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The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J.M. Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The idea of world leaders gathering in the midst of economic crisis has become all too familiar. But the meeting at Bretton Woods in 1944 was different. It was the only time countries from around the world have agreed to overhaul the structure of the international monetary system. Against all odds, they were successful. The system they set up presided over the longest, str ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 15th 2015 by Pegasus Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Start your review of The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J.M. Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy
Firmly a new favorite in ... dare one say popular ... economics. The global monetary system is a topic hardly likely to produce a page-turner but Conway has written a social history that is never dull, rarely dismal, and yet honest and intelligent. Little wonder inspiration came while attending a course at Harvard. Keynes and White are the central antagonists; their triumphs and anxieties, the national jealousies, and the tragedy of errors that undermine and uphold the Bretton Woods system make ...more
Mal Warwick
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It’s unlikely that a general reader would pick up a book on economic history, and this one — with a bland main title and not one but two off-putting subtitles — would appear to be a work that only an economist could love. It’s not. The dramatic interplay of personalities that Ed Conway brings to light in The Summit is entertaining enough to please any devotee of serious historical fiction.

At its core, The Summit relates the stormy relationship between two towering personalities, John Maynard Key
Paul Myers
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Conway’s book is a fascinating tale about the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference that transformed the failed international economic order of the 1920s and 30s into the international economic system that was the engine of the post-World War II recovery and prosperity. Two intertwined narrative lines tell the story. One is of the rise of the two dueling personalities that dominated the conference, John Maynard Keynes of Britain and Harry Dexter White of the U.S. Treasury. The other is the historical ar ...more
Cherif Jazra
This was a fun book to read. The author has the perfect background of English major with a public policy masters which allows him to sketch the details of the 1944 Breton Woods story using a smooth and engaging prose. Many personal accounts of the men are drawn, and most particularly John Maynard Keynes, the most eclectic of the bunch. Famed economist thanks to his best selling book on the economic consequences of the First World War peace treaty, his interests were wide and his achievements gre ...more
Miebara Jato
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Ed Conway's The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J.M. Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy

The emergence of the American Dollar as the world's currency was not by accident. Prior to the three-week intense negotiations to set up the IMF and the World Bank to oversee an envisaged postwar world economy in 1944, the U.S. had established itself as the world's economic superpower. The emergence of the IMF and the World Bank which are jointly referred to as Bretton Woods in
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Sharing the below from another review because it was accurate and I felt similarly. High level, this was an interesting story of pre, during, and post-summit international monetary/economics. Monetary systems have evolved over time, from true gold standards, to the pseudo standard of BW (US linked to gold, other currencies linked to US), to true floating currencies. The book didn't go into great detail on this, but perhaps if the US hadn't spent so much in Vietnam (bad decisions) or instituted s ...more
Hina Tabassum Khatri
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was an interesting read.
Robert Fletcher
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Well written book on a pertinent and important topic

Money is of abiding interest when the talk is about spending it, who has it? What it might be like to be someone who has a lot of it. But thinking about it, it itself, is rare. This book provides a first class introduction to the business of making international monetary policy grounding its exposition in actual facts rather feather light sophistry, and explaining clearly its technical aspects. This it fleshes out with the remarkable characters
Shane Brownie
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating insight into the personalities, context, reasons and importance of the Bretton Woods agreement. Never since has our need to understand the importance of this event and multilaterlism been more important than it is today. I ensure all with an interest in multilaterlism to give it a read to put into context the challenges of today. In addition, it is at time hilarious!
Ian Colby
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Much better than I could have expected
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Conway combines biography with economic history to paint an intriguing portrait of the people, place, and processes the resulted in the Bretton Woods system.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Didn't look forward to reading this book as I thought it may cover too much detail in economics. Not that econ is a hard or dry subject, but the book was a selection of a WWII Book Club in which I am a member. Actually enjoyed the book, in lightly covered the field of economics, but went heavy on the personality characters, John Maynard Keynes of Britain and Harry Dexter White of the U.S. Treasury, and their battles to transform the failed international economic order of the 1920's and 30's into ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed listening to the audiobook "The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J.M.Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy" for it's historical perspective. I'd heard of Bretton Woods before, but wouldn't have been able to describe it's details to anyone. So learning a little more about the economic conference, it's purpose, the key players, especially British Economist John Maynard Keynes and American Harry Dexter White, was worthwhile. I also hadn't realized that the World Bank and the Internat ...more
Uwe Hook
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Conway, a British journalist, presents a balanced array of economic issues and human interest stories from a conference that Keynes termed “a monstrous monkeyhouse.” With more than 700 people in attendance, Bretton Woods was a circus with many sideshows. Conway describes how “the hierarchy in economic power between nations was complemented with a taxonomy of cocktail parties.” (The Chinese parties, writes Conway, “were the most decadent.”) One of the popular attractions for partiers was a magici ...more
Kristinn Valdimarsson
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Þetta er afar læsileg bók og þá er mikið sagt því alþjóðafjármál eru flókið viðfangsefni. Meginhluti bókarinnar fjallar um Bretton Woods samningalotuna árið 1944 sem leiddi stil stofnunar Alþjóðagjaldreyrissjóðsins og Alþjóðabankans (sem reyndar hafði lítið að gera fyrstu árin vegna Marshallaðstoðarinnar) og ekki síst mennina tvo sem voru lykilmenn í viðræðunum þ.e. Maynard Keynes og Harry Dexter White (sem kann að hafa verið sovéskur njósnari). Auk þess að fjalla um Bretton Woods fer höfundur y ...more
Fausto Betances
IMF and World Bank were both products of Bretton Woods.

In economics, the fiscal multiplier or spending multiplier (not to be confused with monetary multiplier) is the ratio of a change in national income to the change in government spending that causes it. More generally, the exogenous spending multiplier is the ratio of a change in national income to any autonomous change in spending (private investment spending, consumer spending, government spending, or spending by foreigners on th
Dan Cohen
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics

A good and enjoyable read, covering the background to the Bretton Woods conference, the conference itself, and the aftermath. The book focuses on the two leading characters - Harry White and JM Keynes - and provides interesting portraits of both. There are many good stories and enough economics (just) to make it intelligible. The book manages the feat of feeling weighty (in terms of subject matter) but light (easy to read) at the same time. It's not exactly riveting but it did hold my attention
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Conway’s formidably researched book at times loses the economic arguments in scene-setting and anecdotage but this study of the Bretton Woods Conference is eye-opening in revealing that it was American apparatchik (possibly literally) Harry Dexter White rather than John Maynard Keynes who was more influential in establishing the post-war economic world order.
Dasha Judge
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic, engaging read

This book is both lively and dense, a rare combination. It is intensely enjoyable and will definitely guide the reader toward further reading on an endlessly complicated subject.
Daniel Farabaugh
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good solid account of the Bretton Woods Summit. Does a good job balancing the reasons for the conference and the legacy.
Jim Blessing
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a very interesting read on the Bretton Woods conference during WW!!. The two main characters are John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White. Excellent analyses of these two men.
A great combination of economic history and historical portrait of two economists, Keynes and White.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
First half is slow going but second half is faster and more meaningful.
May 10, 2016 added it
Very insightful as to post WWII economic policies and personalities of international central banking
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lots of info in this book Amazing that all those people could decide anything but they and it lasted awhile. Both main characters White and Keynes had faults
Luka Hribernik
rated it really liked it
Sep 02, 2019
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Jul 12, 2016
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