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The Birth of Development

How the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Health Organization Changed the World, 1945–1965

Diplomatic Studies, New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations, U.S. Foreign Relations


A comprehensive examination of economic globalization

Focused on the creation and evolution of post-1945 internationalist ideology, The Birth of Development highlights efforts to diffuse the destructive role of the nation-state in world affairs by constructing truly international organizations with global agendas—the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization. These organizations, and the men and women who worked for them, pioneered the advancement of the quality of life for all and established an ongoing obligation to promote worldwide economic development. As author Amy Staples reveals, the results of their efforts were mixed.

Grounded in archival research conducted in the archives of the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Health Organization, as well as in other archives in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, The Birth of Development provides a foundational understanding for many of today’s debates on economic globalization, especially those that involve the World Bank and World Trade Organization. Given the current role of international peacekeepers and multinational aid agencies, this story is timely and makes clear that the issues that confronted early postwar planners and reformers remain in many ways unsolved even today.

The Birth of Development is the only comparative study of these crucial architects of the theory and practice of economic development, and it contributes significantly to the ongoing effort to view the postwar period as more than simply an East-West Cold War. It breaks new ground conceptually and methodologically and will be a welcome addition to the literature in the fields of modern diplomatic history and international relations.

AuthorAmy L. S. Staples is an associate professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University.