Luuk van Middelaar

© Sake Elzinga
Frankfurter Buchmesse
Guest of Honour 2016

Luuk van Middelaar

1973, Eindhoven
Former speech writer, columnist, professor.

Luuk van Middelaar, philosopher and historian, studied at Groningen University and at the Sorbonne and the EHESS in Paris. Since his debut with Politicide (1999), for which he won the prestigious Prix de Paris, he has ranked as an influential voice in public debates. In The Passage to Europe (published in Dutch in 2009, and in English in 2013), he traces today’s European institutions in Brussels back to European power politics since 1500. The work was awarded the Dutch Socrates Challenge Cup 2010 for the best and most original philosophy book. Van Middelaar previously worked as a speech writer for the first President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, and is currently professor of European Law at Leiden University. He has been a columnist for the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad since 2015, and also writes for Die Zeit and Le Monde. His books have been translated into twelve languages.

Links   Translations   Dutch Foundation for Literature   Historische Uitgeverij   Suhrkamp

Recently translated into German

The Passage to Europe
Suhrkamp Verlag, 2016
Original title: De passage naar Europa (Historische Uitgeverij, 2009)

As financial turmoil in Europe preoccupies political leaders and global markets, it becomes more important than ever to understand the forces that underpin the European Union, hold it together and drive it forward. This timely book provides a gripping account of the realities of power politics among European states and between their leaders. Drawing on long experience working behind the scenes, Luuk van Middelaar captures the dynamics and tensions shaping the European Union from its origins until today.

It is a story of unexpected events and twists of fate, bold vision and sheer necessity, told from the perspective of the keyplayers – from de Gaulle to Havel, Thatcher to Merkel. Van Middelaar cuts through the institutional complexity by exploring the unforeseen outcomes of decisive moments and focusing on the quest for public legitimacy.

As a first-hand witness to the day-to-day actions and decisions of Europe’s leaders, the author provides a vivid narrative of the crises and compromises that united a continent. By revisiting the past, he sheds fresh light on the present state of European unification and offers insights into what the future may hold.
A candid history of an unprecedented historical experiment: the creation of the European Union. A pioneering study, brisk, sober and penetrating at the same time. A formidable achievement.

Geert Mak, author of In Europe

Van Middelaar has a great facility for combining historical narrative, political essay writing, philosophical speculation and legal exegesis. A wholly new angle on the European process.

NRC Handelsblad

Luuk van Middelaar cannot be praised highly enough for writing a book about Europe that captivates from beginning to end, is completely free of technical jargon and prompts further reflection.

De Volkskrant