Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order” as Want to Read:
Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  968 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
At a time when relations between the United States and Europe are at their lowest ebb since World War II, this brief but cogent book is essential reading. Robert Kagan, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, forces both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Europe, he argues, has moved beyond power into a self-contained world of laws, rules, and neg ...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Of Paradise and Power, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Of Paradise and Power

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 19, 2012 Dr. rated it did not like it
This is a neo-conservative text through and through (I mean actually neo-conservative, not just throwing the term around.) It is well written and many of the points made can't be argued, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth by the end. Kagan seems to think that the U.S. not only should, but is perfectly able to project military power anywhere at anytime and alone if necessary. It's hard not to get the feeling that he doesn't consider a diplomatic victory or a political one a possibility. ...more
My Pseudonym
May 22, 2010 My Pseudonym rated it did not like it
A book basically comparing the size of America's dong to Europe's by a neocon crusader steeped in the blood of the Iraqi people.
Sep 20, 2014 Eivind rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm not giving a star-rating for this one. You see, I'd need to give it two distinct ones for my review to make any sense.

Is this a fair and balanced account of the differences between America and Europe when it comes to foreign policy ? No. Not even close. It's a book-length defence of Americas policy and a book-length critique of everything the author perceives as wrong with Europe, and when it comes down to it, the entire book can be summarized as "Europe should double it's military budget, a
Ahmed Abdelhamid
Jun 30, 2012 Ahmed Abdelhamid rated it really liked it
Shelves: wish-list
Very Realistic, worth reading & Discussion.

الكتاب يطرح شكل العلاقة بين أمريكا و أوروبا، و أوروبا و ذاتها و تعريف "الغرب" الليبرالي إجمالا.. إن وجد.
و يطرح جدليات صادمة في معظم الأحيان نحو نزعة امريكا نحو القوة، و مرحلة ما بعد الحضارة التي تعيشها أوروبا.
يتطرق سريعا لجذور بدايات الصراع في الغرب. من العدوان الثلاثي على مصر بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، ثم فرض هيمنة امريكا على الغرب، ثم الهيمنة الكالمة بعد الحرب الباردة أوئال التسعينات، ثم مرحلة تصرف امريكا بأحادية بغض النظر عن الأمم المتحدة و حفاؤ
Sep 17, 2014 Judith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think it's not too much to say that this book revolutionized my understanding of the meta level of foreign policy, especially as it concerns the EU, the USA and their partnership. It explains very well the thinking among an influential group of American policymakers. A must read!
Joseph Stieb
Dec 02, 2014 Joseph Stieb rated it it was amazing
Robert Kagan's brilliant and concise book analyze the differences between how the US and Europe have come to see international politics. He was writing during 2002 and 2003 in the midst of a transatlantic dispute over the Iraq War. Kagan contends that this dispute was not just about Iraq, but that it reflected deeper political and philosophical differences that mostly relate to power. He contends that the disparity of power and different views of power are at the heart of the increasing divergen ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: governance
Robert Kagan's famous essay is a thoughtful, thorough and, at times, incendiary exploration of the strains currently existing among the countries that compose the West. The author brings these tensions to light by drawing out the distinct philosophical disparities between Europe's steadfast aim toward a negotiated "paradise" of perpetual peace and America's conviction of the continuing necessity for (and use of) military "power." How can these perspectives coalesce into a unified approach to for ...more
Feb 26, 2014 Joe rated it it was ok
This book gets two stars over one because it was easy to read, quick, and it does a good job of explaining the view points of a certain group of people. Unfortunately, that group of people often include key decision makers in the USG.
Kagan’s argument, in Of Paradise and Power, can be summarized in saying that the interests and inclinations of America and Europe have diverged. Europe prefers to avoid the use of force, due to their inherent weakness, while the United States is inclined to use forc
Feb 28, 2008 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
A hought-provoking quick read.

