Interventions

A Life in War and Peace

By Kofi Annan; Nader Mousavizadeh
(Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594204203, 512pp.)

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

"[A] resolute, detailed, and unflinching review of [Annan’s] most difficult hours…No one ever came closer to being the voice of “we the peoples” and no one paid a higher price for it. The world still needs such a voice, but the next person who tries to fill that role will want to reflect long and hard on the lessons of this candid, courageous, and unsparing memoir." --Michael Ignatieff, The New York Review of Books

Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to a world still reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” proclaimed Annan, “we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further—we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations, or regions.” Yet within only a few years the world was more divided than ever—polarized by the American invasion of Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the escalating civil wars in Africa, and the rising influence of China.

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage. After forty years of service at the United Nations, Annan shares here his unique experiences during the terrorist attacks of September 11; the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the war between Israel, Hizbollah, and Lebanon; the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the geopolitical transformations following the end of the Cold War. With eloquence and unprecedented candor, Interventions finally reveals Annan’s unique role and unparalleled perspective on decades of global politics.

The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan’s descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world.

Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization’s missed opportunities and ongoing challenges—inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty. Yet Annan’s great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN’s founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity.

A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan’s Interventions is as much a memoir as a guide to world order—past, present, and future.




About the Author

KOFI ANNAN was the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations—serving two terms from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2006—and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff. Annan has served the United Nations in various capacities since 1962, including working as the under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations and the special representative of the secretary-general to the former Yugoslavia. Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan is the first sub-Saharan African to hold the post of secretary-general. In 2001, Kofi Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the citation praising Annan’s leadership for “bringing new life to the organization.”


NADER MOUSAVIZADEH is the chief executive officer of Oxford Analytica, a global analysis and advisory firm. Previously, Mousavizadeh served at the United Nations in the Office of the Secretary-General from 1997 to 2003 and was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. A Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Harvard College, he received his M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Sloan Fellow. He is a foreign affairs columnist for Reuters and the editor of The Black Book of Bosnia.




Praise For Interventions

A Washington Post 2012 Notable Work of Nonfiction

“Avoiding the nebulous rhetoric of many political memoirs, Annan instead provides a peacemaker’s invaluable perspective on those crises as well as insight into the daunting challenges facing international diplomats in today’s strife-ridden world." --Booklist

[A] first-hand survey of efforts to attend to the world’s ills, recalling an alphabet of post-Cold War U.N. peace work from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.” --The Washington Post

“Written as part autobiography, part history lesson, [Interventions] is infused with Mr. Annan’s accounts of private encounters with world leaders.”  --Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

“[An] interesting memoir… The accounts related by Annan… are worth every minute spent reading them. Nobody alive can quite match what he has heard and seen. As a bonus, he names names of national rulers and less well-known diplomats. For readers who want to identify heroes and villains, the book provides plenty of material. … With his book as his legacy, perhaps [Annan] will inspire younger individuals to make inroads against  incredible cruelty around the world.” --Christian Science Monitor

“An insider's personal account based on lessons drawn from long experience.” --Kirkus

“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.”
    --President William J. Clinton

“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

“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

"Behind the velvet tones of Kofi Annan's dulcet Ghanaian voice, there's a fearsome and fearless iron will, intent on finding solutions to some of the world's biggest problems."
    --Bono

“An insightful and candid account of the most defining and complex conflicts and peace deals of the last decades of the 20th century intertwined with the vision and the life journey of one of the most outstanding global leaders of our times. Kofi Annan marks his footprint in history with leadership values in which truth, humility and dignity are the weaving threads.”
    -- Graça Machel, founder of the Graça Machel Trust

“Kofi Annan gives a candid, clear and thoughtful account of his successes and failures in one of the world’s most challenging and thankless jobs.”
    --Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of the Republic of Singapore

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