Eastern Question, Western AnswerIssue: Winter 1993-1994
William Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations: Civilization and the Fury of Nationalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), 256 pp., $21.50
William Pfaff is an American who has lived for years in France, regularly writing for the New Yorker and the International Herald Tribune and periodically publishing books that provide perceptive and sophisticated interpretations of the large issues of the day in international affairs. His new book, The Wrath of Nations, is probably his best. It is also the one that most conveys the sensibility and understanding of a European.
Pfaff's observations on nationalism will seem original to many Americans, but conventional, almost commonplace, to Europeans. Likewise, his critiques of the American version of nationalism and of liberal internationalism will offend many Americans, but Europeans will find them sensible and realistic. Some Americans may think that they need not learn anything from a European perspective. After all, Europe has hardly been distinguished by its wisdom in international affairs in this century. But since the problem of nationalism is once again a European one, and the way European think about it is once again an important reality, an American will be wiser after reading this book.