The Best Made Plans: Robert R. Nathan and 20th Century Liberalism

One of our biographies, The Best Made Plans is the story of an economist who played pivotal roles in the New Deal, World War II, postwar economic development, and the growth of the consulting profession. Services included:

  • Oral history consulting
  • Research in corporate and archival records
  • Scholarly writing and documentation
  • Production oversight


Economist and political activist Robert R. Nathan always hoped to write an autobiography, but never got around to it. His consulting firm Nathan Associates commissioned this biography ten years after his death. The firm wanted a book that people would want to read that met its own high standards.


An academically trained historian of American political history, Dr. Durr was highly qualified to write the biography. He began with a search for articles written by and about Nathan. Then Dr. Durr worked through Nathan’s personal papers at Nathan Associates, the Cornell University Archives, and the Library of Congress. He also reviewed archives of the government agencies Nathan served in, and papers of U.S. Presidents he served under. Finally, Dr. Durr conducted oral history interviews with colleagues from long-ago political campaigns, employees of Nathan Associates, and Nathan’s widow. The resulting story of Nathan’s many projects and pursuits provides a solid account of the evolution of development economics. It also traces the path of Democratic Liberalism during the 20th century.

Dr. Durr oversaw production, and the biographies were distributed at the celebration of the Nathan Associates 50th anniversary in 2013. “I call this the ‘real history of economic thought’” wrote economist Tyler Cowen. “It’s a splendid look at twentieth century economics as it actually influenced the world, without centering the story on academia.”

Project Specifications

  • 6″ x 9″
  • 336 pages
  • Case bound
  • Black and white with photographs
  • With endnotes, bibliography, and index
  • Full color dust jacket with film laminate
  • Cloth cover with foil stamp