This book provides a comprehensive overview of some key developments in the understanding of the nucleon-nucleon interaction and nuclear many-body theory. The main problems at the level of meson exchange physics have been solved, and we have an effective field theory using a phenomenological interaction pioneered by Achim Schwenk and Scott Bogner, which is nearly universally accepted as a unique low-momentum interaction that includes all experimental data to date. This understanding is based on a multi-step development in which different scientific insights and a wide range of physical and mathematical methodologies fed into each other. It is best appreciated by looking at the different 'steps along the way', starting with the pioneering work of Brueckner and his collaborators that was just as necessary and important as the insightful masterly improvements to Brueckner's theory by Hans Bethe and his students. Moving on from there, the off-shell effects that bedeviled Bethe's work - which had resulted in the 1963 Reference Spectrum Method - were treated relatively accurately by introducing an energy gap between initial bound states and an intermediate state. With their influential 1967 paper, Brown and Kuo prepared the effective field theory. Later, the introduction of 'Brown-Rho scaling' deepened understanding of saturation in the many-body system and fed directly into recent work on carbon-14 dating.