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A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1st Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679463108
ISBN-10: 0679463100
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1947, in a world recently ripped apart by the Holocaust, a devastating war and mass displacement, the very idea of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights seemed both impossible and supremely necessary. As the specter of the Cold War loomed, a U.N. delegation, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, began writing what would become the world's first standard statement of human rights. Glendon, a professor of law at Harvard University, has written a compelling, at times thrilling account of how Roosevelt and her cohorts argued and cajoled one another through a series of intellectual, political and moral positions, finally hammering out a statement that was acceptable across national, religious and philosophical lines. While Glendon successfully traces the evolution of the documentAwhich was ratified on December 10, 1948, after six drafts and much debate by the U.N. General AssemblyAshe also presents a richly textured portrait of a woman driven to public service while simultaneously grieving for her late husband. Roosevelt's politics were also at issue: at one point, she resigned from the U.N. over the U.S. government's initial disapproval of the creation of Israel. Glendon concludes with a legal analysis of the declaration and a lengthy discussion of its applicability today, when many non-Western nations (such as China) claim that the concept of "universal" human rights precepts precludes an acceptance of cultural differences. Glendon's work is a welcome addition to the realm of international law and to the growing body of literature on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in modern politics. Agents, Lynn Chu and Glen Hartley, Writer's Representatives.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first formal statement of what the phrase human rights actually entailed. Glendon (law, Harvard) has written a legislative history of the Declaration covering both the negotiation process and the ratification debates and process during the years 1946-52. The book is based on extensive access to the diaries and unpublished memoirs of many of the participants as they worked with the horrors of World War II fresh in their minds and against the backdrop of the rapidly chilling Cold War. While the content and phrasing of the Declaration are the product of the many fine minds and strong personalities who worked on it, Eleanor Roosevelt is here given full credit for facilitating the process and steering the group to a final agreement that incorporated the best from many cultural and religious traditions. Recommended for academic libraries and broad Roosevelt collections.DMarcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (February 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679463100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679463108
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Purchaser on March 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Professor Glendon vividly and lucidly elaborates the people and events whose obscure work yielded perhaps the single most important document of the second half of the 20th Century.
For those of us who are privileged to live under the blanket of freedom, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights might not be understood to be the beacon of hope and freedom that is has become to many millions around the world who live in conditions of extraordinary disadvantage. This book is a gift in that it provides with a detailed narrative of the places, people, and events which conspired to deliver the UDHR at a moment in history when it was so desperately needed.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"A World Made New" isn't really about Eleanor Roosevelt, though she does have a big part in the story. Instead, the book chronicles the diplomacy that led to the 1948 adoption of the world's cornerstone human rights document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The book also analyses the Declaration's role in shaping a global "rights consciousness" that has slowly but surely had a big impact on international politics and state behavior. The writing is crisp, the story fascinating, and the legal explanations crystal-clear. It's a nifty, intelligent book.

The author is a Harvard law prof who wants to teach us how to think about human rights in the modern world. She has two key messages. First, criticism that the whole notion of human rights reflects a "Western bias" is misguided; countries from around the world negotiated the Declaration, and every major rights tradition is reflected in the text. Second, the range of rights embraced by the Declaration far exceeds traditional Anglo-American notions of limited government and individual freedoms; instead, the Declaration is built on concepts of human dignity and flourishing that cannot be realized without education, health care, workplace justice, and other social protections.

Editorial Comment: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has influenced constitutions and human rights laws all over the world, from South Africa and post-war Europe to emerging democracies in Latin America and the former USSR. However, it is almost unknown in the United States, despite our decisive role in its creation. Of course, Americans don't know their own Constitution, either. Given the low level of legal/rights literacy in America, it's no wonder that global human rights leadership has largely passed to other countries. A people who can't be roused by the disclosure of White House-sanctioned torture camps has no capacity to lead others on these issues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
A marvelous account of the formulation and development of the `Universal Declaration of Human Rights'.

It really had its gestation in 1941 during the Roosevelt - Churchill meeting at Placentia Bay, off Newfoundland, during the very dark days of World War II. At that stage the spread of German Nazism seemed unstoppable. The Atlantic Charter was made with `Roosevelt's freedoms' - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

One could say that the `Universal Declaration of Human Rights' is composed of these four main pillars.

The author gives us a history of the evolution of the `Universal Declaration of Human Rights' providing us with its' different draft forms. She also gives us excellent and vivid portrayals of the main protagonists involved. We can say they represent a wide range of humanity - Rene Cassin from France, Charles Malik from Lebanon, P.C. Chang from China, John P. Humphrey from Canada, Housa Meht from India and several others.

Orchestrating and pushing through this agenda was Eleanor Roosevelt. Her prestige, her boundless energy and her unique ability to encompass and empathize with humanity at large made her able to move this `Declaration' to approval at the U.N. General Assembly.
This was no small task.
It is indeed Eleanor Roosevelt's finest hour. It gives her a lasting legacy that mankind should remember for all time.

The author also gives a very readable description of the meaning of the Declaration - deciphering for us the battles to make it more readable and acceptable to all members of the various committees who participated in its' writing.

It was passed by the U.N. in 1948; only the Soviet bloc countries and Saudi Arabia abstained from voting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Melanie on September 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book on the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from a historical, political, as well as ethical perspective, and very well written. It shows the involvement of individuals from many countries, western and non-western, in the formation of this document and refutes the idea that "human rights" is strictly a western concept. I was in awe of Eleanor Roosevelt after reading the account of her multinational efforts, but also inspired by these other leaders who also made significant contributions to it's formation but who are now unknown to most.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Harmon VINE VOICE on April 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A splendid account of Eleanor Roosevelt after FDR's death, when she was the guiding force on the UN committee that crafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration is already a foundation to a body of international human-rights law, a foundation that has steadily grown in importance over the last half century. The book does justice to it, and to her.

The title is from her nightly prayer: "Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. ... Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new."

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