I thought this was a really interesting book at the time that I read it; it speculates that the reason that Europe is so much less warlike and more socialist than the USA is that they don't spend ANY money on defense any more (knowing that the USA is spending a fortune). They know the USA will protect them if the shit really hits the fan, so they have been able to spend their entire budgets on other things since WWII; Kagan's implication is that Europe is a little n
John-paul Pagano
Sep 19, 2007 John-paul Pagano rated it it was ok
Another sacred text of modern neoconservatism, this one merits the derision it has attracted. It's not terrible or completely off-base, and it's short, but it's the type of book that interested social scientists, in addition to Europeans and left-of-center folks, will hate, because it leverages history, politics and culture to render a cottage psychoanalysis of Europeans that is by equal terms sweeping and unsupported by data.
Scriptor Ignotus
Published in 2003, as the United States went into Iraq without the approval of the likes of France and Germany, Kagan argued in this short book that America and Europe were on fundamentally different courses, both strategically and ideologically, and that the end of the Cold War and the rise of the European Union have made longstanding cultural and political differences between the two powers all the more salient.

Some of the points contained herein:

1.) Europe sees itself inhabiting a Kantian wo
Aug 02, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kagan's arguments are clear, easy to read and hard to often hard to argue with - Europe can afford to be from Venus, enjoying as they have US military protection through NATO and massive Cold War spending, and he argues that as Europe's special skills lay in the areas of multilateral Kantian idealism, that of course this effects their determination to see 'issues' to be addressed where the US sees 'threats' to be overcome through power. Kagan is also good in pointing out the intellectual failing ...more
May 12, 2014 Vheissu rated it really liked it
Kagan's book is a spot-on realist assessment of U.S.-European relations at the beginning of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Militarily impotent Europe could afford to be idealistic about the rule of international law as long as an overbearing hegemon, the United States, kept the bad guys at bay. As a prediction of U.S.-European relations, however, Kagan's book demonstrates the limitations of realist theory and its usefulness as a predictor of state behavior.

Simply put, the
Mar 21, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it
I found this book strangely interesting, albeit slightly biased and wordy at times.

The relationship between the US and Europe is something that can only be understood by looking at the history between the two; something Kagan does relatively well. Europe, with the help of a powerful America, has been able to develop into the "paradise" while America remains the "power" that some (including Kagan) would say enables Europe to grow and solidify.

It basically seems to me like a catch-22 for America.
Nov 03, 2011 trav rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always gratifying to read a book that you agree 100% with. This essay on US transatlantic relationships and policy making is right on the money. Kagan pulls no punches in this one and his simple fact-of-the-matter rationale is hard to argue with and clear cut.

But just because he calls out Europe for exactly what they have been and are, he does it without getting nasty and schoolyardish about it. Which is refreshing in these times of O-Reilly and Heraldo.

Kagan acurately outlines why US forei
Dec 06, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, politics
An absolutely amazing analysis of U.S.-European relations that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2003. Although short, that doesn't stop Kagan from delivering a deep and insightful look into the different ways the U.S. and Europe perceive their roles in the world, the means by which they wish to achieve their objectives, and how they both try to achieve those objectives, with the obvious frictions that it has caused between the two powers. He also clearly shows how t ...more
Oct 03, 2007 Kanya rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because it was recommended by YWAM's strategic director, whom I met two years ago. This book made me realize how much weight and influence AMERICA can have politically and religiously in the world. Being here for so long and being attracted to European views of things, I think I forgot to take heed of all the resources we have and how we CAN choose to use them. Though we have been such the bad guy in international realms lately, this book made me have even higher hopes for ...more
Bill Sleeman
Jan 28, 2017 Bill Sleeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always Kagen is thought-provoking and challenging. This short essay proposes that Europe has moved beyond (or perhaps, at least, away from…) America in their reaction to power and diplomacy and the application of both for international problem solving. I wonder though, since this book dates from the George W. Bush years, how he might square his understanding of Europe now with the ideas proposed in this book? Is Europe really ready - and willing- to stand on its own (ala’ Briexit and a genera ...more
Dec 18, 2009 Vivek rated it liked it
This book does a good job explaining some of the tensions between the United States and Europe, and seems especially relevant after the American invasion of Iraq. Kagan explains that the current split between the US and Europe stems from America's role as the sole superpower (along with the ability to act unilaterally for its own interests when necessary) and the European desire to exercise some control over that power. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding transatla ...more
Jan 21, 2011 Tiina rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting, though simplified. In such a short text simplifying is necessary. Now I want to read more on the subject. This is an interesting introduction, with some bias, and I'll balance it with other stuff. It's also interesting to read opinions from almost 10 years ago and realize how much has changed and how things did not turn out the way people thought. America is still in Iraq, the country's politics are crazier than ever, there was the recession, EU is ... I don't know what we're doing, ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Frank rated it it was amazing
One entry stands out as particularly pithy and memorable (paraphrasing):

