This is an excellent starting place for anyone wishing to understand how the European Union has developed over time—and to reflect upon how this development might shape its present and future. Mark Gilbert’s thoughtful analysis is well rooted in the history and political science literature about the integration process but also demonstrates his ability to stand back from the day-to-day controversies about the EU and look at its evolution in fair-minded fashion.
There is nothing inevitable about European integration. And past achievements can easily lead to complacency and even hubris. These are just two of this book’s important findings. Balanced in its arguments and highly readable, European Integration: A Political History provides the most updated narrative general history on this highly topical issue.— Kiran Klaus Patel, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
This is political history at its best. Mark Gilbert tells the improbable story of Europe’s integration with energy, erudition and verve, underlining how the nations of Europe have been able to work together without dissolving themselves into a full-blown, US-style federation. He shows a keen eye for the dynamic interplay of world-historical events, institutions, and political personalities―from early Cold War tussles between Washington and Paris to Brexit battles between London, Berlin, and Brussels. Preferring the subtle techniques of the historical portraitist to the reductionist tools of the theorist, Gilbert sprinkles the pages with telling quotes and sound political judgments. Between those who cannot see for united Europe but a preordained path to success and those who keep predicting its unavoidable failure, he brilliantly shows us that the past was full of surprises. This stark reminder should also inform the thinking about Europe’s future, as its nations severally and jointly search their way in a new era of great-power rivalry.