Benn Steil: Dawn of the Cold War
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Given the current echoes of the Cold War, as Putin’s Russia rattles the world order, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain global order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever.
In the wake of World War II, with Britain’s empire collapsing and Stalin on the rise, US officials under new secretary of state George C. Marshall set out with a plan to reconstruct Western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. 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 latest book “Dawn of the Cold War” 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 Stalin’s determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe.
Benn Steil is the director of international economics and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 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.
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