Luuk van Middelaar is a political theorist and historian. The author of the prizewinning book The Passage to Europe, he just published De nieuwe politiek van Europa, a groundbreaking account of the Union’s new politics.

Book reviews

“Scherpzinnige gids in de Brusselse jungle”
DE VOLKSKRANT, HANS WANSINK, 11 Nov 2017
Van Middelaar is een goede gids door de Brusselse jungle

“Europa ondergaat aan radicale transformatie: wie wil begrijpen waarom dit gebeurt en welke gevolgen het heeft, moet het nieuwe boek van Luuk van Middelaar lezen.”
NRC HANDELSBLAD, CAROLINE DE GRUYTER, 1 dec. 2017
De EU behoeft meer oppositie en energie

“Luuk van Middelaar maakt de Europese Unie leesbaar. Messianistische visioenen of onheilspellende doembeelden zitten hem daarbij niet in de weg.”
KNACK, PETER CASTEELS, 18 Oct 2017
Europa. Een nieuwe politiek, voor wie het wil zien

“Consistent, helder en beeldend; voortbouwend op zijn dissertatie De passage naar Europa en gebruik makend van kennis en inzichten opgedaan in de Brusselse keuken.”
CLINGENDAEL SPECTATOR, JAN ROOD, Nov 2017
Een insidersblik op de nieuwe politiek van Europa

“Terwijl veel Europaboeken saai en stug zijn, bevat dit talloze spannende passages, een coherente visie en originele invalshoeken. En vooral, het is ontiegelijk inspirerend en rijk aan ideeën in vergelijking met de talloze schrille en schrale anti-Europapamfletten die de markt overspoelen.”
LIBER, LEO DE HAES, 1 Nov 2017.
De nieuwe politiek van Europa

Academic reviews

Book reviews

“It is a discerning, balanced, gracefully written book, flavoured with the insights of political science but filled with the meat of European Union history over six decades.”
Financial Times, Tony Barber, 18 May 2013
Berlin or bust

“It has much to teach those who want to understand the EU’s recent political dynamic.”
The Economist, 25 May 2013
After the darkest hour

“Philosophically informed and historically sensitive … original, subtle and refreshing”
Times Literary Supplement, Larry Siedentop, 29 November 2013
Between spheres

“An intriguing presentation of views seldom reported so readably and in such depth, offering a fresh new perspective to American readers.”
Kirkus Reviews, 15 June 2013
The passage to europe

“Supremely erudite account of Europe’s transformation. (..) [The author’s] encyclopedic knowledge of and intimacy with European affairs will make even a specialist blush with envy.”
Publishers Weekly, 26 August 2013

“Reading this book is to enjoy a synergy both of this history, the politics and the history of ideas that have brought a hugely improbable project to life and sustained it through succeeding crises. This is an academic study that is clearly written and accessible.”
Irish Examiner, Gerard Howlin, 18 May 2013
Were still trying to make europe add up

“Luuk van Middelaar has written by far the best, accessible, thoughtful account of Europe as was and is and as he hopes will be that we have seen in years.”
Tribune, Denis MacShane, 31 May 2013
Balkanising Europe is not the answer

“Beautifully written. (..) His aphoristic, provocative but always entertaining analysis is richly garnered with metaphors and illustrative anecdotes that make what could have been a dry read a colourful pleasure.”
Literary Review, Martin Westlake, July 2013
Ever closer

“The book is intellectually rich and politically balanced, its narrative smooth and engaging, its arguments original and sophisticated.”
International Affairs, Jan Zielonka, November 2013
Europe

“A superb, eloquent study; a gripping narrative of personalities and events that reads like a Bildungsroman.”
The Vienna Review, Allan Janik, 18 December 2013
The passage to Europe

“Like all great novels, the Passage to Europe tells us something about our (European) condition.”
LSE Blog, Renaud Thillaye, 23 June 2013
The passage to Europe

“Un travail passionnant et impressionnant. Tel un archéologue, l’auteur fouille dans les discours européens les plus usés, les faits établis et les mentalités bien ancrées à la recherche des stratégies et des rapports de forces politiques. Il bluffait, mais il a tenu parole. Il rédige sa nouvelle version de l’histoire et le résultat est un ouvrage magistral.”
Le Soir, Paul Goossens, 7 December 2012
A la recherche du politique

