In This Review

Global Development: A Cold War History
Global Development: A Cold War History
By Sara Lorenzini
Princeton University Press, 2019, 296 pp

The idea of encouraging development—that is, the notion that non-Western countries need to be helped along the path of economic and social advancement—emerged in the West during the Industrial Revolution and came of age during the Cold War. In this impressive history, Lorenzini traces the journey of development thinking from its nineteenth-century origins through its entanglements in the great geopolitical struggles of the twentieth century. Development became a front in the ideological battle of the Cold War, as the Soviet Union and the United States competed for hearts and minds in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Although U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” formulation paved the way for a distinctly American approach, the Truman administration played a pivotal role in turning development assistance into a tool of national security and geopolitical competition. Lorenzini argues that although the Soviet Union and the United States articulated their development policies in universal terms, their policies actually served parochial national purposes. The instrumental logic of development thinking remains alive and well today, as China, Russia, and the United States cultivate emerging economies around the world