UNVANQUISHED by Boutros Boutros-Ghali

UNVANQUISHED

A U.S.-U.N. Saga
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The former secretary-general of the UN revisits his successes and failures in his single term of office (1992—96), with an emphasis on his always complex and often vexatious relationship with the US. Boutros-Ghali (Egypt’s Road to Jerusalem, 1997), an Egyptian scholar and diplomat, nearly 70 when he became the sixth secretary-general of the UN, had devoted his life to various international political endeavors. Although the US abstained in the vote that placed him in office, he enjoyed wide support among most other nations, especially those of the Third World. Unvanquished provides a behind-the-scenes look at the international crises that dominated the news in the early and mid-1990s: from elections in Cambodia and Haiti, to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, to the military debacle in Somalia, to the murder and starvation of tens of thousands of people in Rwanda, to the potential nuclear threat of North Korea, to the intractable problems with Iraq. Boutros-Ghali circled the globe in an indefatigable attempt to bring relief to the victims of oppression and war and economic disaster, to urge UN member nations to accept the new activist role he envisioned for the organization, and to attempt to remain neutral in the face of enormous contrary pressures. Boutros-Ghali occasionally reveals his legendary (and admitted) vanity (he lovingly describes his expensive collections of art and antiques, and reveals a fondness for tailored suits, fine wine, and exotic food), but his keen and troubling analysis of the relationship between the US and the UN eventually overpowers all else. In his eyes, the foreign policy of the US is chaotic, inconsistent, unpredictable, ultimately dangerous. And Secretary of State Madeline Albright, his principal antagonist, emerges as impulsive and vindictive, both insecure and arrogant, two-faced as Janus. Among the many compelling parts of this memoir are Boutros-Ghali’s accounts of the Albright-led attempt, ultimately successful, to deny him a second term. At times self-serving (like many memoirs), Unvanquished nonetheless presents a vivid, engaging self-portrait of a superb diplomat undone by politics.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50050-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999