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Interventions: A Life in War and Peace Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846142970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846142970
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A fluent, compelling account... clear-eyed and honest... Annan emerges as an effective and charismatic embodiment of the UN's ideals (The Times)

A taut and timely memoir... Annan and his co-author, Nader Mousavizadeh, a former aide, embody the UN at its idealistic and yet level-headed best (Alec Russell Financial Times)

Annan doesn't shy away from admitting that he made mistakes, or that the UN needs to reform its outdated administrative structures. Yet he mounts a passionate, impressive defence of the organisation... The UN may be imperfect, but this powerful memoir shows that it is vital (Ian Critchley Sunday Times)

In this thought-provoking new memoir, Kofi Annan describes the peaceful and more equitable world that is within our grasp, and offers his candid perspective on the challenges we must overcome to get there. Interventions is a powerful reminder that the United Nations still matters - and must continue to matter if we want our new century to be more free, peaceful and prosperous than the last (Bill Clinton)

Kofi Annan is a great global leader of our time. This wonderful book gives the readers a lucid and enjoyable understanding of the kind of reasoning and commitment that has made Annan such a force for good in the troubled world in which we live. (Amartya Sen)

Kofi Annan has been a powerful voice for the poor and a tireless advocate for peace. As a catalyst for international security and human rights, Annan reminds us that we, as a global community, are more alike than different. His life's work demonstrates what is possible when we focus on the universal values of equality, tolerance and human dignity (Bill Gates)

Written as part autobiography, part history lesson, [Interventions] is infused with Mr. Annan's accounts of private encounters with world leaders (The New York Times)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Smith on 20 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My guess is this one of those weighty coffee table books with a buying to reading ratio of about 5:1. In this regard, it shares some noble company with other autobiographies of the great and good. Which is a profound shame. For about half way though this book, suspicion that this is yet another attempt to (re)write history lest future historians take a less positive view of this multilateral era, gives way to a growing admiration of a man who faces an impossible task. For the exercise of leadership requires followership, and the position of Secretary-General is more secretary than general; more servant than master. So it with increasing respect that I read of his attempts to steer a course through the messy politics of what many regard as the anachronism of the UN Security Council.

I am also exercised by the political imperative to engage with leaders who seem set on destruction of their own people, and/or rape their countries in the odious pursuit of personal wealth. Yet he demonstrates that to engage is not to condone. And his honest admission that UN diplomacy is rarely successful yet rarely wasted provides a reality check for those who seek a more ideologically pure role for the UN.

These are lessons that become clearer towards the end of 'Interventions', and I confess that I only truly began to appreciate this book - and this man - when I reached chapters 7 and 8, addressing wars and conflict in the Middle East and Iraq.

As with many books which attempt to provide a brief summary of events, the narrative becomes somewhat simplistic at times; on numerous occasions he uses the phrase, "I decided...", which surely belies the complex process of consultation required, and perhaps plays down the contribution of many who surely provided advice and ideas.

But this is a sobering and important read. And a fascinating insight into the world of the UN in the 21st century.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Meynell VINE VOICE on 7 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's no disputing Kofi Annan's political stature or integrity of purpose. Nor can the challenges of his 10 years in one of the hardest jobs in politics be underestimated. I imagine that being UN Secretary-General is akin to being Archbishop of Canterbury - you are neither president nor pope, and so any effect you might have depends on the canny use of influence, impartiality and persuasion, rather than actual constitutional power. I can't even begin to imagine how frustrating and difficult the job must be, let alone doing it for so long.

That said, if Annan is to be believed from this account, there were some encouraging achievements from his time (East Timor independence from Indonesia, Kenya negotiations) despite the many debacles (eg Iraq War, Rwanda genocide while he was director of peace keeping). At times this book feels more like a case for the defence than anything else (but then perhaps all political memoirs are like that?). We certainly don't really get to know him as a man - there are precious hints of his upbringing (his father sounds a fascinating and remarkable person in his own right), little chinks of light into his own family. For instance, it would be fascinating to hear more about his Swedish second wife, Nane, who it transpires is the niece of the renowned Raoul Wallenberg (who rescued scores of Jews from the Holocaust), p258. So the book's subtitle seems a little misleading. "A life in war and peace" suggests something more autobiographical - instead what we get is more an account of "a career in war and peace". For all that, this book offers a fascinating window into closed rooms and private discussions.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a book that everyone should read, voluntarily or not, just to see how incompetent, ineffectual and complacent our 'leaders' really are.

The book is well written, clearly laid out around a number of themes and obviously heartfelt. Kofi Annan himself is obviously a decent man, hard working, caring and diplomatic. But to what end? This book is a record of failure after failure, procrastination, buck-passing and extraordinary complacency; of societies riven by dictatorship and despotism while the UN agonises over methodology. A story of democratically elected leaders failing time and again to act in a way that would encourage improved security in the trouble spots of the world, failing to live up to promises on aid, failing to provide troops for peace-keeping missions, failing to do the one thing we pay them to do - that is, lead.

However good Annan's intentions may have been, even he can find very few successes to point to, and as head of an organisation with a $10 billion per annum budget and 44,000 staff (figures he gives himself) that's a fairly damning indictment of the UN and the international community in general. Drawing up policies and goals is one thing, living up to them quite another. But again and again Annan congratulates himself and the UN on simply coming up with a form of words or getting people round a table - the process is celebrated regardless of outcome.
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