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Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy
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Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  32 reviews
What if politicians pose a graver threat to liberal democracy than mass migration?

Brexit and Donald Trump's victory were just the beginning -- and Marine Le Pen's defeat does not signal a turning of the tide. From the Introduction

From Europe to the United States, opportunistic politicians have exploited the economic crisis, terrorist attacks, and an unprecedented influx
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Bold Type Books
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Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018
This a very sobering look at the trajectory of contemporary politics in the Western world. The author gets remarkable access to some of the top figures of the resurgent far-right in Europe, while drawing the outlines of the migration crisis that is putting already shaky Western democracies on the brink of returning to their disastrous recent pasts. This book is very refreshing in that it doesn't cater to anyones pieties. The far-right is predictably critiqued for both its moral and political fai ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, arc
This book was provided to me by NetGalley and Nation Books. All opinions are my own. Pub Date 17 Oct 2017.

The author has put forward a well researched book about the populist trend in Western Democracies especially in the light of the refugee crises in Europe in 2015/16 and has analyzed how this impacted the national elections up to the French presidential election earlier this year. It would have been easy for the author to just pick sides and tell the left/right what they are doing wrong, but
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was pretty amazing. If you're super liberal and refuse to see or recognize the opinions of others, it might not always tickle your fancy. Same goes for those who are super right wing and won't see any sense in left wing arguments. I loved that the author, while clearly against populism, brought attention to sides of xenophobia that are usually overlooked or denied in America (for instance, there is a chapter on how native black residents of South Africa are also often violent ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books of social analysis I have read in a long time, and also one of the most disturbing. The author focuses on how the refugee crisis in Europe has given support to the rise of far right and nationalistic political movements, pulling the left and center rightward and in the process endangered liberal democracy. He also deals with the rise of Trumpism in America which he sees springing from the same anxiety that a white Christian culture is threatened. His research is dee ...more
Joel W.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for thoughtful people who want to understand the historical, social, and political dimensions of the rise of nativist ideologies and political coalitions in the West. Polakow-Suransky presents a well-researched and compellingly-argued account that captures the evolution of far-right, anti-immigrant ideas from mere sentiment to central issues of populist political platforms such as those of Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, and Marine Le Pen. Anyone seeking genuine understanding of the glo ...more
Anna Carr
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That time when you want to thank the author for his work. I really loved this book, the language and the stories. The main thing for me is that the author managed to stay refreshingly unbiased and non-judgemental dealing with the sensitive topic of migration and refugeedom.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just fantastic! A book with such analysis has been needed for a while. If you ever wondered why so many liberal democracies are swaying towards a so-called "new far right", this is a book for you. As a professional working in the field of refugee protection, this book has been very useful as it helps one understand the reasons behind why refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants have recently become scapegoats in recent political landscapes of France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and in the US. ...more
Allison Meakem
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Where was this when I was writing my thesis???? Sasha's book is a great overview of the backlash against immigration (mostly in the context of Muslims in post-9/11 Europe) - and I'm not just saying that because he's my workplace superior. "Go Back to Where You Came From" and its core argument also fit very nicely as a straight-talking follow-up to all of the Jonathan Coe I've been reading.

What differentiates this book from the excess of literature spawned by Brexit and Trump that seeks to expla
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful discussion on the anti-immigration movements of Europe and elsewhere in the western world, focusing largely but not exclusively on Western Europe but also touching on Australia and South Africa, and only tangentially on the United States. Regrettably the author doesn’t discuss Poland or Hungary, where the anti-immigrant movement is wrapped up in a homegrown authoritarian politics, but this does an impressive job outlining the economic and moreso the cultural basis of the fervor dire ...more
Lokesh Joshi
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
/As a student for studying political thinking and how events take place on point of immigration and integration, the author provides us with a wide-open window to look and understand how it works and in past had worked.
The author starts with why the world is having Islamophobia, and how all this started only after 9/11, how different right-wing parties of western Europe is changing their thinking to avoid any of Muslim immigrants, and not only right-wing but lefties also turned their understandi
Peter Rooijmans
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well researched book about the rise of populism and its relation with immigration. Mainly in Europe, but a chapter is also devoted to South Africa, where strikingly a very comparable situation exists due to immigration from other African countries.
The populists have been able to strike a chord with a wide swath of voters, because the absence of a political debate about main concerns of the working population by the major parties, which have been focusing on a neo-liberalist worldview. Neverthe
Geoffrey Kelley
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The waves of immigration and refugee claimants have shaken Western European democracies and have altered many of the Left vs Right political alliances. In this book, Sasha Polakow-Suransky focuses on Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Germany, where he conducted many interviews with politicians and polemicists on the issues of immigration, integration, tolerance, and (always lurking in shadows) Islamaphobia. There are references to the UK and Brexit, as well as the USA and the Trump victory, a ...more
Andre Masnari
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
The idea that Europe is committing suicide because of the influx of migrants has gained traction of late, especially on the right but increasingly on the left too. Suransky's argument that Europe may indeed be doing so, but doing so because the failure to develop a comprehensive plan for how to address the migrant crisis is leading to the rise of illiberal far right parties (AFD, Front Nacional, etc.) is compelling. Unfortunately the book is fantastic at diagnosing the problem but less so in off ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, politics
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I wish that this book was just hyperbole and extremism at its worst, but it is not. This is an excellent, and thorough examination of how our current political climate has came to be. Issues we are facing her in the United States are also prevalent across the globe. The process from which this current political climate was created has been brewing for some time, and at this present trajectory, this ascension will not s
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this from Netgalley for the purpose of my honest and unbiased opinion.

