Homelands: A Personal History of Europe (Paperback)

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Drawing on half a century of firsthand experience and exemplary scholarship, Timothy Garton Ash tells the story of postwar Europe’s triumphs and tragedies
Winner of the 2024 Lionel Gelber Prize • A Financial Times Best Book of 2023
“An irresistibly well-written book, fluent, witty, and intelligent.”—Neal Acherson, New York Review of Books

Timothy Garton Ash, Europe’s “historian of the present,” has been “breathing Europe” for the last half century. In Homelands he embarks on a journey in time and space around the postwar continent, drawing on his own notes from many great events, giving vivid firsthand accounts of its leading actors, revisiting the places where its history was made, and recalling its triumphs and tragedies through their imprint on the present.
Garton Ash offers an account of events as seen from the ground—history illustrated by memoir. He describes how Europe emerged from wartime devastation to rebuild, to triumph with the fall of the Berlin Wall, to democratize and unite. And then to falter. It is a singular history of a period of unprecedented progress along with a clear-eyed account of how so much went wrong, from the financial crisis of 2008 to the war in Ukraine. From the pen of someone who, in spite of Brexit, emphatically describes himself as an English European, this is both a tour d’horizon and a tour de force.

About the Author

Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at the University of Oxford and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His books include The Magic Lantern, his eyewitness account of the revolutions of 1989; The File: A Personal History, based on reading his own Stasi file; and History of the Present. He lives in Oxford, England.

Praise For…

“An irresistibly well-written book, fluent, witty, and intelligent.”—Neal Acherson, New York Review of Books

“This is not a potted history of the European Union—still less of Britain’s tortuous relationships with it. Instead, the book casts a panoramic eye over a far-flung continent of 850 million people, and heeds the word on the street in Pristina as much as in Paris. . . . [A] fair-minded but warm-hearted book.”—Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

“Told through Garton Ash’s personal reflections and his analyses of shifts in the political organization of the continent, this history explores the question of what it means to be European—if anything at all.”—New York Times Book Review

“Tremendously enjoyable. . . . Thoughtful, honest, open, self-deprecating.”—Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

A Financial Times Best Book of 2023

“Timothy Garton Ash has combined work in academia, journalism and political analysis for nearly half a century. . . . His new book is an insightful analysis of the transformation of central and eastern Europe in the decades between the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”—John Palmer, The Guardian

“At once accessible, engaging and erudite, Homelands is an extraordinary accomplishment, much like the author’s life; it is a heartfelt call to arms.”—Times Literary Supplement

Homelands is a trip down memory lane on a continental scale.”—The Economist

“From the ‘miracle’ of 1989 to the return of state thuggery, readers could hardly wish for a wiser guide to the continent’s triumphs and travails.”—Financial Times

“Garton Ash is a clear-headed chronicler of the Continent [and] Homelands is an engaging read.”—Irish Times

“Outstanding. . . . Homelands is an elegantly written piece of contemporary history by one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals.”—Richard Briand, The Spectator

“There are historians of Europe who remain detached from the messy realities of the continent’s present. And there are commentators who are immersed in that present but lack the historical knowledge to truly understand it. No figure better unites both disciplines than . . . Timothy Garton Ash. His history of the continent’s ‘overlapping timeframes of postwar and post-Wall’ is rich with originality and memoiristic details.”—Jeremy Cliffe, New Statesman

“[A] beautiful new book. . . . Homelands is a synthetic, personal retrospective . . . yet it is far more than a compendium of illustrative vignettes and well-told stories. . . . It provides essential analytical overviews of all the salient events of European unity and division.”—William Collins Donahue, Commonweal

“A fluent and authoritative account of Europe since the Second World War, punctuated by vivid personal vignettes . . . from a passionate pro-European.”—Literary Review

“An authoritative big picture well matched with revealing, important human details.”—The Tablet

“Insightful. . . . Garton Ash’s often compelling homage to a liberated and prosperous Europe is tinged with disquiet and disappointment.”—Kim Bielenberg, The Independent

Homelands is an illuminating and accessible work on a mammoth subject: Europe. . . . A stunning combination of memoir, reportage and history.”—Lucy Popescu, Camden New Journal

“Beautifully written and full of perceptive detail and personal observations. . . . In his astute reflections on the arc of European history since the Second World War through to the return of major war in Ukraine in 2022, Garton Ash does not let his aspirations for Europe obscure the enormous challenges it faces today.”—Hanns W. Maull, Survival

“Garton Ash cogently ties [his] personal experiences . . . to the sweeping changes that altered the continent’s political structure . . . : the creation of the European Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Brexit. . . . Scintillating.”—Publishers Weekly

“Is Europe a real entity or a mere wishful-thinking construct? This closely observed book explores both possibilities.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A series of . . . gemlike vignettes.”—Gustav Jönsson, Washington Examiner

“We know there are Germans, Italians, Spaniards and Poles—but are there Europeans? Yes, at least one: Timothy Garton Ash. Homelands is the brilliant, captivating story of how he became one.”—Mark Lilla, author of The Once and Future Liberal

“Garton Ash deftly combines scholarship, journalistic experience, and personal observations and stories in Homelands. He offers an intellectual’s history with a popular touch that is both delightful and thought-provoking.”—Robert B. Zoellick, author of America in the World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

“Garton Ash has carved out a unique niche as a ‘historian of the present.’ Homelands combines his eye-witness account of Europe’s evolution with his keen historical insight to offer an innovative and compelling book.”—Charles A. Kupchan, author of Isolationism

“The right book for Europe, at the right time. For a continent fascinated with its past, and yet indispensable for everyone’s future, this mix of memoir and reflection is the perfect book for the present. In beautiful language, Garton Ash gives us a sense of the Europe that was, and of one that might yet be.”—Timothy Snyder, author of The Road to Unfreedom
“A moving love letter to Europe, Homelands merges memoir, political analysis and social criticism to reflect on the future of a continent still haunted by its past. Friend of dissidents in former communist Europe, first-hand witness of high politics in the West, Garton Ash is unafraid to think about what the European project got wrong but also how it can redeem itself.”—Lea Ypi, author of Free
“This book, from a man who had a front-row seat to much of the history he describes, draws on his experiences and those of his friends to bring events to vivid life.”—M. E. Sarotte, author of Not One Inch

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300276725
ISBN-10: 0300276729
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English