The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike

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Oxford University Press, Nov 5, 2009 - Social Science - 336 pages
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There is much heated rhetoric about the widening gulf between Europe and America. But are the US and Europe so different? Peter Baldwin, one of the world's leading historians of comparative social policy, thinks not, and in this bracingly argued but remarkably informed polemic, he lays out how similar the two continents really are. Drawing on the latest evidence from sources such as the United Nations, the World Bank, IMF, and other international organizations, Baldwin offers a fascinating comparison of the United States and Europe, looking at the latest statistics on the economy, crime, health care, education and culture, religion, the environment, and much more. It is a book filled with surprising revelations. For most categories of crime, for instance, America is safe and peaceful by European standards. But the biggest surprise is that, though there are many differences between America and Europe, in almost all cases, these differences are no greater than the differences among European nations. Europe and the US are, in fact, part of a common, big-tent grouping. America is not Sweden, for sure. But nor is Italy Sweden, nor France, nor even Germany. And who says that Sweden is Europe? Anymore than Vermont is America? "Meticulous, insistent, and elegant." --John Lloyd, Financial Times "A must-read...filled with intriguing facts that add nuance to what can often be a black-and-white debate." --Foreign Affairs "An exhaustive and enthralling catalogue of our commonalities that begs a reconsideration of just what it means to be European or American." --Publishers Weekly
  

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A comparative study of the similarities between the United States and the European Union. It turns out that when the statistics are analysed, the differences between the US and EU are no larger than ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
The Economy
15
Health Care
40
The Rest of the Welfare State
60
Crime
74
More Broadly
91
Education and the Higher Pursuits
97
The Environment
122
Lumping and Splitting
183
A Meeting of the Twain?
204
Separated at Birth?
216
The Post Facto State
227
How the West Was One
236
Acorn and Oak
243
A Note on Sources
251
Notes
253

Civil Society
148
Nationalism
160
Religion and Science
163
Assimilation
176
Figure Sources
285
Index
311
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Peter Baldwin is Professor of History at the University of California-Los Angeles. He is the author of Disease and Democracy: The Industrialized World Faces AIDS, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930, and The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975.

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