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Concrete RevolutionLarge Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation$
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Christopher Sneddon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226284316

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226284453.001.0001

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Building a “World-Wide Fraternity”

Building a “World-Wide Fraternity”

The Bureau, China, and John Savage

(p.28) Two Building a “World-Wide Fraternity”
Concrete Revolution

Christopher Sneddon

University of Chicago Press

Beginning in the 1930s, the Bureau of Reclamation received increasing requests from abroad for technical assistance, and a great deal of this support became focused on the activities of a small group of notable personages. A key section of this chapter examines the use of technical assistance by the US government as a tool of empire building during the pre-development era through an examination of the life and work of John L. (“Jack”) Savage. Fresh from pioneering efforts as Chief Design Engineer on the Hoover Dam in the western United States, Savage served in his later career as an engineering consultant for numerous foreign governments. Savage’s consultancies and travels were approved and carefully monitored by US foreign policy officials, in particular in China during the critical years of 1943-1945. Using Savage’s experiences as a template, the Bureau of Reclamation launched its Foreign Activities Office in 1950 as a response to Truman’s call to aid the world’s underdeveloped regions. Savage embodied what would later become a familiar icon of the post-World War II era—the ‘development expert’ offering crucial technical advice to newly independent nation-states in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Keywords:   Bureau of Reclamation, China, communism, development, geopolitics, John L. Savage, Yangtze Gorge

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