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Publisher's Summary

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 continues to shape world events.

Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Benn Steil's thrilling account 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 understand like never before Stalin's determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe.

Given current echoes of the Cold War, as Putin's Russia rattles the world order, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever. The Marshall Plan provides critical context into understanding today's international landscape. 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 and the birth of the Cold War. A polished and masterly work of historical narrative, this is an instant classic of Cold War literature. 

©2018 Benn Steil (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Historic Learning

After reading Truman and Churchill, then listening to Stalin's, biographies this was a great source of information. I feel like I learned more from this than some of my history classes of long ago.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M. T.
  • Columbia, SC USA
  • 04-15-18

Excellent history

A fine and important work... New York Times' review is an excellent summary of the book. Recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A 20th century history speaks to the 21st century

Benn Steil's admirably detailed and textured examination of this critical Cold War initiative not only brings out the challenges faced by Harry Truman, George Marshall, and their subordinates, as well as their allies and adversaries, but clearly connects the choices that they made to today's controversies. Arthur Morey delivers the text with just the right pace and intonation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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History came alive

If you could sum up The Marshall Plan in three words, what would they be?

We knew little

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

How history defines the past and explains the present geo-political aspect of our relationship to Russia and Europe

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The detailsof the complexity and fragility of the Berlin airlift

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Packed with Information

I picked up this audible book to get some background on the Marshall Plan, and this book delivers. What I found most interesting were the conclusions about present day relations with Russia, bringing home the giant gulf between the politics of the mid-20th century in the U.S. and those of today. What statesmen will we remember from this era? I don’t believe there are any in today’s Republican Party at any level of government.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 05-28-18

Very Detailed History

This is a really good history of the Marshall Plan and of the post-war era. It is very detailed. The book is a little ponderous in places because of the amount of detail. However, it picks up and ends up being pretty interesting. My advice: Be prepared for the detail, but stick with it!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but slow at times

The Marshall Plan has intrigued me since I began studying the Cold War. This book covers a lot more than just the Marshall Plan, which has good and bed results. Adding the peripheral actions and decisions makes the length a bit daunting, which slowed me down as they were not my key interest. But on the other hand they add to one's overall understanding of the situation. Perhaps Dawn of the Cold War should have been the title and The Marshall Plan the subtitle? Foreign policy, especially with regard to economic implications: sanctions, tariffs, money devaluation, ad nauseam, is a difficult concept for me and there's a fair amount of it in here, again, good and bad. The overall intent of the book seemed to be more about NATO and the EU, and how both have been used/misused strategically against Russia. I learned a lot and could easily reread for better understanding, so the money's not wasted. It's just not always a gripping read.