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George Woods and the World Bank

Robert W. Oliver
ISBN: 978-1-55587-503-9
1994/275 pages/LC: 94-8738

"This book is highly recommended to those who wish to read the story, as depicted through one man's life, of the World Bank's successes and failures in dealing with the problem of promoting economic development in the world....should promote discussion on how the bank can be a positive force in development in the future."—Journal of Developing Areas


Based on dozens of in-depth interviews, as well as the historical record, Robert Oliver has written a unique biography of George David Woods, who in 1963 became the fourth president of the World Bank.

George Woods transformed the World Bank from a relatively passive investment organization into an active leader of world development. He pushed for greatly increased lending in support of agriculture and education, worked closely with the United Nations, and revived and greatly strengthened economic analysis in the Bank itself. He also initiated measures to expand the equity investments of the International Finance Corporation and sought annual funding of one billion dollars for the International Development Association, the Bank's soft-loan affiliate. He retired in 1968 after inducing Robert McNamara to be his successor.

Oliver's lively biography offers not only a full picture of Woods and his pivotal contributions to the World Bank's development, but also reflects the changes that occurred in the 1960s within both the agency and the environment in which it functioned.


Robert W. Oliver's many publications in the area of international economics included International Economic Cooperation and the World Bank.


  • Foreword—Arthur Ochs Sulzberger.
  • Foreword—Andrew Kamarck.
  • George and Louise.
  • From Office Boy to Chairman of the Board.
  • Black's Bank.
  • A New President of the World Bank.
  • The Role of the Economists.
  • India.
  • The Wisdom of George Woods.
  • The Frustrations of George Woods.
  • The Grand Assize, McNamara, and Woods' Farewell.