Today Washington is reassessing the purpose and role of foreign aid. The consensus is that it has been very much an instrument of national policy. In the United States, foreign aid has usually been justified on national security grounds. Lumsdaine has a more benign view, arguing that donors have been motivated less by political and economic interests than by humanitarian ones. How refreshing! He rejects the realist explanation by marshaling an impressive amount of data and analysis on international aid efforts over a 40-year span. This work is both an interpretation of the international system and a study of aid programs for the Third World. On the latter score alone it merits a close reading.