MEMOIRS by Jean Monnet
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MEMOIRS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When, in 1976, the European Council declared Jean Monnet ""Honorary Citizen of Europe,"" it was the symbolic denouement of a career that had reached its climax with the creation of the European Economic Community. Monnet was well situated by birth for the role he would play in history; as the eldest son of a brandy-making family in Cognac, he was oriented very early toward international trade, traveling extensively in the early 1900s to find foreign markets for the Monnet label. From his memoirs, it is clear that he never developed a sense of nationality, a rarity for a Frenchman--there was Cognac and then the world, with Paris a mere stopover. Monnet helped consolidate Allied shipping in World War I, was a member of the Secretariat of the League of Nations, made, lost, and made fortunes as an international investment banker between the wars, and coordinated Allied weapons production before the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, he was one of the architects of the abortive plan to unite Britain and France into a single political entity aimed at keeping France in the war against Germany. Today, this first attempt at trans-national citizenship is limping along toward the European Parliament, as doubtful of success as ever. But Monnet's great achievement is his contribution to European economic unity, first with the Schuman Plan to share the Saar's resources, and later the EEC itself. Monnet has worked with or for virtually every major Western political figure since World War I, from Wilson to DeGaulle and Churchill to Brandt, and traveled between countries as readily as others travel by subway. Curiously, his pragmatism and astute sense for international economics lack a political dimension--the great struggles of left and right that have marked Europe's history are seen by Monnet as misunderstandings or simply as impediments to unity. His lack of national sensitivity helped to place him above the ""petty"" concerns of domestic politics, but also blinded him to that dimension of political experience. On their own, however, these memoirs chronicle a remarkable career.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday