United Nations: A History Paperback – December 13, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Stanley Meisler tells the story of the United Nations, its promise and its problems, with clarity and authority. He brings to life the history of the world organization and [65 years] of America’s hopes for and frustration with the world government This is a definitive account of the United Nations for a general audience, told by a master.” Jim Hoagland, chief foreign correspondent, The Washington Post
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802145291
- ISBN-10 : 0802145299
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.25 x 8.75 inches
- Publisher : Grove Press; Second edition (December 13, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Meisler's book looks at the major events in the often tumultuous history of the United Nations. The U.N. first came into existence in 1945. It was established with the high hopes of trying to prevent war and seeking peaceful solutions to world conflict. These high hopes were immediately crushed as the Cold War started. Since both the United States and the Soviet Union had veto power in the Security Council, the U.N. was incapable of doing much if it affected either side in the Cold War, which much of the world was.
There were some bright spots. The U.N. was able to claim a moral victory in the Korean War. Although that was blighted slightly by the fact that the U.N. was only able to get involved because the Soviet Union was boycotting Security Council meetings at the time and the U.N. forces essentially became a tool of U.S. foreign policy. The U.N. was also involved in the Suez Crisis and helped bring it to a peaceful end.
Not all events were successes. The U.N. attempted to seek a peace in the Vietnam War, but was pushed aside. Peace only came through direct brokering between American and Vietnamese diplomats without the U.N. The U.N. also got heavily involved in a crisis in the Congo in the 1960s.
The reputation of the United Nations seriously fell during the 1970s and 1980s. With decolonization and independence movements sweeping the world, the U.N. General Assembly became proliferated by Third World governments. Large powers, such as the United States, lost influence. In fact, one observer in the book was quoted as saying the most influential country in the General Assembly during that period was probably Algeria.
After the Cold War ended around 1990, the United Nations was able to flex its muscles a little more in world events. The U.N. was an important player during the Persian Gulf War during 1990-91. The number of peacekeeping missions started to increase. The U.N. was not always as influential as it wanted to be, though. In 2003, the United States would invade Iraq. The invasion was never approved by the Security Council. Then Secretary-General Kofi Annan later called the action "illegal" under the U.N. Charter.
Besides the major events in United Nations history, the book also includes information on the eight men to have served as Secretary-General. The book looks at their basic biographical information, their rise to power and what led to their elections as Secretary-General, and at their style and influence at the U.N. and in world affairs.
I only really have two criticisms of the book. The first is that the book is often written from an American-centric point-of-view. Although it is not really surprising considering the influence the United States has had, a more neutral viewpoint would have been better. The other is that there is little information regarding the history of the U.N.'s more prominent agencies, like UNICEF. Most of the attention is given to the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It contains some of the most important world events the United Nations has been involved in since its inception and looks at some of the most prominent people to have worked there. I would recommend this book to those interested in the United Nations.
Meisler does an excellent job of identifying the successes and failures of the organization. This gives him great credibility because I've read another book on the organization that glossed over the structural weaknesses and occasional failed military interventions of the organization. The author is never afraid to address controversial topics, such as the connection of Kurt Waldheim with the Nazi Party.
Meisler is a supporter of the organization. He is a realist who celebrates the diplomatic successes of the representative body and gives constructive criticism of how the organization can be more effective and avoid the negative press of the detractors. I found this to be a well-organized with measured and highly credible analysis. I learned a lot about the history of the UN by reading this book. It was very enlightening and it was an easy read.