At the end of World War Two, Britain, although impoverished, was a power that spanned the globe, while America was a nation withdrawing to look after its own affairs. All this was to change within a short space of time. A freakishly cold winter proved devastating for Europe and revealed Britain's fundamental weakness, while the Soviet Union, once an ally, began to emerge as a threatening expansionist power. The United States stepped in, first with economic help and then with defense aid, transforming itself into a world power. This is something for which neither the British nor the American people were prepared, and their leaders also had to struggle to come to terms with the rapid changes in the world. For six centuries Europe had been the dynamic centre of events and the principal source of the changes that had swept across the world. Now that centre moved across the Atlantic. "Picking Up the Reins" shows how this dramatic transfer of power came to pass: the British withdrawal from the Eastern Mediterranean which shocked the US Administration, the 'Truman Doctrine' that came in response, the Marshall Plan that changed Europe forever, pushed through after a struggle in Congress, and the series of momentous decisions that followed. As these events took place, British people endured privations as bad as any in the war, and France and Italy were swept by civil disturbances bordering on insurrection. The Soviet Union imposed its iron rule on Eastern Europe and the appeal of Communism was at its height. And all the world was reeling from the shock of the atomic bomb. At a time when American's role in the world is coming under increasing scrutiny, "Picking Up the Reins" is an acutely observed account of the beginnings of its assumption of the role of superpower. It tells in vivid and memorable detail the events in the years 1946 to 1949 that changed the world for ever, describing both the fears and fortunes of ordinary people and the extraordinary personalities who represented them.