Timothy Garton Ash believes that "If we are free, we can work with other free people toward a free world." He understands that freedom means different things to different people and that democracy is not an end in itself. Instead, it is "a means to higher ends," ends about which people may disagree. Such an ambitious goal requires the right combination of realism and idealism. Garton Ash is not an out-of-touch thinker. He is Director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. As a historian and writer he is probably best known for his reporting from Eastern Europe and his writings about the fall of Communist regimes in Poland and Czechoslovakia. In Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, Ash astutely analyzes foreign policy strategies and decisions by the U.S. and Great Britain and various European nations. Despite America's recent differences with France and Germany, Garton Ash emphasizes that the U.S. and the European Union do agree on basic issues. He considers it folly for E.U. countries to attempt to become superpowers; instead arguing that it is in the world's best interest to "bring Europe and America as close together as possible. . . . [T]he human race has no chance of making a free world without the combined efforts of its two largest conglomerates of the rich and free." He even considers Britain and France giving up their individual seats in the U.N. Security Council in favor of a single E.U. seat.
Garton Ash draws on an impressive variety of sources, including history, conversations with world leaders and his own observations from years of work in Europe and the U.S. He is keenly aware that for the first time in history the world has the resources to seriously address world deprivation. The disappearance of natural resources and the environment is our biggest challenge, Garton Ash argues. But freedom is an essential key for people to work together to attack these problems.
Garton Ash believes that political leaders do not have all of the answers ("It is vital that we all appreciate this simple truth about our rulers: half the time they really don't know what they're doing") and he advocates strong citizen action. His passion for and authoritative command of his subject make this a stimulating and inspiring book.