4 out of 5 stars
To be a modern European means that you have the opportunity to travel amongst the member countries with little or no identification. Quite amazing to think that this is possible when less than a century ago, we were all at War. That was the last in a series of wars that had taken place on the continent over the past millennia too. Should someone from the Netherlands wish to move to Spain to work they are perfectly entitled to do so. This has gone a long way in ensuring that the horrendous things that happen back then are never repeated and that human rights have become one of the key values of the European project.
Whilst freedom of movement is allowed within the borders, if you live outside those lines, don’t have the right passport or sadly don’t have the correct colour skin, it is much much harder to get across and move within. With various conflicts going on around the world, there are a lot of people who want to come here to make some attempt to rebuild their lives.
This displacement affects real people and in 2015 this river of people wanting to come to Europe became a flood. It is these people that Trilling wants to meet with and talk with and try to understand their predicament. To do this he sneaks into detention centres, goes to the camps and hostels with the intention of understanding why the felt the need to move from their homeland. He also hopes to understand what drove his ancestors to do a similar thing when they were displaced from Russia to Germany and then again from there to the UK.
In talking to these people he hopes to find what the differences are between, economic migrant, asylum seeker and refugee and to see if these broad definitions stand up to the reality of life. He helps people like, Jamal, Caesar and Farhan tell the stories from their perspective as well as asking the bigger questions about the way our societies treat these people, why we should we regulate their movement and if there are better ways of dealing with the whole immigration issue. Whilst this is not the most cheerful of books to read, it is an important book in lots of ways and deserves to be read by more people so they can understand the issues we all face.