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As Dr. Sara Lorenzini points out in her new book Global Development: A Cold War History (Princeton University Press, 2019), the idea of economic...

As Dr. Sara Lorenzini points out in her new book Global Development: A Cold War History (Princeton University Press, 2019), the idea of economic development was a relatively novel one even as late as the 1940s. Much of the language of development was still being invented or refined by experts and policymakers. And yet, within a few decades, the idea of foreign aid for development had become a critical soft power tool for the United States, the Soviet Union, and the European powers during the Cold War. Newly independent states, meanwhile, articulated a need for development aid to help them overcome the impoverishing legacy of colonialism.

Dr. Lorenzini’s book charts the development of this idea beginning in the early middle of the twentieth century until the late 1980s, when the end of the Cold War took some of the impetus away from demands for development aid. In addition to showing how the superpowers and Europeans participated in development schemes, she pays close attention to the role of multinational organizations in trying to facilitate and coordinate these demands while granting a voice to those in the Global South seeking development. The book is a useful reminder to those that development as an idea is never uncomplicated, and that the support for development had powerful domestic roots in addition to its international connections.


Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.