At the end of World War II, the United States embarked upon an ambitious effort to rebuild the shattered European economy. Officially known as the European Recovery Program, it was then and is now better known as the Marshall Plan, after its originator, the noted American military leader and statesman, George C. Marshall. For years, historians have presented the Marshall Plan as a unique event, a singular attempt without parallel in the nation’s history.
Michael Hogan’s work presents a revised and convincing case that in fact the Marshall Plan was the logical outgrowth of an entire generation of American thought that has been ongoing since the late 1890’s and that was most fully developed in this country in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program. The integration of political and economic efforts that developed was founded on the cooperation of government and private business, guided by institutional coordinators--such as official commissions or industry groups--which aimed to reduce frictions and improve total benefits.
The American thrust in the Marshall Plan was to export this version of modern neocapitalism to Europe, cutting across the old national boundaries and divisions and replicating the American experience. Viewed in this light, the Marshall Plan was not a new idea, according to Hogan, but part of the continuing diplomatic and economic efforts of the United States.
The fate of the Marshall Plan in Europe was determined by the reaction of its supposed beneficiaries, in particular the British. Hogan’s account of the sea changes that occurred is revealing and intriguing, and his use of British state documents in particular provides new insights into the often profound alterations made in the program.L This volume is an extremely valuable contribution to the history of modern times and covers an important and difficult subject with breadth, understanding, and clarity.