The Marshall Plan: Book summary and reviews of The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil

The Marshall Plan

Dawn of the Cold War

by Benn Steil

The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil X
The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil

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About this book

Book Summary

The award-winning author of The Battle of Bretton Woods reveals the gripping history behind the Marshall Plan - told with verve, insight, and resonance for today.

In the wake of World War II, with Britain's empire collapsing and Stalin's on the rise, US officials under new secretary of state George C. Marshall set out to reconstruct western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly, and ambitious undertaking would confront Europeans and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions. In the process, they would drive the creation of NATO, the European Union, and a Western identity that continues to shape world events.

Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Benn Steil's thrilling account brings to life the seminal episodes marking the collapse of postwar US-Soviet relations - the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade, and the division of Germany. In each case, we see and understand like never before Stalin's determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe.

Given current echoes of the Cold War, as Putin's Russia rattles the world order, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever. The Marshall Plan provides critical context into understanding today's international landscape. Bringing to bear fascinating new material from American, Russian, German, and other European archives, Steil's account will forever change how we see the Marshall Plan and the birth of the Cold War. A polished and masterly work of historical narrative, this is an instant classic of Cold War literature.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Political history is often a tough slog, but Steil writes a vivid, opinionated narrative full of colorful characters, dramatic scenarios, villains, and genuine heroes, and the good guys won. It will be the definitive account for years to come." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Though dense reading, this work is certain to be an essential resource in academic libraries' collections on European history and economics." - Library Journal

"Steil's fresh perspective on a well-tilled subject will be appreciated by specialists for its wide-ranging analysis and welcomed by general readers for its engrossing style and accessibility." - Publishers Weekly

"Drawing on an equally keen grasp of diplomacy, economics and grand strategy, Steil sets a new standard for our understanding, not just of the Cold War, but also the post-Cold War era, where the future of Europe and the role of the United States in it are once again at stake. An outstanding - and certainly timely - accomplishment." - John Lewis Gaddis, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University

"Engaging, detailed, and well researched, it takes us behind closed doors in both Europe and the United States, illuminating how the plan was created and how it changed the world...It also sheds light on how open mindsets and intelligent economic architecture can help anchor an increasingly fluid and uncertain global economy." - Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz, former CEO of PIMCO, and author of The Only Game in Town

"Enlivened by brilliantly-wrought pen portraits, this gripping narrative adds a whole new perspective on one of the most fateful periods in world history." - Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lords of Finance

"The Marshall Plan is one of the great success stories of U.S. foreign policy. Benn Steil's well-researched and insightful account reminds us that this iconic example of strategic foresight and imagination was anything but inevitable...The moral for our era is clear: successful foreign policies require creative and dedicated public servants and do not emerge without them." - Stephen Walt, Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

"The Marshall Plan is a remarkably insightful and beautifully written work of diplomatic and economic history...This book will open eyes and minds." - Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

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Benn Steil is senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War. His previous book, the prize-winning Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, was called "a triumph of economic and diplomatic history" by the Financial Times, "a superb history" by The Wall Street Journal, and "the gold standard on its subject" by The New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife and two boys.

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