“C’est ce ton distant mais passionné par ce que l’auteur découvre qui tient le lecteur concentré sur près de 500 pages, dont est proscrit tout jargon universitaire ou bruxellois.”
La Croix, Sébastien Maillard, 12 April 2012
L’Europe politique en gestation

“Une somme de réflexions originales propres à forcer l’impasse agaçante de nos perceptions désillusionnées. (..) L’attitude des gouvernements dans la crise actuelle corrobore l’analyse de van Middelaar: le ‘passage à l’Europe’ a bien eu lieu, mais pas là où on l’attendait.”
Joëlle Kunz, Le Temps, 4 February 2012
Le passage à l’Europe

“Tous les poncifs des manuels reprennent fraîcheur et chair sous la plume alerte et l’humour quasi-voltairien de Luuk van Middelaar, qui transforme en autant de tragi-comédies captivantes les épisodes les plus austères de la construction européenne.”
Christophe de Voogd, Nonfiction.fr
Lumière hollandaise sur l’Europe!

“Il y a des livres devant lesquels, faute de temps, d’espace et surtout de recul, le chroniqueur se trouve réduit à une seule forme de commentaire : l’effet d’annonce. L’évènement est tel que l’essentiel est d’instiguer le public à y aller voir lui-même toutes affaires cessantes, parce qu’on se trouve devant un ouvrage qui provoque un avant et un après sa parution. La même attitude s’est imposée à moi, il y a, plus de vingt ans, lors de la parution du Nom de la Rose.”
Jacques De Decker, Espace-Livres.be, 30 January 2012
Hourrah pour l’Europe

“Le Passage à l’Europe est un ouvrage passionnant. Histoire, philosophie – des auteurs antiques à Tocqueville et Montesquieu en passant par Machiavel – littérature, musique, droit constitutionnel, droit communautaire, sociologie… tous les champs de la connaissance humaine et de la culture sont convoqués dans des tours d’horizons riches et foisonnants.”
La Revue Socialiste, Matthias Fekl, February 2013
Faire comprendre l’Europe

“Für alle, die glauben, über die Geschichte und die Triebkräfte der europäischen Einigung schon alles zu wissen. Originell, historisch wie philosophisch tiefschürfend und mit einem Optimismus, dem man sich nur schwer entziehen kann.”
Thomas Bagger, Internationale Politik, Nov.-Dec. 2015
Pflichtlektüren

“Eine elegant geschriebenen Darstellung, die den üblichen EU-Jargon vermeidet.”
Almut Möller, Internationale Politik, May-June 2014
Europa für Krisengeschädigte

“Das Buch ist all Denjenigen zu empfehlen, die einer breiten, gleichwohl aber analytisch anspruchsvollen Versicherung der europäischen Idee bedürfen.”
J.J. Hesse, Zeitschrift für Staats- und Europawissenschaften, 2013 / n° 3
Kommentierte Buchanzeigen

Luuk van Middelaar ist ein herausragendes Buch gelungen, an dem niemand vorbeikommt, der die Essenz des Europäischen verstehen will.
Thomas Kirchner, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 Okt. 2017
Das grosse Ganze jenseits von Brüssel

Luuk van Middelaar bietet keine praktischen Lösungen an. Aber er tut etwas viel Wichtigeres: Er schlägt eine Schneise in den europäischen Gedankenwirrwarr.
Martin Winter, Deutschlandfunk 30 Jan. 2017
Nationale und europäische Interessen in Einklang bringen

Wie steht es um das Verhältnis zwischen dem politischen Europa und der Öffentlichkeit? Ist die Union dafür gerüstet, auf große Erschütterungen zu reagieren? Wer übernimmt in Zeiten der Unsicherheit die Führung? … Ausgehend von diesen Fragen, dringt van Middelaar in seinem erhellenden Streifzug durch die europäische Einigungsgeschichte zu grundlegenden Problemen des heutigen Europa vor.
Thomas Speckmann, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 8 März 2017
Vom Krisenkontinent zur Krisenunion

Die Analysen sind lesens- und bedenkenswert … Dem Autor gelingt es vortrefflich, viele scheinbar höchst komplexe Probleme auf einen einfachen Punkt zu bringen.
Jürgen Elvert, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 6 März 2017
Im Tunnel mag es dunkel sein, Integrationsprozess in Europa.

