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Bookmarks Issue: 
22-May-June-2006
By: 
Bruce Bawer
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How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within

A-WhileEuropeSleptThe open door of European liberalism, which welcomes refugees with well-funded social programs, appears admirable from the outside. What immigrants do not find, however, are real careers or acceptance into the long-established societies of Europe’s capitals. As the protests in Denmark and riots in Paris reveal, civil unrest has been mounting for some time. Taking his examples from the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries that he has called home, American native Bruce Bawer paints a portentous picture of benevolent if myopic old societies about to be overwhelmed by this influx of immigrants whose allegiance knows only one direction: Mecca.
Doubleday. 256 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0385514727

Rocky Mountain News 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This book is thorough, insightful, and depressing. It does not end with any kind of silver lining of hope. That said, if you want to understand the car burnings, the killings over cartoons and films, and other outrages sure to come, you won’t do any better than While Europe Slept." Scott C. Yates

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"Bawer’s must-read book, in tandem with others, opens our eyes to an inescapable truth: Christians and Muslims fought wars for more than 1,000 years, with each at times conquering the other’s territory by force. Non-Muslims need to know far more about Islam if they’re going to take positions they can justify, whether that leads to cooperating with various Islamic world views or ultimately confronting them." Carlin Romano

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"While Europe Slept is an angry book, well written and well informed. And it could not, of course, be more timely. The title is a bit of a misnomer; most of the book deals with the region that Mr. Bawer knows best, the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands." Walter Laqueur

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Bawer’s claims are sometimes eccentric, but his critique of the EU and its elites is bracing and commonsensical, and it may not be a bad suggestion to Americans who run down their country abroad to ‘cut it out,’ although how salutary to Europeans this will be is unclear." Eric Weinberger

Critical Summary

Bruce Bawer, who has wrestled previously about American fundamentalism (Stealing Jesus) and gay rights (A Place at the Table), finds an equally contentious and compelling subject in the blind eye of European liberalism. Enchanted by the famed tolerance of Amsterdam, Bawer moved to Europe in 1998. But after settling in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, the author noticed a society that offered "millions in aid, but not a penny in salary." Reviewers find Bawer an eloquent writer with his passion balanced between his American sensibilities and his European residence. The sharpest criticism—that a lack of a bibliography turns While Europe Slept into an exercise in pamphleteering—doesn’t undermine the ultimate effectiveness, or importance, of Bawer’s thesis.