In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War
  • David S. Painter
David C. Engerman, Nils Gilman, Mark H. Haefele, and Michael E. Latham , eds. Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003. 283 pp. $70.00 cloth; $19.95 paper.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States promoted the integration of Third World countries into the global economy and sought to keep these countries on the side of the West. U.S. leaders believed that secure access to the resources, markets, and labor of the Third World was crucial not only to Western recovery and prosperity, but also to containing Communism. After the Korean War and the stabilization of Cold War lines in Europe, the Third World became a key arena of East-West competition.

Staging Growth is an ambitious attempt by a talented group of scholars to analyze the impact of modernization theory on the Cold War. Linked by a common focus on how modernization theory interacted with Cold War concerns and local conditions, the essays discuss the origins of the theory, U.S. efforts to promote it, and its reception in such countries as Japan, South Korea, India, Portugal, and Mozambique. The volume even includes an essay on the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The King and I that illustrates the widespread acceptance of modernization ideology in Western popular culture.

The United States and its allies employed various means to secure the Third World, including military intervention, covert action, military and economic assistance, and political alliances. As the essays in Staging Growth make clear, modernization theory soon emerged as "a primary conceptual framework for thinking about US relations with the developing world," (p. 135). The promotion of modernization and development of the Third World along capitalist lines became an important element in U.S. foreign policy. Modernization theorists claimed that all societies developed along similar paths and that, through proper policies, the United States could help Third World countries alleviate and eventually eliminate conditions that allowed Communism to interrupt their progress toward self-sustained growth under liberal capitalism. Although modernization theory was eclipsed in the 1970s by other paradigms, many of its key tenets survived, and in the 1990s "modernization theory transformed itself . . . from an anti-Communist creed to an argument for globalization" (p. 74).

The essays are informative and provocative but because of space considerations are more suggestive than definitive. In almost every case, more supporting detail [End Page 137] would add greatly to the persuasiveness of the argument. Although the foreword claims that the authors examine "the evolution of modernization and development, both in theory and [in] practice" (p. xiii), the essays do not pay much attention to how modernization theory actually affected U.S. policies toward Third World countries. One of the main founders of modernization theory, economist Walt Whitman Rostow, held important positions in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and three of the essays deal in depth with Rostow and the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was based in the 1950s. The essays make clear that Rostow and his colleagues at CENIS, as well as other modernization theorists, were driven by a desire to provide an alternative to Communism. One of the book's contributors, Gregg Andrew Brazinsky, even claims that "Americans understood modernization as a concept that could control dissent, maintain order, and ensure stability" in Third World countries such as South Korea (p. 252). None of the essays, however, devotes much attention to the details of U.S. economic and military assistance programs in the Third World. In this regard, they miss the opportunity to build on and extend David Baldwin's classic study, Economic Development and American Foreign Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).

The authors have read widely, but most of the essays do not build systematically on the work of other scholars. For example, Michael Adas's essay, which is adapted from his book Machines as the Measure of Men (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), points out that many elements of modernization theory predated the Cold War. Although Adas briefly discusses U.S. colonial policies in the Philippines, Hawaii, and the...