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The World Bank is assailed by critics of the left, right and center on grounds it is not effective, not accountable, not democratic or legitimate, and most threatening of all, not relevant in a global economy where private capital, production and ideas dominate. Yet the world needs a strong World Bank working with other international institutions to manage development and the related global challenges of the 21st century. Are the Bank's shortcomings exaggerated or potentially fatal? If potentially fatal, can this critical institution be rescued?

Rescuing the World Bank explores the answers to these questions. The first part of the book, The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank, is a report by a Center for Global Development (CGD) Working Group delivered to Paul Wolfowitz on his first day in office in June 2005. The second part comprises selected essays, many first presented at a CGD Symposium in the fall of 2005.

The Working Group members and essay authors represent a rich array of experience and views. CGD president Nancy Birdsall was co-chair of the Working Group and selected and edited the essays. Her view that the Bank is a crucial global institution but potentially at risk is widely--but not universally--shared by the Working Group members and the essay authors.

This provocative volume will be widely read and discussed by those who are actively grappling with how to strengthen the World Bank, by its many stakeholders, and by readers with a broad interest in development seeking a better understanding of this vital and complex institution as it struggles to adapt to the demands of the 21st century.