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The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order

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The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Benn Steil has written a wonderfully rich and vivid account of the making of the postwar economic order. The Battle of Bretton Woods tells the fascinating story of the contest between the United States and Britain, led by the outsized personalities of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, to reconcile their competing visions and interests."--Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance

"A riveting, exceptionally well-written account of the birth of the postwar economic order, and the roles of two determined men who were competing to define it. The Battle of Bretton Woods is a must-read work of economic and diplomatic history with great relevance to today."--Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"This is a fascinating study of monetary affairs and the politics of international finance, all tied up in the history of the Bretton Woods system and its ultimate demise. The book is full of lessons that are relevant today in a world that still resists international monetary reform."--Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"Benn Steil has written a fascinating book with far-reaching consequences. In seeing the creation of the postwar economic system through the prism of the harsh interaction between Keynes and White, he makes complicated financial issues easy to fathom. Above all, Steil conclusively establishes the truth of an astonishing paradox--that White, the architect of the global capitalist financial architecture, was also a secret agent of the Soviet Union!"--Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War

"Beautifully and engagingly written, deeply researched, and of great contemporary interest, this book addresses how Bretton Woods really worked. One virtue of the book is that it places the United States and its chief negotiator, the enigmatic Harry Dexter White, at the center of the narrative. It also documents more fully and convincingly than any previous account the extent of White's espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, a story that enhances an already gripping narrative."--Harold James, author of Making the European Monetary Union

Review:

The Battle of Bretton Woods should become the gold standard on its topic. The details are addictive. But be warned: the book is dense. Every skirmish, every exchange — and the book gets into hundreds of them — was presumably meaningful to the participants." --Fred Andrews, New York Times

Review:

"Steil's book, engaging and entertaining, perceptive and instructive, is a triumph of economic and diplomatic history. Everything is here: political chicanery, bureaucratic skulduggery, espionage, hard economic detail and the acid humour of men making history under pressure." --Tony Berber, Financial Times

Review:

"If you enjoyed Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance, and his take on the 1920′s, and you are looking for something comparable on postwar economic reconstruction, this is the place to go. The book also contains some explosive revelations about White’s work as a Soviet spy, very well documented, I might add." --Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Synopsis:

"Benn Steil has written a fascinating book with far-reaching consequences. In seeing the creation of the postwar economic system through the prism of the harsh interaction between Keynes and White, he makes complicated financial issues easy to fathom. Above all, Steil conclusively establishes the truth of an astonishing paradox--that White, the architect of the global capitalist financial architecture, was also a secret agent of the Soviet Union!"--Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War

"Benn Steil has written a wonderfully rich and vivid account of the making of the postwar economic order. The Battle of Bretton Woods tells the fascinating story of the contest between the United States and Britain, led by the outsized personalities of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, to reconcile their competing visions and interests."--Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance

"A riveting, exceptionally well-written account of the birth of the postwar economic order, and the roles of two determined men who were competing to define it. The Battle of Bretton Woods is a must-read work of economic and diplomatic history with great relevance to today."--"Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"This is a fascinating study of monetary affairs and the politics of international finance, all tied up in the history of the Bretton Woods system and its ultimate demise. The book is full of lessons relevant today in a world that still resists international monetary reform."--Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"Beautifully and engagingly written, deeply researched, and of great contemporary interest, this book addresses how Bretton Woods really worked. One virtue of the book is that it places the United States and its chief negotiator, the enigmatic Harry Dexter White, at the center of the narrative. It also documents more fully and convincingly than any previous account the extent of White's espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, a story that enhances an already gripping narrative."--Harold James, Princeton University

Synopsis:

When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for 'a new Bretton Woods' to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of forty-four nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century's second great war, has become shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, and rivalry, which are vividly brought to life in Benn Steil's epic account.

Upending the conventional wisdom that Bretton Woods was the product of an amiable Anglo-American collaboration, Steil shows that it was in reality part of a much more ambitious geopolitical agenda hatched within President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Treasury and aimed at eliminating Britain as an economic and political rival. At the heart of the drama were the antipodal characters of John Maynard Keynes, the renowned and revolutionary British economist, and Harry Dexter White, the dogged, self-made American technocrat. Bringing to bear new and striking archival evidence, Steil offers the most compelling portrait yet of the complex and controversial figure of White--the architect of the dollar's privileged place in the Bretton Woods monetary system, who also, very privately, admired Soviet economic planning and engaged in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents over many years.

