This effort constitutes the most comprehensive and authoritative work to date on the history of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or the World Bank. Author-editors John Lewis, Richard Webb, and Devesh Kapur chronicle the evolution of this institution and offer insights into its successes, failures, and prospects for the future. The result of their intense labors is an invaluable resource for other researchers and a fascinating study in its own right.
The work is divided into two volumes. The first is organized thematically and examines the critical events and policy issues in the World Bank’s development over the last fifty years. Chapter topics include poverty alleviation, structural adjustment lending, environmental programs, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Development Association (IDA), and the evolution of the Bank as an institution. The second volume contains case studies written by experts with experience in the various regions in which the Bank operates. There are chapters on the Bank’s activities in Korea, Mexico, Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. Volume 2 also contains essays on the World Bank’s relationship with the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, and its partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
By special arrangement, the authors have had wide-ranging access to confidential documents at the World Bank, making this work a unique source of information on the internal workings of this critical institution. They have also drawn on extensive interviews with current and past Bank officials. Moreover, publication could not be more timely, coming as it does when many in the development community and in the U.S. Congress are questioning the Bank’s track record and even its reason for existence.
The World Bank: Its First Half Century will be of great interest not only to development practitioners but also to students of international relations, development economics, and global finance.
During the course of the project, John P. Lewis and Richard Webb were nonresident senior fellows, and Devesh Kapur was a program associate, in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution.