In the history of modern political thought, no topics have attracted as much attention as nationalism, nation-formation, and patriotism. A mass of literature has grown around these vexed issues, muddying the waters, and a level-headed clarification is long overdue.
Rather than adding another theory of nationalism to this maelstrom of ideas, Miroslav Hroch has created a remarkable synthesis, integrating apparently competing frameworks into a coherent system that tracks the historical genesis of European nations through the sundry paths of the nation-forming processes of the nineteenth century. Combining a comparative perspective on nation-formation with invaluable theoretical insights, European Nations is essential for anyone who wants to understand the historical roots of Europe’s current political crisis.
“This is a rare example of a successful, rigorous comparative history.”
“Hroch’s work remains impressive for the sweep of the comparative discussion and significant for what he uncovers about the dynamics of emergent national movements by analysing the similarities as well as differences among them.”
“He offers a masterly survey of the various theoretical approaches to nation formation, also paying attention to major works that are generally ignored in Western literature … An outstanding achievement, providing the best introduction to date of the processes of nation formation.”
“Hroch’s work has now influenced several generations of scholars interested in many different parts of the world … [they] have generalized Hroch’s insights to other parts of the world. Nothing more persuasively demonstrates the usefulness of a scholarly idea than its applicability to unforeseen circumstances.”
“Carefully reconstructing the social backgrounds of the patriots who joined clubs and societies, subscribed to the first newspapers, and gave money to the cause, Hroch provided the first empirical sociology for nationalist movements. His conception of nation formation was both materialist—economic, social, and cultural factors coming together to create a larger space of social communication—and subjective—the formation of a 'memory' of some common past, treated as 'destiny' of the group.”