During his first term as secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan was one of the most widely admired men in the world. In 2001, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then the UN failed to stop war in Iraq and genocide in Darfur, and the institution was engulfed by the Oil-for-Food scandal. By the time Annan left office in December 2006, both he and the UN had suffered a terrible loss of standing.
Did the UN’s failures arise from its own structure and culture or from a clash with an American administration determined to go its own way in defiance of world opinion?
In The Best Intentions, New York Times Magazine writer James Traub traces the entwined histories of Kofi Annan and the UN from 1992 to the present, and offers a definitive portrait of the institution’s role in the age of American dominance.
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"Fascinating . . . The book works, not just as a portrait of Annan but as one of the UN itself, in part because Annan personally encapsulates many characteristics of that inspiring but maddening organization."--Salon.com
"A highly readable account of the infighting and drama that have gone on behind the scenes over the past fifteen years, along with often amusingly acerbic thumbnail sketches of several prominent characters."--The Economist
James Traub has been a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine--where he writes about international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, and national political issues--since 1998. He has written three books, including City on a Hill and The Devil's Playground. He lives in New York City.