Winner of the 2019 New-York Historical Society Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History Winner of the 2018 American Academy of Diplomacy Douglas Dillon Award Shortlisted for the 2018 Duff Cooper Prize in Literary Nonfiction
“[A] brilliant book…by far the best study yet” (Paul Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal) of the gripping history behind the Marshall Plan and its long-lasting influence on our world.
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 continue to shape world events.
Benn Steil’s “thoroughly researched and well-written account” (USA TODAY) tells the story behind the birth of the Cold War, told with verve, insight, and resonance for today. Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Benn Steil’s gripping narrative takes us through 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, Stalin’s determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe is vividly portrayed. 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.
“Trenchant and timely…an ambitious, deeply researched narrative that…provides a fresh perspective on the coming Cold War” (The New York Times Book Review), The Marshall Plan is a polished and masterly work of historical narrative. An instant classic of Cold War literature, it “is a gripping, complex, and critically important story that is told with clarity and precision” (TheChristian Science Monitor).
American, British, and Soviet leaders gather at Potsdam to discuss the future of Germany and postwar Europe, July 17, 1945. Foreground: British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden (left) and Permanent Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs Alexander Cadogan (right). Background: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (center) and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (left).
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 TheNew York Times. He lives in New York with his wife and two boys.