“Luuk van Middelaar kan niet genoeg geprezen worden voor het schrijven van een boek over Europa dat van a tot z boeit, vrij is van ieder technocratisch jargon en prikkelt tot nadenken over de (on)mogelijkheden van Europese politiek.”
Anet Bleich, de Volkskrant, 29 May 2009
Europa op zoek naar haar publiek

“Een nieuw en overtuigend vergezicht op de sterke en zwakke kanten van het Europese project”
NRC Handelsblad, Ronald Havenaar, 22 May 2009
Dromen van gezamenlijkheid

“El libro que el autor nos ofrece deja prueba agradable pero indeleble de sus lecturas en el ámbito de la cultura clásica y de la filosofía. Unas condiciones que le permiten el análisis lúcido de la situación.”
Miguel Ángel Aguilar, Cinco Días, 29 November 2013
Por Europa y las libertades

“Õigusriik on sama palju Euroopa idee keskmes kui demokraatia, representatsioon ja ühine tahe. Euroopa õigusriigi (ning uusaegse moraali) juured ulatuvad Kantini, kellest peale peab Euroopa end mõõtma universaalse mõõdupuuga, mis ei talu suva ega erandeid. Me võime olla liikmesriigina liiga noor „paksuks” solidaarsuseks, aga kõik me oleme Eesti kodanikena ka Euroopa Liidu kodanikud. Ning juba aastal 1963 sätestas Euroopa Kohus, et „üksikisiku ja Euroopa vahel on otseside” (juhtum van Gend & Loos). Siin on solidaarsus, mida üks ELi kodanik ei saa teisele keelata, ilma et annaks ära ka osa omaenda eurooplusest. Ja see on meie suurim lootus.”
Ahto Lobjakas, Sirp, June 2014
Euroopa solidaarsus

“Å lese Middelaar si bok kunne vere ein passande start for ei norsk nytenking om Europa og EU”
Minerva nett, Henrik Kvadsheim, 5 December 2014
Korleis Europa blei til ein union

Academic reviews

“Its message is particularly suited to the political as well as legal conditions of our time.” In the venerable Common Market Law Review, reviewers Loïc Azoulai and Edwina Jaeger (Florence) describe The Passage as a “compelling” new account of the Union’s history and as “probably the most comprehensive effort to expose the fallacies involved in the classic effort to conceptualise Europe as a supranational phenomenon”. They also underline its wider significance for EU law, as a wake-up call for the field: “The book signals a shift in the foundation of the Union’s power and, subsequently, in the structure of the European legal argument. (…) Responding with classic ‘EU law’ arguments that the current developments lack legal basis and legitimacy is certainly insufficient.” The same issue’s penetrating editorial on ‘Union membership in times of crisis’ develops the point.
Common Market Law Review, 51 (2014), pp. 311-313 (review) and pp. 1-12 (editorial).

“Whereas the grey zone between states and Brussels remained a black hole of the analysis, here it becomes the central issue (…), an analysis of the lynch-pin, crucial to an understanding of the edifice.” In a long, perceptive critique in the French review Politique européenne, political scientist Michel Mangenot (Strasbourg) highlights Le Passage’s analysis of a “major and nevertheless ignored question”, the states’ membership of the Union. The sterile opposition between schools of thought (intergovernmentalism vs. functionalism, states vs. institutions etc.) has been deplored before, he notes, but Van Middelaar turns around the perspective by giving a voice to the intermediate sphere. The reviewer predicts that Le Passage – “a great book on Europe”, “going against the grain of the academic literature since twenty years” – will inspire many studies to offer a more embodied view of EU politics.
Politique européenne, n° 38, 2012/3, pp. 210-216 (in French).