America is often regarded as a gunslinging sheriff in a western. This comparison holds water and is complemented by the Europeans in the role of the barkeeper. The barkeeper's got his life savings invested in the bar and knows that soon as the shooting starts he'll lose everything. The barkeeper doesn't much like the bad guy either, but he doesn't see anything to do but put up with him. After all, for the moment all the bad
Mar 03, 2014 Adrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite blunt, it talks of IR structures as of early evolution stage humans, where every action is justified by a 'natural' impulse, and power is the only currency in the primitive arena. However,even if it doesn't solve anything, it brings good questions, questions that have not yet been answered by a universal theory. I enjoyed it even though it was biased. I think it is important to listen to both parts before jumping to conclusions
David Rice
Oct 28, 2015 David Rice rated it really liked it
Very insightful book that helps describe why Europe and the United States has traditionally engaged in foreign policy and conflict with different agendas. It makes a convincing case that we are inherently misaligned with Europe as long as we protect them. It was particularly interesting to read during the Obama administration, given that it was written during the Bush era. Much of what is happening now was evident from reading the book.
Raj Agrawal
Jun 11, 2014 Raj Agrawal rated it really liked it
Realist perspective on the comparison of US and UK in international politics. In peacetime, the UK's use of institutions can substitute for lack of military strength, especially as leverage against the US ("a behemoth with a conscience"). During war, military strength equals influence -- and only the US can effectively project power anywhere in the world...even in the UK's own backyard.

Without American military power, Europe can't have its idealism; without Hobbes, Kant can't survive.
Charles Blumberg
Short book, quick read (100 pages), gives insight into how the US and Europe view the world in relating with it: Americans from the beginning believe in advancing our interests, advance the interests of humanity. While Europe view negotiation and economics as the way to relate to the world, we should consider it a blessing that the continent is free of war and has no interest in spending money on defense.
Catherine Teh 陳婉然
Feb 23, 2013 Catherine Teh 陳婉然 rated it really liked it
Made me understand more about the US & European perspectives and their rule within and across the globe. Politics --- Not my cup of tea though.... But worth reading.
"It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world"
Feb 19, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, non
"Explains why European and American international viewpoints are diverging so significantly, which is especially topical as I write this on the eve of the second Gulf War. A pacifist and militarily weak Europe looks to multilateral rules while a strong America looks to enforce its will in dangerous situations. Short, clear and persuasive."
Apr 20, 2015 J. rated it did not like it
Simplified, uninspired, neocon proselytizing. The whole thing reads like a propaganda pamphlet. But one expects nothing less of Victoria Nuland's husband. This piece of garbage was assigned for one of the politics courses where I was a teaching fellow. Unbelievable that people still believe this stuff.
Feb 12, 2009 Nancy rated it it was ok
This was a tough read for me. I could only absorb ten pages at a time. Although the author seemed to constantly repeat himself and I wanted to say “I get it,” it was difficult for me because there’s so much about history and world politics I don’t understand and have no reference in which to balance this information.
Mar 10, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: interest
This deceptively brief book explains succinctly why America's foreign policy is so expeditionary (involved in the affairs of other nations) and why that isn't the horrible thing for the world some people and governments make it out to be. For anyone who questions America's role on the planet economically, politically, militarily, or philosophically, this book is a must-read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order
  • America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
  • Terror and Liberalism
  • A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia
  • War and Change in World Politics
  • The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror
  • Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Requires a Pagan Ethos
  • The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
  • Surprise, Security, and the American Experience
  • The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone
  • Children on the Oregon Trail
  • Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam
  • The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century
  • War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars
  • The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
  • The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America
  • Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero
  • The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics
Robert Kagan is an American historian and foreign policy commentator. Robert Kagan is the son of Yale classical historian and author, Donald Kagan. He is married to Victoria Nuland, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and has two children. He is the brother of political commentator Frederick Kagan.

Kagan is a columnist for the Washington Post and is syndicated by the New York Times Syndicate. He is
More about Robert Kagan...

Share This Book