Academic journal article The Historian

Foreign Aid and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman

Academic journal article The Historian

Foreign Aid and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman

Article excerpt

Foreign Aid and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman. Edited by Raymond H. Gesel bracht. (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2015. Pp. xvi, 327. $34.95.)

With the notable exceptions below, this is not a book for the general reader. It is, however, a gem for the specialist in the history of American foreign affairs, the presidency of Harry Truman, the Cold War, or presidential policy in general.

Foreign Aid resulted from a symposium in Key West (May 2012) and is the tenth in a series on the Truman administration from Truman State University. Any collection of writings from diverse authors almost assuredly will be somewhat uneven, but despite some overlap this one is remarkably coherent and consistently of high quality. Undoubtedly, this is attributable to the skill of editor Ray Geselbracht from the Harry Truman Presidential Library. He not only pulled the book together but also played a significant role in coordinating the symposium and thus in ensuring the quality of its participants, who became the book's authors. In addition to Geselbracht and former Senator Bob Graham, who supplied the foreword, the contributors include Michal Belknap, David Ekbladh, Mark Jacobson, Zachary Karazsia, Xiaobing Li, Stephen Macekura, Louis Picard, Amy Sayward, and Thomas Zeiler.

A consistent theme throughout the volume is the seminal nature of foreign aid as it emerged from the Truman administration in three distinct programs. The Marshall Plan is likely to overwhelm the others even in the memories of specialists, but these essays direct attention also to the importance of the far smaller Point Four program--which was "in many ways the most interesting of Truman's foreign aid programs," and the one for which Truman himself was especially enthusiastic--as well as to one that might not at first glance seem to fit as easily within the rubric of foreign aid, The Truman Doctrine (2). …

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