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5.0 out of 5 starsTREMENDOUSLY INFORMED -- AND INFORMATIVE
Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2012
A tremendously informative -- and informed -- overview of the United Nations system. This is an overview that emphasizes both the history and sprawling expanse of the UN as a checkered but inter-linked system. It avoids the journalistic fallacy of personalizing either the Office of Secretary General or the institution itself, and is rock-solid on important details and relevant problems. It accepts the UN as a necessary world institution without in any sense ignoring its yawning structural problems. Highly recommended. I will use it as the basic introductory text for my undergraduate "The Future of the United Nations" class at university. By the way, as the series title would suggest...it is pointedly concise. In an age of wasted Internet and Blog words...BRAVO!
4.0 out of 5 starsNice, short overview of the UN, its structure, and its actions
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2012
The title says it all -- this book's a short summary of the history behind the UN, the structure of the UN, the challenges facing it, and the avenues for future reform. It's a reasonably short read, although not quite one to breeze through, acronym-laden as it is (pretty much by necessity, given how the UN works).
As the author acknowledges, he's writing the book as a UN apologist. Yet at the same time, he doesn't hesitate to discuss the many times and ways the UN's fallen short of its original lofty goals. I tend to think it won't change many people's minds about the value or futility of the UN (it doesn't seem to have been written with an explicit goal of that sort), but at least it'll leave people better informed as to what the UN does and doesn't do, effectively and incompetently.
Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2013
This is by far the best book on the United Nations system. The author give us a an overview of the U.N.'s roots and the challenges the organization is facing today. I recommend it for everyone interested in U.N. It could be a little bit lager as a book however. The Oxford Uni Press could have given this gift to the reader.
5.0 out of 5 starsFantastically brilliant man, and a similarly brilliant book
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2015
Met the author while I was in Switzerland recently. Fantastically brilliant man, and a similarly brilliant book. Highly recommended for anyone going into international relations, or really for anyone interest in the UN for any reason ever! :)
5.0 out of 5 starsGreat clear introduction into the topic!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2013
I found this little book very easy to read and well written. The author clearly has extensive knowledge about the history of the UN and gives a good balanced point of view pointing out both the problems and benefits that come with the largest global organisation that ever existed!
I can at least claim an interest in that I have been inside The United Nations Headquarters, although only as a visitor much as one might do St Peter's or The Taj Mahal. That the Headquarters are on Manhattan Island really should be the clue that the U.N. is to America as The Delian League was to Athens, (though without those facets that are reserved for NATO) and both organisations had the same type of pretentions, notionally inclusive but merely serving the interests of the lead-power.
The U.N. is thus a reflection of American ideology, that is to say Enlightenment based and with all the delusions that come from that liberal belief. What it is not, despite any appearance to the contrary is Kantian World Peace. In short it is without teeth save in so far as facilitated by America (who conduct their show-trials at The Hague and impose their own financial disciplines via the World Bank and the WTO and the IMF).
On page 5 we are informed that the U.N. is the only really global organisation. What then of the Roman Catholic Church, The British Empire, FIFA or The Olympics? - and of course almost all multi-nationals, and N.G.O.s. Perhaps in the spirit of market competition there should be an alternative organisation attempting the same range of activities as the U.N. - and it has to be said that the E.U. seems on course to achieve that, but that would surely then lead to the problems the U.N. is supposed to suppress. Ultimately then the question - whose answer negates the U.N. - is who controls the U.N., a question which whenever put of any body has no adequate answer.
The cover of my copy is a somewhat darker and dramatic Philip Atkins painting. The book is well done so far as I can tell with somewhat thicker pages than usual for a vsi.