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The World Health Organization’s successful campaign for the global eradication of smallpox was one of the most important historical events of the post-war era. Yet what accounts for its success among the many failures and disappointments of international development efforts during the post-war decades? Considering this question sheds new light on a number of central aspects of post-war international history, including the puzzle of superpower collaboration amid Cold War conflict, the evolving relations between the global North and South in a postcolonial era, and the changing role of international organizations in international society.
Professor Manela is a Professor of History at Harvard University, specialising in United States in the world and International History.