Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations and the Rise of American Power

Parmar’s flawed but important study of the role of foundations in American foreign policy during the last 70 years brings needed attention to a subject that has not received nearly enough scrutiny. Parmar’s most valuable insight is that although foundations have often failed in their stated objectives of promoting democracy and reducing poverty in developing countries, they have succeeded in creating networks of scholars and activists who have helped recast global intellectual life in the pragmatic American mold. These networks, along with the globalization of the American university and nongovernmental organization models, are among the most striking and important aspects of the post–World War II world, and Parmar does well to highlight their rise. But his book is too polemic to provide a full account of the phenomena it investigates; worse, Parmar seems to think that Americans could have easily reduced poverty and made the world a utopia had they only been less interested in their nefarious networking agenda. Still, students of this important topic will appreciate this pioneering work.

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