With four new chapters, this updated edition completes the story of the UN’s last sixty-five years, its successes and turbulent past.
Beginning with the birth of the U.N., when Roosevelt, Stalin, Truman, and Gromyko set the stage, United Nations: A History brings us a cast of profoundly important and colorful international players: the brilliant Dag Hammarskj÷ld, who became the most daring, imaginative Secretary-General the U.N. ever had; Nikita Khrushchev, who electrified the General Assembly as he pounded his shoe in protest over Congo; Ralph Bunche, the grandson of a slave and "the Jackie Robinson of American diplomacy," who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his U.N. work in the Middle East; and U.S. ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who walked out of the General Assembly over the Third World's anti-Zion resolution. United Nations: A History is a story filled with action and heartbreak.
United Nations: A History begins with the creation of the organization in 1945. Although its aim was to prevent war, many conflicts have arisen, ranging from the Korean War to the Six-Day War, to genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. Stanley Meisler’s in-depth research examines the crises and many key political leaders. In this second edition, Meisler brings his popular history up to date with accounts of the power struggles of the last fifteen years, specifically spotlighting the terms of secretaries-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Kofi Annan, and Ban Ki-moon. This is an important, riveting, and impartial guide through the past and recent events of the sixty-five-year history of the United Nations.
United Nations: A History is available at the following booksellers...
paperback isbn: 0802145299
Atlantic Monthly Press (Grove/Atlantic)
"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 organisation and a half-century of
America's hopes for and frustration with world government.
Read the chapter on Katanga and you will see the U.N.'s
recent failure in Somalia foreshadowed. You will learn why
China is almost by chance one of five permanent members on
the Security Council, how the council's veto power was
adopted at Stalin's demand, why Adlai Stevenson left his post
as U.S. ambassador in lonely despair, how Kurt Waldheim hid
his past to become Secretary-General, how the Bush
administration maneuvered the United Nations into supporting
Operation Desert Storm and much, much more. This is the
definitive account of the United Nations for a general
audience, told by a master."
— Jim Hoagland, chief foreign correspondent, Washington Post
the ideological debates and instead offers a straightforward history. In an account
sprinkled with rich anecdotes and colorful portraits of figures like Dag Hammarskjold and Adlai Stevenson, Mr. Meisler tells the story
of interventions around the world, from the murky interludes in Congo and Somalia to the more clear-cut actions in Korea and the Persian Gulf. He repeatedly illustrates the limits of the organization's power, showing that it never fulfilled the hopes of its supporters or confirmed the fears of its detractors. But his account also debunks two widely held beliefs: that the United Nations was gridlocked and irrelevant through the cold war, and that it has been spectacularly incompetent since the cold war's end."
— David Callahan, New York Times Book Review
"A strikingly readable, accurate history of the UN's first half century.
[Meisler's] made the organization's relatively un-lionized heroes - such as Ralph Bunche, Dag Hammarskjold, and Brian Urquhart, inventors of global
peacekeeping - come alive... Meisler crisply escorts readers behind the scenes to witness the personal collisions, nobility, and foibles of major actors and bit players in many of the major crises of the nuclear age, global decolonization, and the cold war. And he traces in vivid personal terms the UN's fledgling attempts to spread care for children, preservation of the planetary environment, and protection of human rights worldwide. These are warts-and-all annals. Bureaucratic bumbling and clashing national ambitions are not overlooked."
— Earl Foell, former chief editorial writer, Christian Science Monitor
straightforward appraisal of the world's greatest attempt at
peace-making. Stan Meisler has the storyteller's gift for
important and rich detail that makes history come alive. An
extraordinarily interesting and informative book."
— Paul Duke, journalist and former moderator of Washington Week
"I laughed and cried at
this wonderful telling of the United States' love-hate
relationship with our most famous child, the United Nations.
It's a story Americans should read before it's too late - or
just because Stanley Meisler, one of the best foreign
correspondents we have, writes it so well."
— Richard Reeves, syndicated columnist and author
the start the United Nations, as Stanley Meisler shows in his recent book,
had to operate pragmatically on political assumptions very different from
those envisaged by its founders... Meisler rightly says, 'It could boast a
distinguished and action-packed history,' even if it was not what the
founders had in mind..." [complete
— Brian Urquhart, former Undersecretary General of the United Nations, The New York Review of Books
insightful, this book is a must for anyone who wants to
understand where the U.N. has been and, more importantly, how
we might best use its potential for the future."
— Thomas R. Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
“Meisler recounts an exciting story of the U.N.’s origins and agonies.
Using an engaging biographical technique, he focuses on the U.N.’s key
Blanche Wiesen Cook, Los Angeles Times Book Review
easy-to-read history of the UN with particular emphasis on
the great crises and on the personalities, strengths and
weaknesses of the Secretaries-General."
— Christopher Spencer, former senior advisor, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
"...as Stanley Meisler's
excellent political history of the UN underlines, America was largely
responsible for the UN's birth and, as the leading power in the Security
Council, is now partly responsible for its decline - and not just because it
does not pay its bills..."
— The Economist
"The Korean War. Suez. The Congo. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Six-Day War. The Persian Gulf War. Somalia. Rwanda. Bosnia. Meisler, who reports on foreign affairs and the United Nations for the Los Angeles Times, surveys 50 years of U.N. diplomatic triumphs and failures."
— Library Journal
"This lucid, popular
version of the first 50 years of UN history by former Los Angeles Times
foreign correspondent Meisler is organized around the various crises the UN
has faced since its inception: Israeli independence, Korea, Suez, the Congo,
Cuban missiles, Vietnam, the Six-Day War, the Gulf war and also includes
chapters on the various secretaries-general. Meisler doesn't pull any
punches in assessing the policies and personalities of the world
organization, excoriating former secretary-general Kurt Waldheim for
concealing his past ('it seems like a fortuitous metaphor for the United
Nations to be led during the 1970s by a Nazi and a liar'). Yet he is
fair-minded in his presentation, opining that 'Though cautious, [Waldheim]
was an adequate and active secretary general.' This up-to-date account
concludes with chapters detailing the UN's travails in the quagmires of
Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. A handy primer for those who want to know
the score but haven't taken the time to unravel the byzantine workings of
the world organization."
— Publishers Weekly
watch Stanley Meisler discuss the history of the United Nations on C-Span
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to Stanley Meisler discuss the United Nations
National Public Radio (NPR) - December 11, 1996
Getting Rid of
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900+ United Nations related articles by Stanley Meisler
Los Angeles Times Archives - 1985 to present
Hot Spots: Inside Look at the United Nations and Global Crises - Hot Spots is a primer of the United Nations in action, offering detailed descriptions of what it tries to do and how it succeeds and sometimes fails. There are snippets of famous scenes in U.N. history, including Adlai Stevenson's speech during the Cuban missile crisis. The CD-ROM also runs liberal excerpts from Stanley Meisler's United Nations: The First Fifty Years and other major sources of U.N. lore and history.
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