PÃ¢rez de CuÃ¢llar, who was UN secretary-general from 1982 to 1991, tells not his own story but the story of the UN during tumultuous times. He describes himself as detached, the best quality, he feels, that an international diplomat can have. PÃ¢rez de CuÃ¢llar gives a brief description of his rise in the diplomatic ranks of Peru and plunges forthwith into the war for Lebanon in the early 1980s, basing his comments on memoranda, notes, and letters. While this sometimes makes the UN seem more pivotal than it was, PÃ¢rez de CuÃ¢llar does offer an extremely clear account of the principals in the region that would serve well as a textbook. More than half of his book is given over to Middle Eastern affairs, including an account of the Persian Gulf War in which George Bush figures prominently and favorably. In part because PÃ¢rez de CuÃ¢llar had been Peru's ambassador to the Soviet Union and was well liked in Moscow, he had cordial relations with the Russians at the UN as well, which in turn leads to a wonderfully informed, fully dimensional portrait of the war in Afghanistan. PÃ¢rez de CuÃ¢llar was involved in various overtures toward peace in Namibia, Angola, Cyprus, and Central America, and comments on these; the Somali debacle came after him, as did the war in Bosnia. He comments on these more recent events tangentially, as well as on the major figures of his tenure: Gorbachev, for example, whom he admires, and Reagan, about whom he is carefully neutral. He steps out of his detached persona only to level well-deserved criticism at the US Congress for failing to pay its UN dues. A balanced account from a steadfast apostle for peace, and, though cautious, invaluable historically.