Jean Monnet

President Kennedy once remarked that, in just 20 years, Jean Monnet did more to unite Europe than a thousand years of conquerors. Monnet's vision transformed a whole Continent and forged an entirely new form of political governance. And yet throughout his kaleidoscopic career, the man dubbed "the founding father of the European Union" never held elected office.

Monnet started out in his father's cognac business. Success at coordinating supplies during World War I led to his nomination, at 31, as Deputy Secretary-General of the newly formed League of Nations. But high hopes of politicians setting aside...

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