Notes From the Margins…

Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent

  • November 29, 2013
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It’s been more than a year since my last book Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent came out, and it has yet to receive a single review in any mainstream publication in the UK.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind any readers of this blog that immigration is a ‘hot’ political topic, and that much of the ‘debate’ about it is shaped by a torrent of lies, prejudice and misinformation emanating from the politicians and the media.

In my book I’ve tried to give some different perspectives.     I’ve tried to give voices to people who normally aren’t heard.   I spent two and a half years traveling round Europe’s ‘hard borders’ to try and do this.

Here is the result, in the UK edition…


And the American…

And here are some reasons why you might want to get it for someone for Xmas:

‘ Matthew Carr has dug beneath this humanitarian citadel to expose how atavistic fears, racism, and paranoia, fed by cowardly and callous politicians, are blighting the lives of asylum seekers and other “aliens”.     Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill would turn in their graves at this denial of human dignity.   [A] measured and moving account of the hypocrisy at the heart of European human rights.’ – Geoffrey Robertson QC

‘Employing a personable, readable style, the author shares vignettes from his extensive travels along Europe’s outer reaches, from the African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla to the Greek archipelago to the Slovakian-Ukrainian border. . . His focus on the human consequences of global inequality transcends ideological distinctions. An unflinching look inside.’ –Kirkus Reviews

‘Fortress Europe shines a light on Europe’s hidden war against immigration, whose devastating human cost is often ignored. Through powerful first-hand reporting from the front lines, Matthew Carr reminds us that migrants are not barbarians at the gates but human beings who, like us, aspire to a better life.’ – Philippe Legrain, author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

This stirring, authentic account of the refugee experience comes from Carr”s face-to-face interviews and passionate observation of current hot topics sure to spark debate, including human trafficking.’ – American Library Association.   Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults 2012

‘An inspiring and thoroughly researched book, not afraid of communicating a clear political message and expressing severe criticism, Fortress Europe provides much room for discussion not only on EU immigration policies, but also on the norms, values and principles on which Europe builds itself and against which it is measured.’ – Inez von Weitershausen.   LSE Blogs.  

‘ Carr has some humane and sensible suggestions, the most important being that Europeans pay attention to their own history, and not just the blood-soaked ethnic warfare part. The EU only broke down its interior borders after a prolonged period of worry on the part of rich northern nations that they would be overwhelmed by over-breeding, low-income southern Europeans. Look how that turned out.’ – Brian Bethune, Macleans Magazine

‘ Carr”s message is clear: “If borders can be hardened, they can also be softened.” He argues that the EU must begin dismantling the “walls” built on fear and prejudice if it wants to stay true to the values on which it was founded. With its eye-opening depictions, strong moral position and thought-provoking proposals, there is no doubt that this book will appeal to a broad public, nurturing critical discussions about border-related policies and practices and the future of the “gated continent”. – Council for European Studies.    

‘ What are the humanitarian consequences of European strategies to protect their own borders? This book provides contemporary and historical context and contends that European immigration policies and so-called “hard borders” have a role in explaining instability and border conflicts in poorer states.’ – Christian Science Monitor ‘ 23 books I wish Obama and Romney would read.’

‘ This disturbing but hopeful book humanizes the face of 21st-century immigration.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘The unique virtue of the book lies in Carr”s reporting from the brutal frontiers of the new Europe: Ukrainian border towns where illegal trafficking thrives, Spanish territories in Morocco where would-be immigrants are shot dead or left to die in the Sahara after attempting to scale razor-wire fences, Italian and Maltese islands where overfilled boatloads of Africans drown by the hundreds.’ – Foreign Affairs

‘Matthew Carr’s Fortress Europe exposes the racism and brutality that are the result of immigration border controls. He details the treacherous routes taken by migrants in order to evade detection, the squalid prison-like detention centres in which they are held, and the relentless harassment they face at the hands of some of the most affluent states in the world.’ – Socialist Review

‘ An eye-opening journey…a world the regular traveler will never see,’ Philippe Sands

‘ Americans would do well to travel with Matthew Carr inside Fortress Europe to understand the ugly resentments, reactions, and anti-immigrant backlash that are shifting Europe dangerously from its social democratic foundations. ‘ – Tom Barry, author of Border Wars

‘ Fortress Europe is a wake-up call to anyone who cares about the future of our civilization in the turbulent age of globalization.’ – Anouar Majid, author of We Are All Moors





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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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