In Europe's Name, by Timothy Garton Ash
Timothy Garton Ash is best known to American readers as the British journalist whose front-line reports on the personalities and events that gave birth to the Revolution of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe were the finest materials on the subject available in English. Those who delighted in Garton Ash’s previous work may be in for something of a shock, though, when they start their way through In Europe’s Name. For here we meet Garton Ash the Oxford don and fellow of St. Antony’s College; and if the writing continues to be mellifluous, the pace, the cautious probity of the analysis, and the seemingly unbridled passion for academic detail (In Europe’s Name contains 240 pages of scholarly apparatus) make for a very different kind of read.
But then so, too, does the subject matter. For in painstakingly dissecting the ends, means, accomplishments, and failures of West German policy toward the old Soviet bloc (Ostpolitik), Garton Ash has left the world of easily identifiable Good Guys and Bad Guys—the setting for his previous works on Solidarity and on the human-rights movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the late East Germany—and entered the far murkier, chiaroscuro world of diplomacy during the last twenty years or so of the cold war. If the resulting historical autopsy is not so edifying as Garton Ash’s earlier evocations of the anti-Communist resistance in Mitteleuropa, it is nonetheless fascinating for what it suggests not only about the past, but about the future of Germany and “Europe.”
About the Author
George Weigel is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and the author most recently of God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (HarperCollins).