’s three great powers, Britain, France and Germany. Stuart Sweeney’s engaging narrative reaches back over 370 years to demonstrate how history taught each country different lessons and shaped different attitudes towards European integration. It is essential reading for those who wish to understand the risks in Britain standing alone.’ – Gavin Hewitt, BBC’s former Europe Editor

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Stuart Sweeney is a visiting academic at the Centre for European History, University of Oxford, and has taught at Oxford University and the Open University. His first book was Financing India’s Imperial Railways (2011). He lives in Surrey.