JEAN MONNET by François Duchene


The First Statesman of Interdependence
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 Duchàne, Monnet's aide and a correspondent for The Economist, here sets out to chart the remarkable, if somewhat obscure, life of the architect of the European Community and also--a lesser-known fact--of America's wartime munitions effort. Monnet was one of those men who spend their lives forging contacts with the useful, the powerful, and the discreetly influential. Born into a prosperous family in Cognac in 1888, he acquired a merchant's internationalist outlook selling the region's eponymous brandy all over the world. Early in life, he felt at ease with the Anglo-Saxon world and believed that he could mediate between it and a suspicious France. His moment came in WW I, when he coordinated supply trains among the Allies. So began a long career of manipulating economic agreements between democracies, including a highly successful stint as munitions advisor in Washington during WW II. After the war, Adenauer and the German government turned to Monnet to negotiate a steel pact between the French and German cartels that would lay the basis for a lasting economic entente, allaying French fears of steel-based German militarism and market domination while preserving Germany's centuries-old tradition of steel manufacture. The result was the embryo of the European Economic Community, a vision that Monnet had harbored as early as 1943, when he and De Gaulle first discussed the shape of liberated Europe. Men like Monnet, according to Duchàne, were able to create the EEC because they were not politicians but enlightened technocrats--a breed with a bad name these days. As this book makes clear, however, technocrats can be a saving grace in periods of turmoil. This is not a very personal book; readers would be better advised to turn to Monnet's own memoirs. But it does reveal a complete and satisfying picture of a complex age of transition for Western Europe.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1994
ISBN: 0-393-03497-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1994