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Interventions: A Life in War and Peace [Kindle Edition]

Kofi Annan , Nader Mousavizadeh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

"[A] resolute, detailed, and unflinching review of [Annan’s] most difficult hours…No one ever came closer to being the voice of “we the peoples” and no one paid a higher price for it. The world still needs such a voice, but the next person who tries to fill that role will want to reflect long and hard on the lessons of this candid, courageous, and unsparing memoir." --Michael Ignatieff, The New York Review of Books

Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to a world still reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” proclaimed Annan, “we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further—we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations, or regions.” Yet within only a few years the world was more divided than ever—polarized by the American invasion of Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the escalating civil wars in Africa, and the rising influence of China.

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage. After forty years of service at the United Nations, Annan shares here his unique experiences during the terrorist attacks of September 11; the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the war between Israel, Hizbollah, and Lebanon; the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the geopolitical transformations following the end of the Cold War. With eloquence and unprecedented candor, Interventions finally reveals Annan’s unique role and unparalleled perspective on decades of global politics.

The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan’s descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world.

Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization’s missed opportunities and ongoing challenges—inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty. Yet Annan’s great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN’s founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity.

A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan’s Interventions is as much a memoir as a guide to world order—past, present, and future.

Editorial Reviews


"No one ever came closer to being the voice of “we the peoples” and no one paid a higher price for it. The world still needs such a voice, but the next person who tries to fill that role will want to reflect long and hard on the lessons of this candid, courageous, and unsparing memoir." --Michael Ignatieff, The New York Review of Books

“Avoiding the nebulous rhetoric of many political memoirs, Annan instead provides a peacemaker’s invaluable perspective on those crises as well as insight into the daunting challenges facing international diplomats in today’s strife-ridden world." --Booklist

[A] first-hand survey of efforts to attend to the world’s ills, recalling an alphabet of post-Cold War U.N. peace work from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.” --The Washington Post

“Written as part autobiography, part history lesson, [Interventions] is infused with Mr. Annan’s accounts of private encounters with world leaders.”  --Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

“[An] interesting memoir… The accounts related by Annan… are worth every minute spent reading them. Nobody alive can quite match what he has heard and seen. As a bonus, he names names of national rulers and less well-known diplomats. For readers who want to identify heroes and villains, the book provides plenty of material. … With his book as his legacy, perhaps [Annan] will inspire younger individuals to make inroads against  incredible cruelty around the world.” --Christian Science Monitor

“An insider's personal account based on lessons drawn from long experience.” --Kirkus

“In this thought-provoking new memoir, Kofi Annan describes the peaceful and more equitable world that is within our grasp, and offers his candid perspective on the challenges we must overcome to get there. Interventions is a powerful reminder that the United Nations still matters—and must continue to matter if we want our new century to be more free, peaceful and prosperous than the last.”
    --President William J. Clinton

“Kofi Annan has been a powerful voice for the poor and a tireless advocate for peace. As a catalyst for international security and human rights, Annan reminds us that we, as a global community, are more alike than different. His life’s work demonstrates what is possible when we focus on the universal values of equality, tolerance and human dignity.”
    --Bill Gates

“Kofi Annan is a great global leader of our time. This wonderful book gives the readers a lucid and enjoyable understanding of the kind of reasoning and commitment that has made Annan such a force for good in the troubled world in which we live.”
    --Amartya Sen

"Behind the velvet tones of Kofi Annan's dulcet Ghanaian voice, there's a fearsome and fearless iron will, intent on finding solutions to some of the world's biggest problems."

“An insightful and candid account of the most defining and complex conflicts and peace deals of the last decades of the 20th century intertwined with the vision and the life journey of one of the most outstanding global leaders of our times. Kofi Annan marks his footprint in history with leadership values in which truth, humility and dignity are the weaving threads.”
    -- Graça Machel, founder of the Graça Machel Trust

“Kofi Annan gives a candid, clear and thoughtful account of his successes and failures in one of the world’s most challenging and thankless jobs.”
    --Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of the Republic of Singapore

About the Author

Kofi Annan served as secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006—the first sub-Saharan African to hold the post and the first to emerge from the ranks of the U.N. staff. He lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2086 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594204209
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007T8RJNM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,187 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiddling while Rome burns... December 8, 2012
This is a book that everyone should read, voluntarily or not, just to see how incompetent, ineffectual and complacent our 'leaders' really are.

The book is well written, clearly laid out around a number of themes and obviously heartfelt. Kofi Annan himself is obviously a decent man, hard working, caring and diplomatic. But to what end? This book is a record of failure after failure, procrastination, buck-passing and extraordinary complacency; of societies riven by dictatorship and despotism while the UN agonises over methodology. A story of democratically elected leaders failing time and again to act in a way that would encourage improved security in the trouble spots of the world, failing to live up to promises on aid, failing to provide troops for peace-keeping missions, failing to do the one thing we pay them to do - that is, lead.