I had high hopes for this book, but whether it was my expectations differing from the actual content of the book, or something else, we just didn't gel. I was hoping there'd be more proper interviews, oral history type reporting, but a lot of it was more dry analysis and academic history. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it wasn't that accessible for me, coming from a non academic background in ter
Sonja P.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-favorites
This is so dense because it is so well-researched and also a wider view of immigration views in Western culture, aka not just in the good ole USA. In fact, the us gets mention briefly as a reference, but this is not as concerned with that. Instead, it delves more into how these ideologies slowly developed, where these thoughts came from, and what is really behind them. It can be scary and frustrating, but this knowledge is so so necessary, and he talks to so many people so he can get their own w ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very sobering read. If you want to try and grapple with the question of why people like Trump, Le Pen, and Geert Wilders have risen in power, read this book. It outlines the reasons for the rise of right-wing populism in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. If we hope to make things better in the near future we need to better understand these forces and how to confront them. Ignoring them, or just casting aspersion on them, is not a viable option.
Ryan Mishap
A desperately needed corrective and warning about how anti-immigrant organizing is changing the face of Europe more than the immigrants the new right fears. This is diligent, cogent research and analysis mainly concerned with the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Germany, but also looking at Australia, South Africa, and the U. S.

Highly recommended.
Laurie DeVecca
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and written. A thoughtful book on how the left wings of Western democracies are being twisted, in many cases, into unlikely stances due to the right's opportunistic adoption of working class issues that the left has, admittedly, neglected in recent years. A timely read that everyone who cares about healthy democracies should read.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A definite must-read to understand the political climate of rising populism and nativism/nationalism in the West today and the precarious situation that liberal democracy (which the author argues is not a foregone conclusion; illiberal democracy is a rising threat) finds itself in vis-à-vis these rising sentiments.
Moriah Lee
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: one-world
Creating the second class citizenship that makes up the immigrant population is the result of fear of dealing with one's own pain. Racism and bigotry are the results of a limitation on the mind, a manifestation of the worst of humanities traits. I highly recommend this book for its anecdotes especially.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A thought provoking read that describes in detail the development of modern xenophobia and how racists, white nationalists, and other like groups view the world. It is insightful and allows for a greater understanding of the issues that currently western, white majority countries face and what could be the impact of these isolationist policies
B. Cheng
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have been thinking about what to say about this book for awhile, a really interesting read about the refugee crisis and how those who've flooded into Europe are being accepted (or not) and the whys to the European feelings.
Matthew Trevithick
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
A look at the migration crisis facing Western Europe (and a few other places) and the strain that the responses are having on democracy as we know and love it.
Joe Schrock
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An important discussion not only about immigration but also about what values we have. He starts the discussion on how to live them out while discussing change and difficult issues.
Richard Bowman
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Contemporary and timely information on the US Struggles with Immigration, a flawed policy and peoples real lives.
Johnathon Prather
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had hoped to read more proposed solutions for Western Democratic societies in turning back the populist tide that has swept across Europe (and the US). How should our leaders respond? How should we respond?

However, the main focus of the author was to provide evidence that immigration backlash was indeed occurring… which seemed like an obvious point to make. I´m certain most of his readership agrees with that point, and felt like the two questions I mentioned in the first paragraph never really
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a HUGELY important book
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eye opener for people in western europe especially the netherlands and denmark could benefit from this. So if you are reading this review. Be prepared for a stretch in your perspective towards minorities.
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