The idea of world leaders gathering in the midst of economic crisis is now familiar. But 1944's meeting at Bretton Woods was different. It was the only time countries agreed to overhaul the structure of the international monetary system. Their resulting system presided over the longest period of growth in history. Its demise decades later was at least partly responsible for the financial collapse of the 2000s.But what everyone has assumed to be a dry economic conference was in fact replete with drama. The delegates spent half the time at each other's throats and the other half drinking in the bar. All the while, war in Europe raged on.The heart of the conference was the love-hate relationship between John Maynard Keynes — the greatest economist of his day, who suffered a heart attack at the conference — and his American counterpart Harry Dexter White (later revealed to be passing information to Russian spies). Both were intent on creating a settlement which would prevent another war while at the same time defending their countries' interests.Drawing on unpublished accounts, diaries, and oral histories, The Summit describes the conference in stunning color and clarity. Written with exceptional verve and narrative pace, this is an extraordinary debut from a talented new historian.
Ed Conway is the economics editor of Sky News. Previously he was the economics editor of the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph. His appointment to this role, when only twenty-five, made him the youngest ever economics editor of a British national newspaper. He lives in London.