What Enabled Bretton Woods?

PRINCETON – The proximity of the 70th anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference, which established the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to historical anniversaries like the Allied landings in Normandy highlights just how ambitious its organizers were. Indeed, amid considerable tumult, the conference aimed to create a stable international monetary framework that could serve as a cornerstone of a peaceful global order. And it succeeded – at least for a while.

Bretton Woods retains a powerful fascination, with at least three recent books on the subject having achieved considerable commercial success. What makes an event in which a group of mostly men talk about money so intriguing?