Mr. Kimmage rightly believes that he has hold of one of the most important concepts of the previous century, the idea of the West, and capably traces its evolution and context. He purports to limit himself to its role in shaping U.S. foreign policy, but in truth he ranges more widely. He writes with keen observation ... It is to Mr. Kimmage’s immense credit that he manages to maintain a firm hold on two ropes pulling in opposite directions ... Racism and conquest have been ubiquitous in politics. The political wherewithal to call them out and try to overcome them has not. A frank acknowledgment of Western shortcomings, past and present, as Mr. Kimmage demonstrates so persuasively, makes sense only in the context of an appreciation of the singular Western contribution to human flourishing.
... ruminative ... Kimmage’s erudite and far-ranging discussion of debates over Western-ness highlights the perspectives of critics like James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois, and Edward Said, but his weak argument for reviving a Euro-American alliance relies on vague concerns about challenges from Russia and China. Contrary to the author’s intentions, some readers will leave this tepid study feeling that the rhetoric of Western solidarity is no longer relevant.
Kimmage’s latest book stands apart because of its historical and philosophical treatment of what Western culture means to contemporary Americans ... This is an exceedingly important book and certainly one that would benefit all American readers who wonder how we arrived at our current status in an increasingly interconnected world. Highly recommended for all collections.