Courtesy Reuters

What Jean Monnet Wrought

In This Review

Jean Monnet: Mémoires

By
, 1976
Purchase

Of all the public figures of twentieth-century Europe, Jean Monnet is one of the most sympathetic and inspiriting. He can justly be called a great man who, in a life guided by a pragmatic idealism, has done his best to heal the deep wounds which Europe has inflicted on itself and to place international relations on a basis of reason and the recognition of a common interest among nations. He has been called the founding father of the European Community, and, if not everything has turned out as he foresaw, that is the normal fate of political innovators.

The publication of M. Monnet's Mémoires is, therefore, something of an event - all the more so in that there is no very easily accessible record of his utterances and opinions. Despite his influence M. Monnet has remained a somewhat shadowy figure, and this book, with its forthcoming translation into English, should do much to make readers in other countries than France - particularly the younger ones - more aware of what he has achieved and how he has achieved it.

Jean Monnet's career has been a long and varied one, taking him from the family brandy business in Cognac - the one French town with a street called after the British nineteenth-century freetrader Cobden - to dealing with the supply of food for the Allies in London during the First World War and the purchase of arms for the British government from the United States in the Second. Between the wars he worked for the League of Nations and as an international banker. After 1945, he became the first Commissioner for the Plan for Modernization and Equipment of France, and founded an organization which he himself had suggested and which was to become an example of what can be done to modernize and strengthen a country's economy. Then came what is rightly called the Monnet Plan for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). After its acceptance by Adenauer and Schuman, M.

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