Evocative history, including photographs, illustrations, and interviews, capturing the involvements and achievements of the United Nations.
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While published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, these two books are totally different in content and orientation. A Global Affair is an "unofficial" illustrated history of the organization, its agencies, and its triumphs and, more importantly, a tribute to the people?from top administrators to lowly staff photographers?who have contributed in some capacity to the U.N.'s first 50 years. Over 400 pictures adorn this book, and the text, while written by U.N. notables and personalities who have donated time and effort to various U.N. causes, is meant to supplement the pictures rather than vice versa. Short personal accounts are highly anecdotal and full of reminiscences, but they offer some of the most poignant human interest stories, recapturing these people's youth and the spirit of the times that made them join the U.N. adventure. Content is highly selective but, while generally upbeat, does not gloss over less successful U.N. endeavors. The overall feeling imparted here is that the U.N.'s half-century of existence has been turbulent yet somewhat successful in attempting to address the overwhelming health, nutritional, and basic human needs in many Third World countries. The book is a sober reminder of how much more there is for this agency to do on this planet. Looking squarely to the future, Safe Passage into the Twenty-First Century is based on a broad philosophical dialog held between Muller and Roche at the University of Peace in Costa Rica. The authors are eminently qualified to engage in this far-reaching discussion since they spent a great deal of their lives working with the U.N. or its specialized agencies. Strong proponents of internationalism, Muller and Roche concentrate on the four principles of the U.N. Charter: peace, equality, justice, and development. They eloquently point out the lack of shared global vision remaining since the end of the Cold War era. Occasionally, the authors' close identification with the U.N. have led them to make some rather over-optimistic assessments regarding the U.N.'s effectiveness or impact in a particular matter. Muller and Roche see the U.N. as being best suited to analyze problems and generate solutions from a unique global perspective, and they shy away from discussing any inherent danger of world government or centralized authority. Furthermore, there is a clear spiritual undertone to the entire conversation that some readers may find distracting. While Muller and Roche's book should be welcomed by most academic libraries collecting actively in international organizations, A Global Affair will receive more favor from public libraries and some undergraduate collections. [See also "We Are the World? The UN at Fifty," LJ 10/1/95.?Ed.]?Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denve.
-?Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denver
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This slick observance of the United Nations' jubilee year supplies hundreds of photos, dozens of sidebar memories, an introduction by former undersecretary Brian Urquhart, and 15 chapters by reporters who have used the UN dateline. Intended as a human-interest tribute to UN personnel over the decades, this book by designers Janello and Jones, who have several solid albums to their credit (e.g. Golf: The Greatest Game, 1994), concentrates on UN offices from secretary-general down to the soldier in the blue helmet. Their writers summarize, variously, the UN's numerous humanitarian entities dedicated to refugee relief or health and environmental distress--all of which feature grim visual imagery. In the diplomatic sphere, the organization's raison d'etre, such topics as nuclear disarmament and decolonization predominate. Being celebratory, few of the UN's political embarrassments (such as branding Zionism as racism) or internal bureaucratic problems are even mentioned, let alone criticized; the UN still draws out the idealism of peace-yearning people, and this bounteous visual treasury reminds them of its peacekeeping successes and constant struggle against strife and misery. Gilbert Taylor
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