“Praising its courage is the best way to appreciate this book, which blows up all genres, too reckless for the expert, too erudite for the student, no longer political science, not yet political programme. (..) On the small shelve of literary EU-literature, it may well claim the place of honour.” In a long review for H-Soz-Kult, the German website for academic historians, Jacob Krumrey (Florence) is intrigued by the fact The Passage firmly rejects a teleological approach to its subject and yet keeps a sense of direction; he sees the key in the book’s awareness of the power of discourse – “Ein Treitschke also, der Foucault im Munde führt!”.
H-Soz-Kult, 8 Sept. 2014 (in German)

“Few authors launch themselves solitarily into such an ambitious enterprise, no doubt for fear of breaking with today’s academic dogma of hyper-specialisation, but also because of the difficult exercise the object of study requires: a history of the present.” Thus French political scientist Julien Barroche (Inalco, Sciences-Po Paris) in Raisons politiques. He applauds Le Passage as the “work of synthesis that’s cruelly missed on Europe” – a topic fragmented between studies of law, political science, economy, history and philosophy. Barroche sets out the originality of the book’s overall interpretative frame, focusing on its analysis of the 1965 empty-chair crisis and the 1985 Milan summit.
Raisons politiques, n° 47, 2012/3, pp. 203-207 (in French)

The Low Countries Historical Review published a set of three long review essays on De Passage. For Belgian political scientist Steven Van Hecke, the book “succeeds brilliantly” in its ambition to tell another story about the birth of political Europe. Dutch historian André Gerrits enjoys it as “a great read” and “significant contribution to the historiography of European integration”, whereas economic historian Hein Klemann, less enthused, notes it does not say much on Europe’s economic integration. Van Middelaar’s reply – almost a mission statement – sets out the book’s theoretical choices and explains the key importance of its style.
BMGN/LCHR 125/4 (2010), pp. 59-81 (reviews) and pp. 82-89 (reply) (in English)

In the Dutch academic legal review SEW – Tijdschrift voor Europees en economisch recht, legal scholar Ton van den Brink appreciates the strong signals De passage sends “against a passive, cynical or even fatalistic” attitude towards European cooperation. He welcomes the book’s analysis of the ‘intermediate sphere’, including its legal and constitutional implications, but wished the author had articulated it more closely to the Union’s institutional ‘inner’ structure.
SEW, 2011/4 (April), pp. 199-201 (in Dutch)

“Perhaps the best analysts of politics have one foot inside the political game and one foot outside. Machiavelli was somebody like that, and so is Van Middelaar.” In the Dutch review for legal philosophy Rechtsfilosofie en rechtstheorie, political philosopher Bertjan Wolthuis explains why De passage naar Europa is a rare, good book on politics in the tradition of the 16th c. Florentine political thinker. He appreciates how the author gives European politics a space for political action in the relations between member states and by zooming in on a single encounter, summit or series of moves. “As playwright of the political theater Van Middelaar is brilliant”, the reviewer says, to regret the book consists not entirely of these dramatic moments.
Rechtsfilosofie & Rechtstheorie, 2010 (39) 2, pp. 188-191 (in Dutch)

“Whereas the grey zone between states and Brussels remained a black hole of the analysis, here it becomes the central issue (…), an analysis of the lynch-pin, crucial to an understanding of the edifice.” In a long, perceptive critique in the French review Politique européenne, political scientist Michel Mangenot (Strasbourg) highlights Le Passage’s analysis of a “major and nevertheless ignored question”, the states’ membership of the Union. The sterile opposition between schools of thought (intergovernmentalism vs. functionalism, states vs. institutions etc.) has been deplored before, he notes, but Van Middelaar turns around the perspective by giving a voice to the intermediate sphere. The reviewer predicts that Le Passage – “a great book on Europe”, “going against the grain of the academic literature since twenty years” – will inspire many studies to offer a more embodied view of EU politics.
Politique européenne, n° 38, 2012/3, pp. 210-216 (in French).

