Financial History Issue 127 (Fall 2018) - Page 37

BY JAMES P. PROUT   of course, was the critical battleground between the two sides. Steil goes deep into the thrust and parry between the USSR and United States in the vanquished and divided former Reich. General Lucius Clay—the tough talking Military Gover- nor of occupied West Germany—gets his due, as do others who orchestrated the famed Berlin Airlift. Although more modest and less open ended, the final legislation was signed in 1948, and Marshall aid flowed until 1952. This was accompanied by more “ener- getic” efforts to sway Europeans towards the United States, by influencing public opinion and complementing economic assistance with military support through NATO. Maybe it’s my inner nerd, but I wish Mr. Steil had gone more into detail on how Marshall Plan assistance was actu- ally delivered. We didn’t just hand the participating countries money or food or machinery. There is some discussion of the “counterpart funds” mechanism, but I wanted more on how capital forma- tion was reconstituted locally. I’ll grant Steil this small omission, since he answers every geeks wish with a cast of characters and nutshell biography of anyone who had anything to do with the story. Some- how, even Al Gore makes the cut. Over the years, the Marshall Plan has taken on talismanic qualities. If there is a problem, let’s do a Marshall Plan. The author recognizes this and asks: did it really work? On pure economic or finan- cial measurements, it’s not crystal clear that the Marshall Plan alone galvanized European economies. But the Plan had more complex ambitions, which com- bined America’s bent toward a peaceful Europe, a desire for healthy markets and a fundamental impulse against aggres- sive Russian Communism. On that level, the Plan was a resounding success. Steil’s book is, too.  James P. Prout is a lawyer with 30+ years of capital market experience. He is now a consultant to some of the world’s big- gest corporations. He can be reached at BOOK REVIEW WALL STREET WALKS Wall Street Walks takes visitors through the historic capital of world finance — the one-square-mile of downtown Manhattan known as “Wall Street.” Our visitors learn about people, places and events comprising over 200 years of history, as they walk among locations where it all happened. • Regular public tours daily, except Sunday. • Group and private tours available. Proud walking tour partner of the Museum of American Finance. CONTACT: 212-666-0175 (office) 212-209-3370 (ticket hotline)  |  Fall 2018  |  FINANCIAL HISTORY  35