The UN in Iraq

I’ve had a soft spot for Samantha Power ever since I was an early graduate student working on the history of modern genocide and ethnic conflict. Never mind that this redhead is both beautiful and captivating (note to Red: not a fetish). Her Pulitzer wasn’t for nothing: ‘A Problem From Hell’: American in the Age of Genocide (Basic Books, 2002) is one of the most important books available on the subject. A professor of public policy at Harvard who remains a practicing journalist, she writes with great clarity and style on some of the most gut-wrenching human rights and foreign policy issues of the day. So when she publishes something new, I perk up. She’s been promising a biography of the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s Envoy to Iraq  killed in 2003 in the attack on its Baghdad headquarters. The book, according to her Harvard bio, is forthcoming from Penguin Press sometime this year. The latest issue of The New Yorker is carrying what must be the teaser (as with her award-winning Atlantic Monthly article on the Rwanda genocide, "Bystanders to Genocide",  that preceded and featured in A Problem From Hell): "The Envoy: The United Nations’ Doomed Mission to Iraq". It’s a must read, written with her usual eye for human nuance and historical detail. Bravo – again.

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