Now in paperback, a report from the front lines of the European culture war by an American living abroad that Victor Davis Hanson calls "a sensitive and sober portrait of an increasingly insensitive and reckless continent."
In 1999, Bruce Bawer moved to Amsterdam with his boyfriend and now lives in Oslo, where they are legally married. At first, Bawer - a literary critic and prominent conservative thinker - was delighted by the enlightened and tolerant atmosphere of Europe. Here was a society that not only welcomed gay men but where everyone read books and spoke multiple languages. How different from the US, where gay men were still being lynched and a theocratic minority was seeking to rewrite the constitution to ban homosexual unions.
Then came 9/11, and Bawer saw the other side of European liberalism. At first he was deeply grateful for the outpouring of sympathy and support that he received from European friends. But after the invasion of Afghanistan, and even more with the war in Iraq, he found himself embroiled in bitter arguments wherever he went about George W. Bush and the wages of American imperialism. In his travels around Europe he was shocked by the depth of anti-American sentiment, combined with a refusal to confront or even recognize the cancer of Islamic extremism in the heart of Europe itself. Even the murder of Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn and the horror of the Madrid bombing of March 2004 failed to wake the Europeans up. Finally the murder of Theo van Gogh, a provocative Dutch filmmaker, has galvanized that country to take steps to limit immigration and enhance assimilation efforts. But these steps may be too little, too late.
Will the liberal center hold in Europe? Will Europe's liberals be able to resist the encroachment of radical Islam without losing their liberal values? If not, Bawer foresees the rise of a resurgent right wing nationalism of a kind that has not been seen since the
1930s. The fate of Western civilization itself hangs in the balance.