The idea that a major reason for the success of the European reconstruction after 1 945 , compared to its failure after 1 9 1 8 , was that countries pursued more similar policies which were more easily harmonizable at the level of inter national agreement is unacceptable. The differences were not so wide, it is true , as after 1 9 1 8 , but they were far too wide to be accommodated in any agreement as comprehensive as Bretton Woods . In spite of similarities in their international situation the domestic objectives of economic policy in the separate nations could be very different, as they were for example between Britain and Italy . Seen at the national level western Europe was a bold patchwork of distinct national experiments . What was needed after the failure and collapse of the Bretton Woods agreements was a less comprehensive and a more painstaking and accurate construction of a system of international economic interdependence which built on the few interests which the national economies did have in common . This book explores the interconnections between them and tries to show how the nature of these interconnections determined the nature of the durable economic peace settlement which was eventually achieved and which shaped a new western Europe. But it has very little to say about how and why the separate national choices of domestic policy were made . The national foundations and walls of western Europe's house have held it in place every bit as much as its international roof. But defining the shape of the roof will , I hope, help others to explain how the foundations and walls were built .