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  • The Marshall Plan

  • Dawn of the Cold War
  • By: Benn Steil
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 16 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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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

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  • Jean
  • 18-10-18

A Deeply Researched Narrative

This is more of an academic book that tells about the massive and complicated United States effort to aid Europe after World War Two. In 2017 I read “Harry and Arthur” by Lawrence J Haas. Having read that book help me have a better understanding when reading “The Marshall Plan”. Steil did not go into depth about any of the people involved, he just told what they did. Harry Truman (1884-1972) and Arthur Vandenberg (1884-1951) play key roles in this book. The other book that helped with obtaining more depth of understanding was “The Kennon Diaries” by George F. Kennan (1904-2005). Kennan wrote the first part of the Marshall Plan and plays a key role in this book.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Steil extensively researched the United States archival material as well as that of Britain, France, Germany, Czech, Serbia and Russia. Steil also discussed the founding of NATO.

Secretary of State, General George C. Marshall (1880-1959), guided the planning and implementation of the plan to help Europe recover from the devastation of the War. The United States was concerned about the spread of communism. If I read the book correctly, I think, Steil adopted the argument made by historians, Scott Parnish and Mikhail Narinsky in 1994, that the Soviets viewed the Marshall Plan as an aggressive move by the United States. Steil ended with the fall of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany. I found this book helped me understand what is happening today in the world and the great risk that is taking place with a return to the far-right totalitarianism around the world.

Steil tells the story in fascinating detail and I felt he created interesting portraits of the major policy makers of the United States and Western Europe. I found Steil’s writing style easy to read. I have read a number of books about the Marshall Plan and I think this one is excellent in explaining the big picture.

The book is fairly long at sixteen hours and thirty-eight minutes or about 600 pages in the printed format. Arthur Morey does an excellent job narrating the book. Morey is an actor and well-known audiobook narrator. I have always enjoyed listening to him. He has won many Earphone Awards as well as voted Best Voice in Non-Fiction and also in History by the Audiofile Magazine.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Dan Davis
  • 07-04-18

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • b
  • 17-01-19

A must read for everyone

I wanted to know more about how Europe was created in the wake of the Second World War. This book should be required reading for everyone regardless of their age or experience. I never realize the significance of the Marshall plan nor the importance the US had in re-creating Europe and its own image and those implications that we are still benefiting from today. It has transformed my personal beliefs and opinions regarding how important it is to not only be engaged but to be moral leaders for the world. #BeTheCityOnTheHill

4 people found this helpful

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  • Gary
  • 18-03-19

Flawed Premise ruins last portion of book

The Russians are not victims of NATO. There is no basis for believing Russia would have been jolly good fellows but for NATO expansion to the East. The actions taken by Russia could just as convincingly prove how wise NATO was to expand on anticipation of the behavior that was predictable based on geography and history

7 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 28-05-18

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!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ralph D.
  • 19-04-20

Marshall Plan made America most powerful nation

Written with incredible insight. The stories take you behind the scenes into the conversations and motives of the players, during a period which shaped the western world as anyone alive knows it. The personalities are both larger than life and very human. The narration is read with understanding and intelligence. Undoubtedly, (and perhaps unwittingly,) the Marshall Plan made America most powerful nation in the world.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rex Michael Dillon
  • 26-01-19

Definitive History

This book offers the definitive history of the most enduringly successful piece of American Foreign Policy. The early portion demonstrates how what is today considered a forgone conclusion as an arduous political coup in Congress by the Truman Administration. The final chapter also offers a terrific summary of its impact on the present.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dean
  • 27-11-18

Thorough but conclusions drawn are muddled

Mr. Morey’s account is thorough and engaging. Some of his conclusions however seem a bit confused. At times he seems to set forth that Western Europe could have been stabilized and communist expansion have been prevented only with the Marshal plan, and without NATO, but then goes on to discuss how the Soviet Union was actively plotting the overthrow of western governments. Further he seems to argue that NATO’s expansion may be a cause of conflict with Russia, but then only sights examples of conflict which occur outside of the expanded NATO alliance, which actually supports that NATO expansion should have been more thorough and quicker. He hints that perhaps Russia would not interfere with its neighbors if only NATO would stay away, which goes against everything else in the book which supports that Russia will always attempt to influence and subjugate its neighbors unless a strong and unified force is in place to oppose it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • M. T. in S.C.
  • 15-04-18

Excellent history

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • Helen J. Porter
  • 11-04-18

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

3 people found this helpful