A remarkably deft work of storytelling that reveals how the blueprint for the postwar economic order was actually drawn, The Battle of Bretton Woods is destined to become a classic of economic and political history.

About the Author

Benn Steil is senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous book, "Money, Markets, and Sovereignty", was awarded the 2010 Hayek Book Prize.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

Chapter 2: The World Comes to the White Mountains 9

Chapter 3: The Improbable Rise of Harry White 17

Chapter 4: Maynard Keynes and the Monetary Menace 61

Chapter 5: "The Most Unsordid Act" 99

Chapter 6: The Best-Laid Plans of White and Keynes 125

Chapter 7: Whitewash 155

Chapter 8: History Is Made 201

Chapter 9: Begging Like Fala 251

Chapter 10: Out with the Old Order, In with the New 293

Chapter 11: Epilogue 330

Appendix 1: Harry Dexter White Manuscript Photos 349

Appendix 2: Statement of Harry S. Truman on Harry Dexter White, 1953 351

Cast of Characters 355

Notes 371

References 407

Index 427

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691149097
Author:
Steil, Benn
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
American history
Subject:
Economics
Publication Date:
20130231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
32 halftones.
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Business » Accounting and Finance
Business » History and Biographies
Business » Personal Finance
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Economics » Global Economics
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy

The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order Used Hardcover
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Product details 480 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691149097 Reviews:
"Review" by , The Battle of Bretton Woods should become the gold standard on its topic. The details are addictive. But be warned: the book is dense. Every skirmish, every exchange — and the book gets into hundreds of them — was presumably meaningful to the participants." --Fred Andrews, New York Times
"Review" by , "Steil's book, engaging and entertaining, perceptive and instructive, is a triumph of economic and diplomatic history. Everything is here: political chicanery, bureaucratic skulduggery, espionage, hard economic detail and the acid humour of men making history under pressure." --Tony Berber, Financial Times
"Review" by , "If you enjoyed Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance, and his take on the 1920′s, and you are looking for something comparable on postwar economic reconstruction, this is the place to go. The book also contains some explosive revelations about White’s work as a Soviet spy, very well documented, I might add." --Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
"Synopsis" by , "Benn Steil has written a fascinating book with far-reaching consequences. In seeing the creation of the postwar economic system through the prism of the harsh interaction between Keynes and White, he makes complicated financial issues easy to fathom. Above all, Steil conclusively establishes the truth of an astonishing paradox--that White, the architect of the global capitalist financial architecture, was also a secret agent of the Soviet Union!"--Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War

"Benn Steil has written a wonderfully rich and vivid account of the making of the postwar economic order. The Battle of Bretton Woods tells the fascinating story of the contest between the United States and Britain, led by the outsized personalities of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, to reconcile their competing visions and interests."--Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance

"A riveting, exceptionally well-written account of the birth of the postwar economic order, and the roles of two determined men who were competing to define it. The Battle of Bretton Woods is a must-read work of economic and diplomatic history with great relevance to today."--"Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"This is a fascinating study of monetary affairs and the politics of international finance, all tied up in the history of the Bretton Woods system and its ultimate demise. The book is full of lessons relevant today in a world that still resists international monetary reform."--Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"Beautifully and engagingly written, deeply researched, and of great contemporary interest, this book addresses how Bretton Woods really worked. One virtue of the book is that it places the United States and its chief negotiator, the enigmatic Harry Dexter White, at the center of the narrative. It also documents more fully and convincingly than any previous account the extent of White's espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, a story that enhances an already gripping narrative."--Harold James, Princeton University

"Synopsis" by , When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for 'a new Bretton Woods' to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of forty-four nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century's second great war, has become shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, and rivalry, which are vividly brought to life in Benn Steil's epic account.

Upending the conventional wisdom that Bretton Woods was the product of an amiable Anglo-American collaboration, Steil shows that it was in reality part of a much more ambitious geopolitical agenda hatched within President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Treasury and aimed at eliminating Britain as an economic and political rival. At the heart of the drama were the antipodal characters of John Maynard Keynes, the renowned and revolutionary British economist, and Harry Dexter White, the dogged, self-made American technocrat. Bringing to bear new and striking archival evidence, Steil offers the most compelling portrait yet of the complex and controversial figure of White--the architect of the dollar's privileged place in the Bretton Woods monetary system, who also, very privately, admired Soviet economic planning and engaged in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents over many years.

A remarkably deft work of storytelling that reveals how the blueprint for the postwar economic order was actually drawn, The Battle of Bretton Woods is destined to become a classic of economic and political history.

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