However good Annan's intentions may have been, even he can find very few successes to point to, and as head of an organisation with a $10 billion per annum budget and 44,000 staff (figures he gives himself) that's a fairly damning indictment of the UN and the international community in general. Drawing up policies and goals is one thing, living up to them quite another. But again and again Annan congratulates himself and the UN on simply coming up with a form of words or getting people round a table - the process is celebrated regardless of outcome.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Privilege to read this book September 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have rarely read a book more eloquently written while being highly accessible at the same time.
By giving us the opportunity to look at the recent history of wars and carefully brokered peace deals from inside the UN, I finally understand what I failed to grasp when atrocities were happening. It's one of those insightful books that are hard to put down. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan sheds light on the workings of the UN, especially the Security Council and the Peace Keeping Operations, without trying to conceal the failings. His candid way of explaining how and why peace operations failed, shows what a great and intelligent man he is.
I feel privileged to have read his memoir; without this book I would have never understood how 800.000 people could die in Rwanda without us being able to prevent it, or how the world could abandon Somalia. He explains history we all have been part of.

His book should be a must-read for AP history students and is highly recommended for all who want to understand recent wars from the inside. At the same time it's also a very informative read for those who otherwise aren't interested in the day to day activities of the UN. By reading this book your eyes are being opened.

I'm highlighting sentences while reading this book; there is so much I want to fully understand and remember. I highly recommend this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful read October 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There were a lot of questions that I had regarding world events that this book provided answers for. The answers are seemingly of a neutral point of view; which is also very helpful; specifically questions on Rwanda and Congo.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Blue October 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very accurate picture of what is going on at the United Nations. Annan is world class person interested in protecting all people on the planet. I would recommend this book to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A.J.
I received this book as a present and was perhaps prepared for a somewhat
long and half-boring (although surely interesting) read about world politics.
On the contrary, I found myself almost unable to put the book down, and
finished it in a few days. Kofi Annan strikes just the right balance between brevity and detail
to paint an illuminating picture of the world's main conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s,
and the forces that shaped their cause and outcomes.

I found the most interesting parts to be his description of the psychology driving
global leaders, from the importance of self-respect and dignity that motivate
many leaders (sometimes leading them to take disastrous decisions), to the (at first glance
inexplicable) reasons the Iraqi's did not cooperate with UN weapons inspectors
(one reason being Iraq's fear of Iran and Israel and wanting to maintain a
shadow of a doubt about having nuclear weapons to deter these neighbors).
Kofi Annan has obviously a great grasp of diplomacy and how a deep understanding of
human psychology is the only way to achieve agreements.

It was also refreshing to see that even the UN's general secretary views the structure of
the security council as a weird old relic from WWII that has to be changed.
Overall, it is a frank assessment of strength and weaknesses of the UN, successes and failures during his tenancy, and a good history recap of the last 20 years of world conflict (and their historical background).
Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace deserves any sacrifice. A wonderful book
This book remarks the importance of human life and dignity. It's also a sadly history of how to negotiate millions of lives with some of the most terrible tyrants ever existed.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars ... of writing difficult to read but the story is fine.
Style of writing difficult to read but the story is fine.
Published 5 months ago by GCA
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Approach to conflict resolution.
This is a great book, and I feel like I know Koffi Annan personally, for anyone who wants a life in diplomacy this is definitely a good guide. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Waddilove
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read on UN involvement in worlds conlicts
I recently bought this book as a Christmas present for my dad but after reading the prologue chapter, I ended purchasing the kindle version for myself! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Banquero
5.0 out of 5 stars Widens your horizon
Amazing book that helps understand the role of the UN and the world and its struggle from an international relations point of view. Greatly written.
Published 18 months ago by Melanie
4.0 out of 5 stars Diplomacy is hard work ... but it's the best chance for peace.
A little perspective to begin with: I had the opportunity to attend a private briefing by a Canadian ambassador to the United Nations about a year ago. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Read To Live / Live To Read
5.0 out of 5 stars A man blessed with courage and wisdom
For many many years I have admired Kofi Annan for his courage, steadfastness
and wisdom so when I saw he had written his book - I had to read it. Read more
Published 21 months ago by eagerstudent
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written but take some of the blame Mr Annan
I have studied political science, European Modern History, International Relations Theory, International Law etc, so I came to this book with considerable knowledge of what has... Read more
Published 22 months ago by C M Cotton
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful study of the UN
A very insightful study of the United Nations and its work through a turbulent period. Kofi Annan has been frank about the rational behind decisions and what he considers to be the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Excellent exposé. More of such work needed. Just can not put the book down....without re-gravitating toward it. Brilliant prose. Great storytelling. Needs more publicity.
Published on May 12, 2013 by Charles daCosta
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