Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War

Stanley Meisler on Dutch radio

When Harvey Rice, president of Macalester College, introduced a young African student to his new classmates in 1959, he urged the Americans to get to know this young man, who was destined for a lifetime of great accomplishment and would be a world leader some day. Despite the eerie accuracy of Rice's prediction, however, Kofi Annan's path to destiny was anything but direct.

In Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War, former Los Angeles Times foreign and diplomatic correspondent Stanley Meisler traces Annan's very unconventional rise from optimistic student to striving personnel and budget specialist in the United Nations bureaucracy to full-time manager of the world's crises.

Drawing on personal interviews with Annan, as well as numerous friends, U.N. colleagues, diplomats, and world leaders, Meisler examines Annan's entrance onto the world stage from his emergence as an astute and disarmingly frank negotiator during the lead-up to the first Gulf War. He also reviews Annan's tenure as head of U.N. Peacekeeping, where he supervised dozens of operations and launched a campaign to make U.N. peacekeeping efforts more professional.

Meisler presents a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of Annan's "non-campaign" for United Nations secretary-general, including the role of U.S. ambassador Madeleine Albright, who vetoed the re-election of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Meisler's analysis of Annan's ten years in office examines such major events as the U.N. interventions in Kosovo and East Timor, W.M.D. inspections in Iraq, and Annan's failed attempts to forestall the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This unauthorized biography also delves into the events that threatened to destroy Annan's credibility and devalue his many accomplishments — the involvement of his son, Kojo, in the Iraq oil for food scandal.

Rarely does a prominent world figure cooperate with a biographer who offers no say over the book's contents, no prepublication examination of the manuscript, and no guarantee that the final product will present its subject in a positive light. Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War presents a unique portrait of this widely admired leader — with his own view of events tempered and augmented by those of his allies and opponents, defenders and detractors. It is a must-read for anyone interested in diplomacy, international affairs, war and peace, and the daunting task of saving the world from the ravages of war.

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War is available at bookstores...

Amazon.com (USA), Amazon.ca (Canada), Amazon.de (Germany), Amazon.fr (France)

paperback isbn: 0470281693
hardcover isbn: 0471787442
kindle edition: B00DNKY9II

search inside Stanley Meisler's biography of Kofi Annan

search inside the book

see also: United Nations : A History


"Stanley Meisler, an old and steady hand at the U.N., has written a readable, wise, balanced, and most thoughtful biography of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The focus is on his victories and defeats as secretary-general and on his problems and challenges and how he faced them. Stanley looks at the charges against him as well as his undoubted contributions and calls it as he sees it. This book is essential for anyone who wants to understand Kofi Annan's contribution to the 'house' as well as the genesis and exodus of the attacks against him."
Thomas R. Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former undersecretary of state

"Stanley Meisler is a great reporter—this is a wonderfully observed and beautifully written book. It is the definitive portrait of Kofi Annan's calm and dedicated leadership of the United Nations at a time of huge international turmoil."
William Shawcross, author of Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords, and a World of Endless Conflict

"Kofi Annan is one of the world's most compelling figures. This is both an absorbing biography of a remarkable man and a fast-paced history of the United Nations at the opening of a new century. Stanley Meisler has made the U.N. story come alive as a flesh-and-blood drama of outsized egos clashing over high-stakes issues."
Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times

"[This is] a revealing and timely portrait of a remarkable man who has helped shape the first years of the twenty-first century. After finishing Stanley Meisler's book, my only regret is that Kofi Annan isn't running for president of the United States. He'd have my vote in a heartbeat."
David Lamb, author of The Africans

"Stanley Meisler is one of America's most knowledgeable and entertaining writers about the United Nations and its history. Now, he gives us an authoritative, highly readable account of the career of Kofi Annan, from his days as a young Ghanian student at MIT to his tenure at the United Nations. The book covers Annan's successes and his notable failures, from Rwanda to, especially, Iraq. Through Annan's career, Meisler narrates the story of how both the Clinton administration and the George W. Bush administration have used the United Nations as a political scapegoat. This is, in a sense, a biography of a tragedy."
James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet and the author-in-residence at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.

"Meisler's book is comprehensive and well-written, a good professional job in the traditional reporter's mode...anyone genuinely interested in the affairs of this all-important world body, ultimate guarantor of peace and stability, should definitely read it.""Assessing Annan", Book Review, The Irish Times, 21 April 2007
Deaglan de Breadun, Political Correspondent of The Irish Times, has reported on the UN for many years. He is the author of The Far Side of Revenge: Making Peace in Northern Ireland

"Meisler has written an excellent, informative book serving not only as a biography, but also as a well written review of contemporary international relations surrounding the U.N."
Jon Ebeling, PeaceCorpsWriters.org

listen to Stanley Meisler discuss the legacy of Kofi Annan:
The Bob Edwards Show (XM) - January 17, 2007 (radio)
Straight Talk Africa (VOA) - December 20, 2006 (tv & radio)
The Diane Rehm Show (WAMU) - December 12, 2006 (radio)

read interview on International Affairs Forum - February 27, 2007


available in Spanish - en español (Amazon.es):


ISBN: 9788496693074

see also: "Kofi Annan, de Ruanda a Irak", EL PAÍS, November 5, 2006

available in Dutch - in het Nederlands :

ISBN: 9789021506746

listen to Stanley Meisler on Dutch radio [mp3], BNR Nieuwsradio, December 11, 2006

available in Danish - i Dansk :

Kofi Annan - fredens mand i en verden af krig

ISBN: 9788792121080

available in Chinese - 中文 :


via Amazon.cn (in China): 安南传
or via Amazon.com


ISBN: 9787508607702

available in Arabic - بالعربيه :

كوفي أنان: رجل سلام في عالم من الحروب

كوفي أنان: رجل سلام في عالم من الحروب
ISBN: 9789953880570


Launch of "Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War"
UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Stanley Meisler, author of the book "Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War", speaks at the special book signing ceremony, at United Nations Headquarters in New York. (27 December 2006)
source: United Nations Photo

"Kofi Annan and the Future of the United Nations"


Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dies at 80
Kofi Annan of Ghana, whose popular and influential reign as secretary general of the United Nations was marred by White House anger at his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s, died Aug. 18 at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland. He was 80. The death was announced by the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation. The cause was not immediately disclosed. Current U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called Mr. Annan “a guiding force for good,” and added: “He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world.” Mr. Annan, who pronounced his last name ANN-un to rhyme with “cannon,” shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize with the international body he led from 1997 to 2006. He owed his original triumph and his later turmoil to tense relations with the United States, but in some ways, he was an accidental secretary general...
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It works well. Tweak it.
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Man in the Middle: Travels with Kofi Annan
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Kofi Annan and the Nobel Peace Prize
News Commentary - October 30, 2001

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listen to Stanley Meisler discuss the United Nations
National Public Radio (NPR) - December 11, 1996

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News Commentary - October 18, 1996

800+ United Nations related articles by Stanley Meisler
Los Angeles Times Archives - 1985 to present