Revisiting Bretton Woods and the Origins of the IMF: Guardian Book Review by @RichardToye

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Richard Toye
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

You can read this book review article in its entirety at The GuardianRichard Toye is the author of The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches. To order The Summit for £20 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

During the second world war, the British and Americans led a bold effort to create a new international economic architecture, in the hope of ensuring future stability and peace. That they pulled it off, more or less successfully, was not so much a miracle as the product of a specific set of propitious historical circumstances. But they didn’t achieve it by being nice to each other. During the planning phase, that led to the crucial Bretton Woods conference of 1944, John Maynard Keynes, Britain’s key negotiator, contemptuously threw some draft minutes prepared by the Americans to the floor, declaring them “intolerable”. Harry Dexter White, Keynes’s opposite number, shot back: “We will try to produce something which Your Highness can understand.”

Such anecdotes help turn Ed Conway’s account of potentially dry events into highly readable history. Continue reading “Revisiting Bretton Woods and the Origins of the IMF: Guardian Book Review by @RichardToye”