With Britain's empire collapsing and Stalin's ascendant, U.S. 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.
This is the story behind the birth of the Cold War, and the U.S.-led liberal global order, told with verve, insight, and resonance for today. Bringing to bear fascinating new material from American, Russian, German, and other European archives, Benn Steil's book will forever change how we see the Marshall Plan.
Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Steil's gripping narrative takes us through the seminal episodes marking the collapse of postwar U.S.-Soviet relations: the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade, and the division of Germany. In each case, Stalin's determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe is vividly portrayed. And in a riveting epilogue, Steil shows how the forces which clove Europe in two after the Second World War have reasserted themselves since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A polished and masterly work of historical narrative, The Marshall Plan is an instant classic of Cold War literature.
Benn Steil is Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous book, the prize-winning The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order (2014), 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.
Cast of Characters