The essays in this volume provide insights into why the treaty organization was formed, how it developed, and what it has contributed both to the security and to the integration of Europe. The authors examine NATO, not only as a defensive bulwark against a Soviet invasion of the West, but also as a strong and intricate webbing holding together the nations of Europe as well as binding them to the United States as guarantor of free world stability. NATO took away any need for competitive re-armament on the continent in the crucial period following recovery from World War II and, by reducing overall defence costs, made possible high rates of economic growth and large-scale improvements in public welfare during the 1950s. It also helped set the long process of European unification in motion. Yet, the new alliance also brought an unwelcome degree of American interference in the foreign policies of the member states and by the late 1950s had begun, in some measure, to outlive its usefulness. The book contributes to the re-examination now under way of NATO's role in the radically different post-Cold War world.