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The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat Hardcover – September 13, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The United Nations headquarters appears as a byzantine bureaucracy riddled with lazy staff, rampant sexual harassment, hectoring anti-Semitism and flagrant drug dealing in this contemptuous memoir. And worse: Sanjuan alleges that the U.N. library housed the largest KGB intelligence operation in America and hints darkly—with no apparent evidence—that the 9/11 attacks may have been plotted by Islamic jihadists at the U.N. Sanjuan served as policy planning director in the U.N. Secretariat, but his real job, he says, was to "spy" on the organization's inner workings for the Reagan and Bush administrations. It's hard to see how he accomplished either of these delicate assignments, given his bristling, bull-in-the-china-shop approach to the tasks. He loathes everyone at the U.N., from the "pusillanimous" former secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuellar to the security guard he upbraids for not saying "please," and he delights in verbatim accounts of the long dressings-down he metes out to those who step on his toes. "I used a very strong expletive with reference to the Soviet undersecretary-general's mother" pretty much sums up his attitude toward diplomatic niceties. The author delivers a lively, preening, sometimes eye-opening insider's account, but his obvious polemical intent and the enormous chip on his shoulder overshadow his critique of the U.N.'s failings. (Sept. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Like city hall, the UN employs only those with clout. Sanjuan's clout was then vice--president George H. W. Bush, who sponsored him in 1984 as an undersecretary-general; Sanjuan's real job was to spy on spies. Lest some object to such tawdry subversion of the UN, let them absorb his amusingly cynical account of his experiences in the Secretariat. Sanjuan found minds not occupied with world peace but rather with Jewish U.S. politicians; with denying Israel its quota of Secretariat slots; and with drug dealing in the diplomatically immune UN garage. "For me," Sanjuan writes, "it was the beginning of an anti-Semitic journey of ten years' duration." Besides the prejudice and its fellow traveler, inveighing against the iniquities of the U.S., Sanjuan found a bureaucratic wonderland of assistants and deputies whose first concern seemed to be keeping their jobs rather than brokering cease-fires. Who wants Ouagadougou when you've got Manhattan? However exaggerated its over-the-top effect, Sanjuan's memoir is being published amid enough scandalous news about the UN to lend it credence. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (September 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385513194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385513197
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,044,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I was much younger, I had a high regard for the United Nations. I liked their postage stamps. I thought that they did a good job with international tasks such as eliminating smallpox and at least a useful one with, say, Planned Parenthood.

Still, I had to notice that the UN was not very effective in times of conflict. Whether the conflicts were in Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, or Europe, the UN always seemed helpless at best. In 1974, when Arafat was applauded there, I began to have more serious doubts about how it was doing. And within a few years, the values of its postage stamps fell dramatically. For me, that was confirmation that the UN itself was of very low value. And since then, I've been in favor of getting rid of it. I think it is just too perverse to be of much help to the people of this planet. We could replace it by restricting ourselves to sets of bilateral agreements, or by creating ad hoc single-issue international organizations, issue by issue (to avoid building up too much esteem, which would permit their perversion). We could also have competing advice-giving organizations that could stand or fall on their own merits (poor ones would go out of business).

Well, just how bad is the UN? This book gives us an idea about the UN, and the Secretariat in particular. Incredibly, the Secretariat employs over 6000 people and costs over 2 billion dollars per year. And I may be biased, but I find it hard to believe that it serves any useful purpose at all.

Sanjuan describes the amount of Soviet influence and control in the Secretariat, which extended to, for example, the UN library. By the way, one of the few people the author has kind words for is the present US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.
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Format: Hardcover
Sanjuan has laid bare the anti-Americanism, the incompetence and the tower of hypocrisy that has become the United Nations. Far from its original intent as an institution born out of the need to confront hatred and inhumanity, the UN now embodies those very evils. The Oil for Food scandal apparently is just the tip of the corruption iceberg. Thankfully Sanjuan's book is giving us the necessary specifics if any clean-up is going to take place.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yesterday, I finished The UN Gang by Pedro Sanjuan, a graduate of the prestigious Wofford College who served for a lengthy period of time at the UN headquarters in New York. I have always considered the UN to be an illegitimate terrorist organization. I am glad that Pedro Sanjuan, at least to some degree, agrees with me. He wrote this book with a good deal of humor and effectively describes the issues of the United Nations. Below is a summary.

1) During the Cold War, the UN was infiltrated with Soviet agents who used its library as well as other UN sources to effectively spy on the US.
2) There is much corruption in the UN. For example, to solicit business, private enterprises pay UN officials under the table for lucrative contracts.
3) Various of the global programs performed by the UN such as the Oil for Food have had funds stolen by UN officials, their business associates, or corrupt government members of other countries and the programs frequently don't benefit their intended recipients.
4) Much anti-semitism exists in the UN and both Jews and Israel are heavily discriminated against.
5) According to the author, the UN also serves as a place where terrorist sympathizers congregate to denounce and plot against their intended victims.

Although I recognize that all nonfiction books are to some degree one-sided, I enjoyed this one and learned a good deal from it.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd like to respond to some reviewer criticisms of The UN Gang.

Indeed, as noted in Publisher's Weekly, Sanjuan eludes to a possible connection between the 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings and intelligence gathering at the UN while giving no evidence to support this hypothesis. But should we scoff at this as the Publisher's Weekly reviewer does? Sanjuan demonstrates in his memoir that the UN's New York offices (off limit to U. S. law enforcement) were utilized as a huge intelligence gathering post for first the Soviet Union and afterward for Russia. He also shows a UN propensity toward coddling Islamists. Lastly he notes the importance intelligence played in targeting the buildings at their most vulnerable locations. Should we not be concerned about the possibility of the UN being a haven for hostile intelligence gathering and could this not have consequences for us in the future? If Sanjuan overstates the case for a 9/11 connection, he does it to call attention to an important and neglected security issue.

Another criticism worth addressing is Sanjuan's accusation of anti-Semitism regarding the transfer of the Chagall stained glass mural from the UN employee entrance. One thing that the critic above (A reader - New York City) does not address is that Sanjuan paraphrases the UN Secretary General as admonishing "that was not what the UN was about" after having the window moved from a prominent location in the employee entrance to a location in the visitor entrance. The implication is that the UN director felt the staff should not have to pass by a work of art by a Jewish artist. This is quite plausibly an instance of anti-Semitism.

Other claims in the book that seem worth noting have been neglected by reviewers.
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