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Memoirs by Jean Monnet


by Jean Monnet

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Jean Monnet's memoirs illuminate the foundation of the European community and show what a hard slog it was to promote the common interest in the face of traditional nationalism.

During the war he pushed for an unrealistic merger of Great Britain and France (yes, one country with two languages) and in post war Europe, a merger of France and Germany as a stepping stone to a United States of Europe. The U.S.E. was to function in a similar way to the U.S.A.

None of this got anywhere, but post WW2 Europe presented a very special situation as countries emerged from the ruins of nationalist Nazi violence. Governments thought more about cooperation than conflict, particularly with regard to rebuilding Germany in a safe European framework, and it was fortunate for Europe that Adenauer, the new German chancellor, saw and took the opportunity, stating to the Bundestag, "Let me make a point of declaring in so many words and in full agreement, not only with the French government but also with M. Jean Monnet, that the importance of this project is above all political and not economic,". A further vital step was a French and German agreement (guided by Monnet) to a Community based on equality rather than a balance of power, with the eventual result being the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 with Monnet himself as President and sovereign powers conceded by the the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The book shows Monnet to be a dogged opponent of nationalism, promoting a "level economic playing field" between European nations. He would have been delighted to see the Euro common currency, european anti-trust legislation, the removal of tariff barriers and the free movement of European people, but at the same time he would have regretted that a true United States of Europe was impossible.

Not an easy read but a very valuable book. ( )
  Miro | Nov 23, 2008 |
I was just re-reading the section about Monnet's three years in China ( 33-36) and I read on and on and couldn't stop reading except to check the fact that his Memoirs ( ses Mémoires et je m'adresse aux lecteurs de langue française!) are read by very few in Librarything. Monnet worked for the League of Nations, was an investment banker, negiotated with President Roosevelt in October 38, was an envoy of Churchill's to the U.S., headed the French 'Plan' from 46 and designed and put across the concept of a European Community with Germany firmly in the Western camp.
In World War I, as a very young man, he designed the idea of pooling certain Franco-British ressources and headed a joint authority ( 1914-18).
He met a beautiful Italian woman aged 20 who was married to a dinner guest of his. That was in 1929. They were married in Moscow in 1935. That's to give an example of the colourfulness of his life and also of his determination.
What strikes me most is Jean Monnet's method, his way of approaching things, his way of thinking, his belief in putting ideas across simply but perfectly and going for implementation. Also his network of friends internationally. He often writes "he was my friend" - though not necessarily agreeing with him ( very few women then in those circles!).
I have observed that Jacques Delors has been much influenced by Monnet's method and that he used simple words reflecting a considerable degree of decantation of his thought. ( Jacques Delors is inter alia the father of the Euro).
I would like lots of people to read Monnet. His is a life of adventure and his mind is a wise mind. He was one who thinks and he was a doer. ( )
1 vote lascaux | Mar 27, 2008 |
2750 Memoirs, by Jean Monnet translated from the French by Richard Mayne (read 28 May 1995) This book published in the U.S. in 1978 is the memoir of a man active in the League of Nations in the 1920's, helped DeGaulle and Giraud get together, worked on the modernization of France after World
War II, and then worked at creating the coal and steel community and the Common Market, and at federating Europe. He died in 1979. This was an extremely moving book and one cannot but believe he is one of the very greatest men of the 20th century. His closing chapters brought tears to my eyes, and how one wishes he could have seen the tremendous things which have occurred since his death! ( )
  Schmerguls | Mar 4, 2008 |
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