MAN WITHOUT A GUN by Giandomenico Picco


One Diplomat's Secret Struggle to Free the Hostages, Fight Terrorism, and End a War
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A fascinating behind-the scenes look at the United Nations in operation and at the life of a high-level diplomat. The author, a former UN staff member, focuses on his own career to show how the UN constantly juggles its language and its decisions to demonstrate its impartiality in important affairs. Picco was constantly on the frontlines: he was involved in the UN’s efforts to end the Afghanistan war, mediate the Iran-Iraq war, and resolve the Lebanese hostage situation. He offers revelatory insights into these major stories, writing with a crisp turn of phrase that makes even the most tedious of diplomatic memoranda seem exciting. When the action heats up, the book becomes difficult to even put down (a rarity among tomes of diplomatic history). Among the most riveting sections are those describing Picco’s negotiations with the captors of Terry Anderson and the other Lebanese hostages and his audience with Saddam Hussein to help negotiate peace in Iraq’s war with Iran. Underpinning the events-driven narrative is a more thematic tale: the story of how the UN discovered a new activist role for itself in the post—Cold War world. Picco clearly believes that the UN’s men and women have become the true architects of a new world order. His memoir manages to elevate itself to the first tier of current affairs books and offers fresh insight on many of the most memorable events in recent international affairs. A must-read for anyone who wants to know what the UN really does. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 17th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8129-2910-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999