The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order

Benn Steil

Book cover

I can’t say that I got much out of this book. It wasn’t clear to me exactly where the author was trying to go with it. It certainly covers too much ground to be just a history of Bretton Woods. At times it seems like a book about Harry Dexter White, but it also ranges pretty far away from that subject at times. My feeling is that the book was basically supposed to be about HDW, but with a lot of Keynes and other stuff thrown in to make it seem more exciting. Neither HDW nor any other player is portrayed with sufficient artistry to make them into compelling characters. I suppose I learned a fair amount about what happened at Bretton Woods, but none of it really grabbed me. The main interesting fact I took away from the book is that the tradition of a European heading the IMF and an American heading the World Bank came from the fact that people didn’t want HDW running the IMF (too much of a Communist).

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars