As Benn Steil details in his brilliant book The Marshall Plan, the Soviets had shown ever-greater intransigence throughout 1946 and 1947 in regard to all proposals for the economic rebuilding of Europe and the political reconstitution of the defeated Germany … Mr. Steil’s is by far the best study yet, because it is so wise and so balanced in its judgments, including, for example, its candid discussion on how much the plan truly boosted the economies of the many recipients … The book has an invaluable ‘Cast of Characters,’ a daunting bibliography and a huge 74 pages of notes. It’s quite a tribute it all reads so well.
Benn Steil’s new book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War is an important and welcome analysis of why and how the US became a global superpower and the difference it made to the world we inhabit … Steil makes a compelling case that the integration of Western Europe that we now take for granted really began with the Marshall Plan … This is a gripping, complex, and critically important story that is told with clarity and precision. The book is superbly documented and reflects an extraordinary level of research.
Steil tells the story of not just the development of the Marshall Plan but also the division of Germany, the founding of NATO and, as the subtitle of his book indicates, the dawn of the Cold War. Steil’s account is the most detailed yet of the lengthy, constantly evolving initiative … Steil is at his best when describing the myriad agencies and policies that oversaw and executed the Marshall Plan as it distributed more than $13 billion in aid to 17 countries from 1948 to 1952. He writes elegantly on economics, explaining complicated mechanisms used to fuel the Western European recovery … Steil’s conclusion is less convincing. He ends the book with a distracting discussion of the post-Cold War period and a critique of U.S.-supported NATO expansion to countries of the former Soviet bloc and the resulting alienation of Russia.