“Few authors launch themselves solitarily into such an ambitious enterprise, no doubt for fear of breaking with today’s academic dogma of hyper-specialisation, but also because of the difficult exercise the object of study requires: a history of the present.” Thus French political scientist Julien Barroche (Inalco, Sciences-Po Paris) in Raisons politiques. He applauds Le Passage as the “work of synthesis that’s cruelly missed on Europe” – a topic fragmented between studies of law, political science, economy, history and philosophy. Barroche sets out the originality of the book’s overall interpretative frame, focusing on its analysis of the 1965 empty-chair crisis and the 1985 Milan summit.
Raisons politiques, n° 47, 2012/3, pp. 203-207 (in French)

“Praising its courage is the best way to appreciate this book, which blows up all genres, too reckless for the expert, too erudite for the student, no longer political science, not yet political programme. (..) On the small shelve of literary EU-literature, it may well claim the place of honour.” In a long review for H-Soz-Kult, the German website for academic historians, Jacob Krumrey (Florence) is intrigued by the fact The Passage firmly rejects a teleological approach to its subject and yet keeps a sense of direction; he sees the key in the book’s awareness of the power of discourse – “Ein Treitschke also, der Foucault im Munde führt!”.
H-Soz-Kult, 8 Sept. 2014 (in German)

Europa muss die Menschen ansprechen. Interview mit Luuk van Middelaar.
Peter Riesbeck, Berliner Zeitung, 22 Jan. 2017

In the Dutch academic legal review SEW – Tijdschrift voor Europees en economisch recht, legal scholar Ton van den Brink appreciates the strong signals De passage sends “against a passive, cynical or even fatalistic” attitude towards European cooperation. He welcomes the book’s analysis of the ‘intermediate sphere’, including its legal and constitutional implications, but wished the author had articulated it more closely to the Union’s institutional ‘inner’ structure.
SEW, 2011/4 (April), pp.199-201 (in Dutch)

“Perhaps the best analysts of politics have one foot inside the political game and one foot outside. Machiavelli was somebody like that, and so is Van Middelaar.” In the Dutch review for legal philosophy Rechtsfilosofie en rechtstheorie, political philosopher Bertjan Wolthuis explains why De passage naar Europa is a rare, good book on politics in the tradition of the 16th c. Florentine political thinker. He appreciates how the author gives European politics a space for political action in the relations between member states and by zooming in on a single encounter, summit or series of moves. “As playwright of the political theater Van Middelaar is brilliant”, the reviewer says, to regret the book consists not entirely of these dramatic moments.
Rechtsfilosofie & Rechtstheorie, 2010 (39) 2, pp.188-191 (in Dutch)

Book reviews

“Virtuoos”
Ger Groot, NRC Handelsblad 19 Nov. 1999.
Verdwaald in de achterdocht

“Een bijzonder knap en prikkelend boek”
Rob Hartmans, De Groene Amsterdammer 24 Nov. 1999.
De erfenis van Kojève

“Een clever boek, met een verrassende kijk op het Franse engagement van de afgelopen vijftig jaar”
Carel Peeters, Vrij Nederland 4 Dec. 1999.
Van politicide naar politicitis

“Het boek is meeslepend geschreven, de greep op de stof is fenomenaal, de anekdotes zijn verhelderend en de goed gekozen one-liners vatten de wijsgerige posities meestal treffend samen.”
Hans Achterhuis, de Volkskrant 18 Feb. 2000.
Franse filosofen in de beklaagdenbank

“Acaba de sair no Brasil um livro que explica bem, no plano da filosofia política, por que a Europa, em grande parte, não tem recursos teóricos que ajudem seus políticos professionais a enfrantar a Europa real.”
Luiz Felipe Pondé, Folha de S. Paulo 18 Jan. 2016
Maoismo sabor camembert

Academic reviews

“Bij de verbluffende hoeveelheid materiaal die van Middelaar heeft verzameld is het bewonderenswaardig dat hij er zulke eenduidige en ook overtuigende lijnen in heeft weten aan te brengen. Mijn aarzeling geldt echter precies deze eenduidigheid en neiging tot schematiseren.”
Yolande Jansen, De vergrotende trap, Krisis 1 (2000) n° 3, pp. 90-96.