Interviews for The World Bank: Its First Half Century
In 1988, anticipating the 50th anniversary of the World Bank Group, William Diamond, whose career at the World Bank spanned from 1947 to 1978, proposed that an overall history of the World Bank’s first half century be prepared and both the WBG Archives and the oral history program be strengthened. Following this recommendation, the Bank contracted with Brookings Institution to write the history, which was published in two volumes as The World Bank: Its First Half Century (1997). John Lewis of Princeton University and Richard Webb from Peru were engaged as the principal authors, with Devesh Kapur later named as a co-author. As part of the research, the team conducted hundreds of interviews, including a series in Indonesia, Bangladesh, The Philippines, and India. They also interviewed the four living World Bank presidents - Robert S. McNamara, Alden W. Clausen, Barber B. Conable and Lewis Preston - providing the only interviews with these men that are held by the WBG Archives.
These interviews are not formal oral histories nor are they a systematic overview of the work of the person interviewed. At times the authors discuss the planned publication itself and the sources that should be consulted; at other times they talk about persons and publications extraneous to the Bank. Some interview tapes and transcripts begin and end abruptly. Each of the transcripts indicates which of the authors conducted the interview. Not all interviews were recorded, particularly those conducted during the first year of the team’s work, but notes of these interviews were prepared.