Americans and Europeans--Dancing in the Dark: On Our Differences and Affinities, Our Interests, and Our Habits of Life

Publication Date: August 2007

Publisher: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Author(s): Dennis L. Bark

Research Area: Culture and religion; International relations; Social conditions

Keywords: American and European relations; self-government

Type: Book


The once rock-solid relationship between Europeans and Americans--based on common interests, shared values, trust, affection, and respect--is fading away, to be replaced by criticism and dissension. Why is this happening? And why does it matter? In Americans and Europeans--Dancing in the Dark, Dennis Bark offers an in-depth examination of the deteriorating relationship between America and Europe: our differences and affinities, the reasons behind our conflicts, and the future of our alliance.

Our differences, Bark reveals, are not of principle but of practice, shaped by our different histories. He focuses on what he calls the essential difference between us: America was built from the ground up, whereas Europe was built from the top down. That is, America was built by immigrants who eschewed the social, political, and economic practices they had always resented. Their purpose was to form their own government themselves, from the ground up. Europe, on the other hand, was built by those who enjoyed privilege and who had much to gain from participating in government rule from the top down. This difference, Bark shows, is profound because it marks our history, shapes our views of the world, and continues to affect how Europeans and Americans conduct their private and professional lives.

The European-American relationship, the author ultimately concludes, is unique and irreplaceable. To let it unravel would be unthinkable, and to let it come apart would have disastrous consequences for all of us.